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From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: There has been a lot of news regarding Kobe Bryant’s Achilles and his progress this past week. Since the injury on April 12 against the Golden State Warriors, we’ve all heard about the best and worst outcomes from this major injury. In China, Bryant recently told thousands of fans that he’s “shattered” the normal recovery time and is already able to walk and lift weights. However, a June study from the American Journal of Sports Medicine titled “Performance Outcomes After Repair of Complete Achilles Tendon Ruptures in National Basketball Association Players” isn’t so optimistic.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: This is Kobe Bryant saying exactly what you expect Kobe Bryant to say. Put an obstacle in front of Kobe — say, returning from a Achilles injury at age 35 next season — and you have motivated him. He wants to prove doubters wrong, haters wrong and father time wrong. He wants to prove a silly thing like a ruptured Achilles can’t stand in the way of his ultimate goal. And what is it that motivates him, he was asked in an interview broadcast in China (where he is on his annual trip promoting his brand). “Six.” (As in a sixth ring, as if you needed me to tell you that.)

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA: Los Angeles Lakers executive Jeanie Buss wants Kobe Bryant to know one thing: He should be a Laker for life. “I want Kobe to take the time that he needs to get healthy,” Buss said Thursday in a radio interview with ESPNLA 710. “I don’t want to see him come back any sooner than when he’s ready, and I know he’ll know when that is. There’s no reason for him to do anything that compromises his health.”Later, when asked by ESPNLosAngeles.com to expand on that comment, Buss said, “Kobe is part of the Laker family and he always will be. There’s not many players who play 18-19 years with the same franchise, and it’s important to us that he has a chance to play his entire career with the Lakers.”

From Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated: Shortly after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, Kobe Bryant vowed that he would be “Coach Vino” during the Lakers’ playoff run. He briefly tweeted up a storm of advice for his teammates before coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters that Bryant was merely a “fan,” a suggestion that Bryant laughed off. Shortly thereafter, the five-time champion decided to stop tweeting during games so that he wouldn’t be a distraction. A new video from Bryant’s 2013 tour of China shows the 15-time All-Star back in a coaching role, giving both advice and critiques to a group of Chinese players. The hook: Bryant, whose tireless work ethic has been well-chronicled over the years, wakes up the players for an early, early morning training session.

There are players who score and only score, and there are players who score and make players around them better. There is value in a player who not only scores, but also makes others around him better by distributing and facilitating. How do we separate a great all-around player who has an impact on his whole team from a guy who’s just known for his scoring ability? Introducing the harmonic mean between points and assists.

METHODOLOGY:

The harmonic mean between two variables is simply (2*A*B) / (A + B), where A and B are any two variables. In this case, A and B are points and assists. The harmonic mean was first introduced in sports by Bill James, when he developed the Power-Speed number in baseball. In his formula, home runs and stolen bases were the two variables. To do well, you need a lot of both.  This makes sense because the numerator in the formula grows at a much faster rate than the denominator.

The same applies in the points-assists harmonic mean (PAHM). In order to have a high PAHM, a player must have a lot of points and a lot of assists. In other words, one would expect point guards to infiltrate the top of this list and for Carmelo Anthony to not fare too well.

After running the results the first time, I noticed that players who had played more games naturally had a higher PAHM because they had more opportunities to get points and assists. In order to avoid this problem, I divided their overall PAHM by games played to get their Per Game PAHM.

2012-13 Per Game PAHM Stats:

Screen Shot 2013 08 08 at 1.17.15 PM

A few observations when we look at this table:

  • As expected, the list is filled with point guards. In fact, 24 of the top 28 are point guards. This is again no surprise because point guards generally rack up assists and aren’t afraid of taking a shot. Also, the league is filled with stellar point guards today and this table reiterates that notion.
  • Chris Paul, like his fictional twin brother Cliff, is in fact great at assisting others as portrayed in the State Farm commercials.
  • Rajon Rondo is a bit of a surprise at No. 2. He didn’t play a full season but he made his way to the top of the list because of his high assist total. Just imagine how great he would be if he had a better scoring touch.
  • Kobe Bryant is 11th on this list (first among all shooting guards). So next time someone on Twitter or Facebook posts a “Kobe doesn’t pass” meme, you can swiftly respond with this stat. (More on Kobe in a bit.)
  • LeBron James is a freak, but we already knew that. He’s not only third overall in Per Game PAHM, but he’s a power forward! The next power forward on the list is Josh Smith and he’s ranked No. 40.
  • No surprise but Carmelo Anthony is not on this list. He was actually ranked No. 84 in the stat – no surprise from a guy who was criticized all year for not passing the ball.

