Archives For Kobe

The dragging offseason continues, yet the news cycle rolls on…

Earlier this month the Lakers signed former Texas forward and Summer League standout Jonathan Holmes. To this date, not much has been heard about the Holmes-Lakers pairing since the signing, however, Mark Stenberg of Study Breaks Magazine recently caught up with the San Antonio native for a very insightful interview, here’s some of what stood out:

Can you walk me through everything that’s happened from Draft Day till now?

Holmes: Draft Day was a tough. Heading into it, we thought we had a pretty good chance of going late first round/beginning of the second round, but some unexpected trades happened and I ended up going undrafted.

After that, the next thing to do was try and get ready for summer league. I was in San Antonio on Draft Day, and two days later my agent called and said the Celtics had a good opportunity for me to play. That’s really the biggest thing you need as an undrafted guy—a chance to play—so we jumped on that right away.

I flew to Boston a couple of days later and had a week of training camp to prepare for Summer League. Then we flew out to Utah, played two games, and then flew to Las Vegas to play in that Summer League

(Boston lost in the quarterfinals to the Becky Hammon-coached Spurs, the team that ended up winning the tournament).

After that, we were just waiting for some deals. Then we got some, we chose Los Angeles, and now I’m here hanging out, waiting for training camp.

[…]

What do your days look like now?

Holmes: I wake up 8:30 and work out with one of the coaches, then go to the weight room and get a little work out there. Right now, there’s a lot of open-gyms going on at the Clippers’ facility, so some of the guys on the team and I might go over there and play with some of the guys there. Then I’ll usually come back here, eat lunch, rest, take a little nap and then head back to the facility. I’m really just trying to put some shots up. Afterword, I’ll come back here and kick it pretty low key. Right now everything’s still pretty unofficial.

How the vibe in LA? Have you played with Kobe yet?

Holmes: No, I haven’t seen him yet. It’s actually really cool though, because there are a lot of young guys right now. I mean there are definitely veterans here, like Roy Hibbert, Ryan Kelly, Brandon Bass, and Nick Young, but for the most part, most of the guys on the team are young. It makes it different than if you were coming into a team that was nothing but veterans, cause most of these guys are going through what I’m going through.

[…]

Do you have a basketball role model?

Holmes: I definitely model my game after Draymond Green, but there are guys from San Antonio who paved my way to get [to professional basketball]. When people think about Texas they think about football, but I watched guys like André Roberson and Jordan Clarkson (who also plays for the Lakers) when I was growing up. We played for the same AAU programs, and so just seeing them make it coming from San Antonio pushed me and motivated me to live out my own dreams.

**

The Lakers’ second UDFA signing this offseason was ex-Florida guard Michael Fraizer, and while most have little expectation that he’ll amount to anything more than a mere camp body, Jackson Sanders of Hoops Habit recently looked into just where Fraizer could find his role on a Lakers roster:

Continue Reading…

The Lakers made another under-the-radar personnel move over the weekend with the signing of undrafted free agent Michael Fraizer. This is the team’s second UDFA signing of the offseason and just as we did with the signing of Jonathan Holmes, today’s links provide a month-old scouting report done by Kevin O’Connor of SB Nation, in which Fraizer is referred to as a potential “sleeper”:

Frazier has the talent to carve out a career in the league. All he needs is the right situation to give him an opportunity to get to that level.

Wesley Matthews, Bruce Bowen and Ben Wallace suffered the same disappointment of being undrafted, but went on to have productive careers. Frazier’s former teammate Scottie Wilbekin just signed a four-year contract with the 76ers after developing one year overseas and returning an improved player.

This is why Frazier is a prime candidate to be next in line.

Fraizer’s calling card at the next level is assumed to be his proficiency from three-point range. While O’Connor doesn’t discount the fact that Fraizer sticking with a team is contingent upon his ability to drain threes, he also goes on to detail Fraizer’s potential to be a multi-faceted player with a unique skillset that suggests he is more than a “specialist”:

 

Before the draft, Frazier worked out at Elev8 Sports Institute with trainer Cody Toppert to improve this area of his game. Toppert recently published an overview of the pick-and-roll. He preaches three keys: pace, poise and purpose.

“Cody Toppert and I watched a lot of film, then went straight to the court to try to replicate those same kinds of things,” Frazier said. “In today’s game, Chris Paul is the best player in the pick-and-roll, so I watch a lot of him. He’s the master of it.”

