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From Ryan Ward, Lakers Nation: Over the past few months, Kobe Bryant has sent subtle messages to his fans and the world about what’s going on in the mind of the five-time NBA champion by changing his Twitter avatar. Recently, Kobe changed his avatar to 1225. Many believe the change was to indicate either his return date to the basketball floor for the Los Angeles Lakers or a motivational tactic after ESPN predicted the Lakers would finish 12th in the West and that he was now the 25th best player in the NBA. On Tuesday morning, Kobe was at it a again with his cryptic messages via his Twitter avatar. Instead of the 1225, which many thought would remain his avatar until he returned, the future Hall of Famer blacked out the avatar completely and then tweeted the following:

From Brett Polakoff, Pro Basketball Talk: After their surprising opening night victory against the Clippers, the Lakers have looked more like the team we expected to see with Kobe Bryant out of the lineup in the early part of the season. L.A. has dropped two straight, and with Mike D’Antoni searching for answers, a change to the starting lineup will take place for the team’s game Sunday night at home against the Atlanta Hawks. From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times: Xavier Henry will start in place of Nick Young on Sunday night against Atlanta, Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said. …“Just [trying] to find a better spot for Nick, maybe get a little bit more production out of him,” D’Antoni said. “[Henry] has played as well if not better than anybody. There’s no reason not to go ahead and do this and lengthen his time on the court a little bit.”

From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: The first week of Los Angeles Lakers basketball has come and gone and the team split their first four games. The week began with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers and ended with a down to the wire victory against the Atlanta Hawks. The season is young and the sample sizes are too small to draw overarching conclusions, but it’s fair to take the early results for what their worth and break down what’s starting to take form. Xavier Henry is starting, Nick Young is on the bench,Jordan Hill is a beast on the offensive glass, Wesley Johnson is still a huge question mark and the NBA’s new SportVu player tracking provides statistical data behind an observation made earlier this week about Pau Gasol in the Lakers’ offense. Here are a handful of Week 1 observations:

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: In recapping the Los Angeles Lakers’ fervent first week of the season that included four games in six days, it’s pretty hard to draw any conclusions and feel confident those same observations will ring true in a week or two. Pau Gasol has looked re-energized from a season ago, but then again coach Mike D’Antoni benched him from the 6:29 mark of the third quarter to the 5:40 mark of the fourth quarter Sunday because he thought Gasol “lost his steam.”Xavier Henry has looked like a hidden gem, scoring 22 against the Clippers, 14 against the Warriors and 18 against the Hawks, but then again there was that 0-for-6 night against the Spurs and that wild offensive foul with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter against Atlanta in a four-point contest that could have cost L.A. the game.

 

All The Way From El Segundo

Dave Murphy —  October 12, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers traveled to China yesterday for the first time as a team. It’s a pretty big deal on a lot of levels. As part of the NBA Global Games, the Lakers will play two matches against the Golden State Warriors. The first takes place in Beijing on Tuesday, October 15. The second will be in Shanghai, three days later. There will be ample time to take in the sights and culture, including of course, the Great Wall of China. Many of the players will be accompanied by family. The NBA represents big money in China as well as a genuine love of the game.

Kobe Bryant knows China well, having traveled there on behalf of Nike for eight consecutive years. He was also a member of the U.S. gold medal team in Beijing in 2008. The team’s head physical therapist, Dr. Judy Seto, offers a nice perspective, not only on Bryant’s immense popularity but on the country itself.

Trips like this can serve as important bonding opportunities. With the on-court chemistry displayed so far in the young preseason, it may be icing on the cake. The team certainly doesn’t have the superstar panache of last year’s edition. They also don’t have the divisiveness that arrived with a player who could have been the future of the franchise. The franchise may have dodged a bullet when he continued on his way.