PAHM and the Lakers

The Lakers ranked in the middle of the pack as a team in PAHM at No. 15. Four Lakers were in the top 100 in the stat – Kobe, Nash, Pau Gasol, and Steve Blake. Gasol is an interesting name in the list. He was ranked No. 45 overall and third among all power forwards. This fits his description as a finesse big who can distribute. Here are the rest of the Laker rankings:

Screen Shot 2013 08 08 at 10.13.42 PM

The main takeaway from this table other than the fact that Kobe is dominating in a stat most people wouldn’t think he could dominate is the limited help the team received from Chris Duhon and Darius Morris. Once again, the 2012-13 story cannot be told without first talking about injuries. Nash and Blake missed almost half the year and were not backed up well by their third and fourth stringers (nor were they expected to be.) Nash was also 5th in the league in 2011-12 in PAHM, but he fell to 21st last year.

But let’s talk about Kobe. He recorded the highest PAHM of his career this season at 9.86 and he has a career PAHM of 8.01, which is excellent for a shooting guard. One may attribute his high PAHM to his 31,617 career points, but the fact that he’s averaged near five assists per game throughout his career definitely has a lot to do with his high PAHM. If you cut Kobe’s assist by 60 percent, it lowers his PAHM to the low 5’s.

This is intriguing because as mentioned before, most people don’t look at Kobe as a distributor, when in fact he’s been fairly good at getting his teammates involved. And when Kobe gets his teammates involved, the Lakers win games.

We’ve seen the numbers regarding Kobe, assists, and Laker wins. This year when Kobe recorded three or fewer assists, the Lakers were 2-17, but were 23-10 when he recorded at least seven assists. A regression run between Kobe’s game-by-game PAHM with Laker wins reiterates this notion. Kobe’s game-by-game PAHM was statistically significant in the regression meaning it was a factor in Laker wins and losses.

CONCLUSION:

In short, PAHM has several good uses:

  • It’s a great way to evaluate point guards. The higher a point guard’s PAHM, the more versatile they are in terms of scoring and distributing.
  • It’s also interesting to look at players that play other positions pop up at the top of the list because it shows that they are not only good scorers, but solid facilitators.
  • It’s a number that separates great players from great scorers. For instance, it says a lot that LeBron has a higher career PAHM (11.08) than Allen Iverson (10.0) even though the former is a power forward and the latter is a point guard.

From Ross Gasmer, Lakers Nation: The long awaited schedule release happened yesterday as Laker fans got to circle when Dwight Howard returns to Staples Center as well as Metta World Peace. With 29 nationally televised games, it’s clear everyone is interested in the Lakers, regardless if they’ll sink or succeed this season. At first glance, the schedule looks to be quite difficult at of the gate and the final stretch doesn’t look too inviting either. Regardless, with all the change this off-season, several new Lakers will make returns to their former homes as we take a look at the Lakers who are trending up and down.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen & Roll:The other night, I was lazily half paying attention to The Daily Show, as I am wont to do, when I heard a familiar name pop up in an altogether unfamiliar place. I paused, rewound, and confirmed my ears did not deceive me; for some strange reason, John Oliver was talking about Dwight Howard. (13:30 mark). He was doing so because Howard’s decision to choose the Houston Rockets over the Los Angeles Lakers made its way onto Fox Business Channel, who highlighted a report by anti-tax advocates Americans for Tax Reform claiming Howard’s choice as a victory for the “No State Income Tax” policy of Texas over the “High State Income Tax” policy of California. The quick breakdown is this: Despite the fact that the Lakers could offer Dwight a larger contract, both in length and in annual salary, California’s high state income tax rate (especially on the very wealthy like Dwight, who pay a marginal tax rate of 13.3% ), in comparison to Texas’ lack of state income taxes, would cause Dwight to take home less money at the end of the day as a Laker then he would as a Rocket.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Tears welled up in Pau Gasol’s eyes following a Lakers shootaround back in May, 2012. Gasol was to receive the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, recognizing his efforts in promoting programs aimed at children’s nutrition and education, later that evening and even though the Lakers were in the midst of a playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Gasol got emotional when he thought about the children with whom he’d come in contact through his charitable work in places like South Africa, Angola and Ethiopia, as well as in hospitals throughout the U.S.

