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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.

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?