Continue Reading…

From Serena Winters, Lakers Nation: Injuries were the main topic of conversation at today’s Lakers practice. Head Coach Mike D’Antoni said both Steve Nash and Pau Gasol practiced in full for the most part yesterday, with the exception of a drill at the end of practice. The Lakers are currently holding two-a-day practices, but Nash and Gasol are the exceptions, practicing only once per day. D’Antoni said Kobe Bryant is in every film session and on the sidelines watching what’s going on. There was a general message, though, that the vibe around the Lakers practice facility was completely different than last year. D’Antoni said Steve Nash noticed it and told him the other day. “It feels good. Last year it was tough, just from the start,” said Nash. It was hard to feel a lot of positive energy. It always seemed like a challenge whereas this year it feels a bit more like a team.” Though Nash said he couldn’t predict how well the Lakers would do this year, there was positive energy all around.

From Brett Pollakoff, Pro Basketball Talk: As the Lakers opened training camp with media day on Saturday, the first questions posed to Kobe Bryant were ones about his recovery from the torn Achilles injury he suffered back in April near the end of the regular season. Bryant seemed to be in good spirits, and is feeling optimistic about the way his rehabilitation has progressed. But he wasn’t willing to set any kind of range in terms of a target date when we might see him back in action. From Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles: “I don’t think we really have a particular timetable as far as where I should be right now, but I’m feeling good,” Bryant said. The team’s original timeline for the recovery of Bryant, who had surgery to repair the Achilles in April, was six to nine months. “Everybody was really concerned about this injury, and so was I, but the procedure and the therapy right afterwards and things like that really got me ahead of the curve,” Bryant said. “So, it feels like the hard part’s over.”

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Good news for the Lakers: Almost everybody on their team is in a contract year. Bad news for the Lakers: Almost everybody on their team is in a contract year. Such players have incentive to deliver with an added hunger, according to the long-held sports theory. But if the team starts to disintegrate in the standings, will individuals start jacking up shots to pad their stats? “They’re more professional than that. You’re not going to have any selfish play,” said Coach Mike D’Antoni. What if they start thinking dollars instead of sense? “They probably won’t be playing a whole lot. It kind of takes care of itself,” D’Antoni said. Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Nick Young are the only Lakers with contracts after this season. Young holds a player option for a relatively small $1.2 million in 2014-15, meaning he’ll look for more money if he has a solid season. “Guys are going to go all out,” said Pau Gasol. “That’s the positive part of it. There’s no security for next season. You’re in a position to give it your best, give it your all, earn your next paycheck, next contract.

From Dave McMenamin ESPN LA: Ever since the Lakers tried to trade him to Houston in a three-team deal to acquire Chris Paul back in Dec. 2011, Pau Gasol has often felt like he’s been on borrowed time in Los Angeles. The trade rumors have swirled so much in the last couple of years that the four-time All-Star has taught himself to avoid fretting about the future and rather thrive in the present.  “I’ve learned to live my life on a daily basis and try to have fun in the process,” Gasol said after the first of the Lakers two practices Sunday. That doesn’t mean the media thinks the same way. On just the second day of training camp, Gasol, who is in the final year of his contract with L.A. set to pay him $19.3 million this season, was asked about the possibility of staying on with the Lakers after 2013-14. “If the team is interested, they will approach me and at some point there will be some kind of meeting,” Gasol said. “But I’m not sure when or how. I think it’s going to depend on how I perform during the season. The better I perform, I’m sure the more interested they will be to try to sign me, I guess.” Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 points last year, his 46.6 field goal percentage was the worst mark of his 12 seasons in the league, and his 8.6 rebounds per game was his lowest average since 2007-08.

From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: Ever since Dwight Howard decided to leave the Lakers for Houston, analyzing the Lakers’ subsequent moves has mostly been a bit of a depressing exercise since the most likely outcome for next season is a bout of mediocrity. Most of the time in the NBA, mediocrity isn’t a productive way to spend your time. You aren’t maximizing your draft position to get the best possible player and if you don’t have existing young players on the roster to develop, you’re heading for a few years of maddening play in which you don’t have the pieces to compete and can’t bottom out to get them. The Lakers have compounded this issue by not having a first rounder in 2015, so their future fortunes are incredibly dependent on their 2014 draft pick and how they conduct their business in free agency in 2014 and 2015.