From Broderick Turner, LA Times: When the NBA released its 2013-14 regular-season schedule Tuesday, it made sense that the Lakers would host the Clippers in a nationally televised game Oct. 29 at Staples Center in the season opener for both teams. After all, the arena rivals appear to be going in different directions, with the Clippers being on the rise and the Lakers at the crossroads for one of the few times in their storied history. New Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, the re-signed Chris Paul, All-Star Blake Griffin and the team’s cast of returning and new players will have 21 nationally televised games, showing just how far this franchise has come and how high the expectations are.

From Zach Harper, CBS Sports: The Los Angeles Lakers are starting a new season. This isn’t a joke about how many restart buttons they seemed to hit throughout the 2012-13 season, when injuries and cohesion issues plagued their championship expectations. The Lakers are actually beginning anew, and without Dwight Howard, who left LA for the Houston Rockets this summer. Mike D’Antoni missed the Lakers’ training camp and preseason, taking over for the fired Mike Brown 10 games into the regular season. If he’d had that preparation time, maybe he could have found a way to implement an attack with both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol when they were on the floor. Instead, it sounds like the Lakers’ latest coach had to try to recruit Howard by going through him more and away from Gasol as the team began courting their free agent-to-be months before he hit the market.

From Suki Thind, Lakers Nation: I recently wrote an article on how Lakers fans were stuck with Mike D’Antoni, and how we as fans might as well embrace him and see how far he can take the team in a restructuring period. Naturally, I took some heat for it (although surprisingly, many fans were actually receptive to it). However, now with the addition of Kurt Rambis to D’Antoni’s staff, perhaps that stance will lighten, or fans will at least experience some level of comfort knowing one key member of the Lakers’ 2009 championship coaching staff is back on the sidelines (Rambis left to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves the following season). Rambis, who had often been critical of Mike D’Antoni’s system–or lack thereof–will likely be there for one reason: Defense.

From Associated Press, ESPN LA: With Dwight Howard gone and Kobe Bryant injured, Pau Gasol is looking to reassert himself as a leader of the Los Angeles Lakers. Knees allowing, he wants to be the dominant player of old who helped Bryant & Co. win NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.”I think I have the most uncertain period behind me,” Gasol told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “The team has suffered a lot of changes, but as far as me, I am back in the position of a lot of responsibility, which I like, and I’m just going to focus on getting healthy.”

The Great Mambino, Silver Screen & Roll: The story has been the same for years: if Kobe Bryant nails a game winning shot or Derek Jeter gets a walk-off RBI, the sports world at large shudders in disappointment. Two of the greats in their respective games, reviled by a vocal majority but loved by a passionate fan base of millions, are also two of the easiest players to root against. At this point, there’s really no debate as to whether either man is a Hall of Famer–those honors were cemented years ago. What’s left are simply more records to topple and fellow legends to surpass. They play for the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees, the two lumbering giants in their respective sports.

Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: A lot has happened to the Lakers since General ManagerMitch Kupchak last spoke to reporters. Dwight Howard left for Houston despite the Lakers’ very public campaign to keep him. Metta World Peace was waived via the amnesty provision and quickly joined New York. Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson were all signed as free agents. It leaves the Lakers … where, exactly? But first, the obvious question for Kupchak, who spoke Monday to The Times in his first interview in more than a month: How disappointed was he to lose Howard in free agency to the “little town” of Houston, as Shaquille O’Neal derisively called it?

From Broderick Turner, LA Times: World Peace, 33, told reporters Monday at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas that he was signing with the Knicks. He cleared waivers Sunday after being let go in a cost-cutting move by the Lakers under the league’s amnesty provision Thursday. Apparently the lure of playing near where he grew up in Queens, N.Y., was more than enough for World Peace to choose the Knicks over the Clippers, who were also interested in signing him. But the most the Clippers could offer World Peace was the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Dwight Howard wants touches in the post — and he’s pretty good in the post despite not having a lot of counter moves to fall back on. He shot 44 percent on post up situations last season despite the injury, 49 percent and 50 percent the two years before that. But in Mike D’Antoni’s style of basketball, just throwing the ball into the post and waiting for him to make a move or kick the ball back out stalls the ball and player movement out. Guys stand around, the offense withers.