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: Kobe Bryant was voted “favorite player in the league” by 36 rookies in a survey for NBA.com, according to John Schuhmann. Bryant topped the list with 21.2% of the votes. LeBron James came in second (15.2%), followed by a third-place tie between Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki (12.1% apiece). Steve Nash also received at least one vote. Rookies weren’t permitted to vote for “themselves, college teammates or NBA teammates,” Schuhmann wrote.

From Dan Feldman, Pro Basketball Talk: It’s early in the 2027-28 season, and the Lakers have struggled to a 1-4 start. The year before, an aging Kyrie Irving helped lead the Lakers to the North American Conference Finals, but they ran out of gas and were swept by Seattle. Still, the Lakers brought back their core, including Coach Monty Williams, who led the Lakers to championships in 2023 and 2024. Suddenly, the Lakers look old, and fans are calling for Williams to be fired. Who’s their preferred replacement? 82-year-old Phil Jackson. At least that’s whom Mike D’Antoni believes Lakers fans would want in that scenario. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: During this off-season, much of the discussion has centered around Kobe Bryant’s return from Achilles surgery and if he’ll be able to play at a high-level once again. Despite the fact that Bryant is ahead of schedule in his recovery and some are optimistic that he’ll be returning for opening night against the Los Angeles Clippers, others think the injury is too difficult to come back from at this stage of his career. In an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com, an anonymous Western Conference scout was optimistic and believes that Bryant will be back at an All-Star level: “I would not be surprised for him to be back at an All-Star level. I don’t know if it’s going to be next season, it could be, but I could definitely see him being back as an All-Star because that’s just in his DNA.” While Bryant will likely lose some athleticism from this injury, his smarts and experience will enable him to conquer this challenge, similarly to Michael Jordan.

From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: The Los Angeles Lakers are not interested in signing free agent Lamar Odom, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. The Lakers had reached out to Odom shortly after the 2013 free agency period began, but there were no reports of talks advancing beyond an exploratory phase.The Lakers had “some interest” in acquiring Odom and had talks with him in early July, but the team no longer has any interest in acquiring him, according to a league source familiar with the discussions. A source close to Odom informed Jared Zwerling of ESPN that he was interested in returning to the Lakers.

 

From Ryan Ward, Lakers Nation: Former Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, has reportedly been missing for the last three days and feared to be using crack cocaine. Odom’s life continues to spiral out of control with the 33-year-old struggling to save his marriage with reality star, Khloe Kardashian. Although Odom remains missing, with all sorts of rumors floating around about what he may or may not be doing, a contact close to Odom in New York says the two-time NBA champion still wants to a member of the Los Angeles Lakers according to Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com via Twitter.

From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Alex Each always believes in Kobe.His wife might elbow him in the ribs if he didn’t; the first name of the Lakers’ biggest star is the middle name of the couple’s youngest son. So even things like Kobe Bryant’s uncertain return from a torn Achilles’ tendon, Dwight Howard’s departure and the absence of brand-name reinforcements can’t dampen the longtime Lakers fan’s enthusiasm for his favorite team.”Kobe has had more resurrections than any athlete I can remember,” said Each, 39, an electrical engineer from Fairfax, Va., who watches every Lakers game via NBA League Pass, even if it means TiVo-ing it and fast-forwarding through commercials well after midnight.

From Brett Polakoff, Pro Basketball Talk The Dwight Howard saga as it related to his decision to ultimately choose the Rockets over the Lakers in free agency has been well-chronicled, and it feels like we’ve heard just about all of the details surrounding the reasons for his departure. In short, Howard didn’t like the way he was being utilized in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, and his personality couldn’t have been more opposite to that of Kobe Bryant, which (along with all of the losing) made his time in Los Angeles extremely miserable. But if all of that somehow wasn’t clear by now, we have yet another report that Howard may have considered re-upping with the Lakers had they been ready to make the franchise his from day one — by removing those two components that made his time there so unpleasant.

From Michael C. Jones, Yahoo Sports: Before scratching the surface of who Los Angeles Lakers fans are, it’s important to understand who they aren’t. There’s a lot to loathe about those who often identify themselves as Lakers fans, yet repeatedly do things to disgrace the golden armor. These actions drive everyone (especially real fans) crazy and give the legitimate Purple and Gold faithful a bad name. In no way do the impostors’ actions constitute Lakers fandom, and it’s important to understand and establish a select few of their most egregious offenses moving forward.

 

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Granted, the 2012-13 season was pretty crummy for every Los Angeles Lakers player, but consider the plight of Jodie Meeks. After two and a half solid seasons in Philadelphia, where Meeks established himself as a valued contributor on playoff teams, the sweet-shooting guard signed with L.A. at a discount with the hopes of winning a ring. While he witnessed his teammates go down left and right with injuries as the season wore on, Meeks fortunately avoided any health problems. With Kobe Bryant out with a torn Achilles tendon, it was Meeks who was on the court at shooting guard in Bryant’s place in the regular-season finale against the Houston Rockets, driving baseline and throwing down a game-sealing dunk in overtime to secure L.A. the seventh seed in the postseason.

From Dan Duangdao, Lakers Nation: For 34 years, Dr. Jerry Buss was and will always be the face of the most successful franchise in the NBA. Through the decades, he not only provided ten championships to the city of Los Angeles, but also provided a sense of stability.Regardless of all the changes we’ve experienced in our personal lives, we could always count on Dr. Buss to provide us with Lakers teams that were exciting to watch and most importantly, championship contenders. Since the passing of Dr. Buss in February, the Lakers organization and fan base has experienced change for the first time in three decades and, as we all know, change creates uncertainty. With his children, Jim and Jeanie, at the helm, there is uncertainty about the direction of the franchise that has quickly turned into negativity from the media this offseason.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Sad note for talk-show hosts: Mike D’Antoni isn’t turning up his car radio to hear you and your faithful listeners destroy him. “Hell, no,” D’Antoni said on a sunny Manhattan Beach afternoon, plenty of time before rush-hour shows typically unleash another round of venom aimed at the Lakers’ coach. These are trying times to be a Lakers fan in Los Angeles, the playoffs hardly a guarantee next season as the Clippers continue their assumed ascension past the 16-time NBA champions. Naturally, many of the verbal arrows get fired at the affable D’Antoni in comments at the end of online stories, letters to the editor and the above-mentioned airwaves. No, the specter of Phil Jackson never quite left the Lakers.”I think anybody that comes in here the next 10, 15 years, it’s going to be that way,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think there is any doubt that he was so good and so large and he’s still sitting out there. “Had that bothered me, I shouldn’t have taken the job because you know it’s going to be there. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that, ‘Oh, they won’t remember him.’ Sure they will. It doesn’t really affect what we do day-to-day and how we approach the game.” D’Antoni, 62, has two more guaranteed years on his contract after going 40-32 last season and then getting swept in the playoffs by San Antonio as his players crumbled physically.

From Michael C. Jones, Yahoo Sports: It didn’t take long for Dwight Howard to become the most hated player in Los Angeles Lakers history. That distinction is his alone after playing just 76 games with the franchise. Almost any time a player has an “of all-time” distinction attached to his name, it’s a highly debatable topic. But, in this instance, there’s little disputing that Howard is loathed more by Lakers fans than anyone who donned the golden armor before him. Cedric Ceballos and his in-season vacation, Nick Van Exel and his uncanny ability to infuriate his teammates, and even Kobe Bryant’s tendency to move the needle in polarizing fashion across the league can’t hold a candle to the way Howard is pretty much despised outside of Houston these days.

From Sean Highkin, USA Today: Kobe Bryant is running again – sort of. He posted a video on his Instagram account Monday that shows him jogging on an anti-gravity treadmill. How much weight he’s putting on the left Achilles tendon he tore in April is unclear, but the fact that he’s running in any form just over four months after the injury is an encouraging sign for Lakers fans. Last week, Kobe told reporters in China that the tendon felt “really, really good.” He hasn’t been given an exact return date but, as the season gets closer, it’s no longer unrealistic to expect he’ll be back on the court as the  Lakers take on the Los Angeles Clippers on opening night Oct. 29.

 

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.