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA: So, about that torch pass? The one Dwight Howard was supposed to take from Kobe Bryant one day …Call it a failed exchange, dropped baton, whatever metaphor suits you, but lost in the immediate aftermath of Howard’s decision to bolt for the Houston Rockets is the fairly urgent need for a new casting call for the Lakers’ next leading man. Bryant, of course, said last week that he fully intends to retire as a Laker and doesn’t believe there will be a problem working out an extension to his current contract, which expires after the coming season. So for another two or three or four more years, he’ll hold it down.

From Josh Basali, Lakers Nation: Kobe Bryant is healing up faster than most people would have predicted. Recently, the Mamba told Chris Douglas-Roberts that he is three months ahead of schedule in the recovery process and rehab of his Achillesa surgery. CDR is currently playing for the Lakers’ Summer League team. Chris told reporters that Kobe and him text regularly and that the Vino told him he is ahead of the projected schedule. According to Drew Garrison of Silver Screen and Roll: ”He told me he’s three months ahead of schedule, which is very Kobe-like,” Douglas-Roberts said.

From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: This isn’t Chris Douglas-Roberts’ first time trying to earn his way onto the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster. He made it as far as the Lakers’ preseason roster last summer but ultimately did not make the team. He would go on to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, where he played only six games for a total of 63 minutes. He still talks to Kobe Bryant though, who he spoke glowingly of after the Lakers 77-65 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Monday. You could hear a flicker of excitement when he spoke of the Lakers’ superstar.

With all the courtship that has been going on for Dwight Howard’s services over the last week, one may be inclined to think that if he leaves Los Angeles, the Lakers will enter a downward spiral and burn into flames. However, this is definitely not the case.

Sure, the Lakers will be better off with Howard on their roster. He is and should be the biggest priority for the Lakers this offseason. He’s a dominant force on both ends of the court and if his shoulder shows signs of improvement, he could put up MVP type numbers like he did in Orlando in 2013-14. There is no doubt that the team has a better chance to win a title with him in the lineup.

With that said, having Howard in purple and gold is not a necessity for the team to be successful this year and beyond. This isn’t the same situation the Cleveland Cavaliers faced when LeBron James bolted to Miami, leaving Cleveland with limited and marginal players.

If Howard leaves, the Lakers will have seven players on the roster for 2013-14 in Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jodie Meeks. The team has also given center Robert Sacre a qualifying offer to bring him back. Finally, assuming they sign second round pick Ryan Kelly, the Lakers will have nine men on the team.

No matter what happens with Howard, the Lakers must bring in a few bench players this summer who can shoot, defend, and show signs of athleticism that will fit in Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced system. Even if Howard stays, the Lakers aren’t winning anything without some much needed depth.

But, if Howard leaves, even more importance will be placed on the quality of the players they decide to bring this summer.  There are plenty of shooting options available for the Lakers in free agency and they can definitely improve their depth if they make the right moves. They’ll need to rely on their mini mid-level exception plus a few good pickups with their veteran’s minimum, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that they succeed using their exceptions.

Continue Reading…

From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: After his surprise announcement this morning (that ended up just being him announcing a reality show with Terrell Owens), it was then announced that he will exercise his player option to remain with the Lakers for next season. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, World Peace will be back with the Lakers next season (assuming the team doesn’t use their Amnesty option).”According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the veteran small forward will play out the final year of his contract (worth $7.7 million) rather than exercise the early termination option on his deal.”There were rumors that World Peace might consider walking away from the final year of his deal, but few expected him to turn down nearly $8 million, a number he wouldn’t come close to receiving if he was to be a free agent and picked up by another team.

From Staff And Wire Reports, LA Times: A person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press that Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw has agreed to succeed George Karl as coach of theDenver Nuggets. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday night because the deal hadn’t been officially announced. The Nuggets called a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to introduce their new coach. The Denver Post first reported the agreement with Shaw, and the former Phil Jackson pupil told the newspaper he has been “prepared by the best of the best” for his first NBA head coaching job.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: While two former No. 1 picks in LeBron James and Tim Duncan dominated and defined the NBA Finals for their respective teams, the series wouldn’t have been what it was without a couple of second-round picks. Manu Ginobili, selected No. 57 by San Antonio in 1999, was brilliant in Game 5 of the Finals and gave the Spurs a 3-2 series lead by putting up 24 points and 10 assists. Mario Chalmers, who went No. 34 in 2008 to Minnesota before being traded to Miami, came up huge in all three of the Heat’s home wins and averaged 17.7 points in Games 2, 6 and 7 to help the Heat to the title. In Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers will find themselves looking for a similar impact player in the second round. For the sixth straight year, the Lakers do not have a first round pick.

From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: To say that mock drafts are an inexact science goes without saying. Ultimately, they are collections of educated guesses and pretty much worthless in predictive value aside from obvious choices at the top of the order. And this year, even that last item is not the case, as the Cavaliers debate whether to pick Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, or a number of other options. All of this notwithstanding, merely by attempting to make sense of a crapshoot of a process, we stir the imagination and at least introduce the possibilities for what your team will be looking at in your range, which is all you can ask for on draft night.

Metta’s Announcement 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-nwh9CFrW0U

From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: In one of the most trying seasons of his career, Kobe Bryant has openly discussed retirement and has reiterated that it is realistic that he would hang it up after his current contract expires, which is at the end of next season. This was before the season-ending Achilles tendon rupture on April 12, 2013. While looking at the scar on his Achilles during an interview in Brazil, Bryant talked about his recovery so far and might have possibly reconsidered his retirement plans. Courtesy of KB824Legend (h/t Los Angeles Times), Kobe stated: “I can easily see myself playing another three or four years.”

From TheGreatMambino, Silver Screen & Roll: Coming off spectacular run to the Finals that was tantalizingly close to a fifth title, Tim Duncan has reignited the argument of who is the greatest player of his generation. The question is simple: whose career has been greater, the Big Fundamental or the Black Mamba? One roll of the basketball, and this would be a short article. In an epic Game 7 last Thursday, Tim Duncan had the ball in the post for hisSan Antonio Spurs, staring elimination in the face. Time was running out–48 seconds to be exact–and the team’s all-time franchise player made his move to the center of the key, and attempted a right hook shot over the 6’8″ Shane Battier that would tie the game. This shot was the very same one he’d make 99 out of 100 times, maybe even 999 out of 1,000 times. But that night, that one odd number seemed to rear its ugly head.

From Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: Phil Jackson isn’t quite sure when Kobe Bryant will return to the court next season, but he’s convinced Bryant won’t leave the hardwood for good until he at least ties Michael Jordan’s six titles and surpasses Jordan on the all-time scoring list. “His goal is another championship,” Jackson said Thursday. “He also has a chance to replaceMichael Jordan in the all-time scoring list. Those are two goals, with the first one being a championship, that Kobe would like to accomplish.” Bryant, who has five titles to Jordan’s six, is fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 31,617 points, behind Jordan’s 32,292. Bryant said Thursday his goal is to return to the court with the Lakers sometime in November or December after rupturing his Achilles tendon at the end of last season. “It’s to be seen how well he recovers from the operation,” Jackson said. “Odds are and the belief is it will be very soon in November, which is remarkable.

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: The rules changed when the league adopted the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, but Lakers executive and owner Jeanie Buss is confident the franchise will navigate its way back to the top. “We are in 100% in support of those agreements, but as much as they’d like to try to revenue share and make things equal — our basketball expertise, they can’t revenue share away from us,” Buss said.  “I believe that as they keep trying to make things more fair, they can never take away what the Lakers have — our history, our experience, our brain power in our front office.  We’ll always have an advantage.” On Wednesday, at a Time Warner Cable Media event to honor her late father, Dr. Jerry Buss, Jeanie said the franchise willingly accepted the more stringent rules — including steeper luxury taxes for teams over the salary cap — for the good of the NBA.

From Lucas Tucker, Yahoo Sports: Fresh off their first “title” of Pacific Division winner, the Los Angeles Clippers are bringing Doc Rivers to Hollywood to man their sidelines. There’s no denying that Doc is a top-tier coach, but there might be some culture shock next October when he watches the Clippers raise their first banner in Staples Center – celebrating last year’s division title. Doc comes from a place that doesn’t celebrate anything less than championships. Neither do the Clippers’ roommates. Hiring Doc is another move in the right direction, but should you ever question which franchise rules Los Angeles, just look at the rafters in Staples Center. Coming from Boston, Doc knows which L.A. is chant-worthy.