**

One of the players Fraizer will most directly compete against this summer is soon-to-be sophomore, Jabari Brown. This roster battle will certainly draw more attention as summer exhibition nears, yet there is still quite a while until preseason kicks off (45 days to be exact). Therefore, one of the ways players like Brown get in their on-court reps during the offseason is by participating in the various Summer basketball showcases throughout the country.

Josh Martin of Bleacher Report recently profiled the growth of these Summer Pro League Exhibitions (most notably the Drew League and Seattle Pro-Am), and the piece included a brief, yet telling, appearance from Brown:

Nowadays, audiences in the Bay Area often find themselves as awe-struck by the show-stopping shooting skills of a bona fide superstar like Stephen Curry as they are by the spectacular scoring exploits of a relative NBA unknown like Los Angeles Lakers sophomore-to-be Jabari Brown.

“It’s a big misconception [about the talent level in the NBA],” Brown, an Oakland native, told Bleacher Report. “A lot of people you’ll just hear like, ‘Oh, so-and-so’s not getting it done.’ I’ll be like, ‘Man, a lot of these people can ball. Just because their 2K rating isn’t 85 or something, the guys that you sleep on, they’re the guys that’ll give you 25 on that night’ and you’ll be like, ‘What happened?’ You know what I’m saying? Everybody in this league is capable.”

It’s a reminder that just about every player who fills one of the NBA’s 450 roster spots each year, even the ones who rarely suit up, were the best on their high school squads and were among the finest prospects at the collegiate level—assuming they didn’t skip that step entirely.

Brown fits that description to a T…

As someone who is a frequent visitor of So-Cal’s own Drew League, I can attest that watching NBA players perform on a lesser stage — in front of spirited communities, traditionally at a high school gym or local court — externalizes a more humanistic nature to the oft-glorified athletes. The atmosphere of such events can be indescribable, however Martin does a wonderful job capturing the scene in what is a very worthwhile read.

Continue Reading…

No Lakers-centric links post this week would be complete without a reference to the team’s most widely-covered news of the week surrounding it’s most celebrated player. So, let’s get that out of the way, first.

In an interview which has been well-documented, Kobe Bryant spoke with Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and discussed a variety of topics including his eventual retirement (more on that in a minute) and his outlook on the upcoming season:

Q: What do you think about the state of the Lakers right now?

Kobe: “They have really set themselves up for a promising future going on years. I think they drafted very well. The free agents that we picked are extremely solid, [Roy] Hibbert, [Brandon] Bass, Lou [Williams]. We have a very good mix of young and veteran leadership. The challenge is going to be blending the two and cutting down the learning curve.

“How quickly can we get going? How quickly can we bring up [rookie D’Angelo] Russell, [Julius] Randle. [Jordan] Clarkson got valuable experience last year in playing that will benefit us tremendously. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to running with these young guns.”

Q: Can this Lakers team make the playoffs?

Kobe: “Of course it can. Absolutely. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know. We are going to [training] camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are. And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths.”

It is also worth reading a related piece by our own Darius Soriano where he dissects some of Bean’s most noteworthy comments from the interview.

**

Perhaps my subconscious is intentionally burying the “lead” here, but Kobe’s most highly-noted comments from the above interview revolved around his inevitable departure from basketball. Until Kobe officially hangs ’em up, there will continue to be questions in regards to his official farewell and quotes like “I don’t know if I’m going to retire or not.” will lead to attention-grabbing headlines such as, “Kobe and Mitch aren’t on the same page!”. Regardless of when his swan song will officially be composed, I am of the mindset that enjoying Kobe’s every moment is crucial at a time where we are more aware than ever that any step onto the court could be his last.

No, his waning moments will not always be pretty, but according to Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen, to make the closing of his career a lot more effective and a bit more eye-pleasing, Kobe should take note of an old adage; “Like Mike”:

Continue Reading…

Box Score: Lakers 97, Cavs 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 102.1, Cavs 96.8
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.8%, Cavs 50.8%

The Good:
When Kobe Bryant is making shots, it’s a thing of beauty.

Kobe finished with 40 for the third contest in a row (42 points). He was hitting from behind the arc (4/7). He was pretty efficient at 15/31. And when the bigs got touches, they were productive. Pau Gasol had 19 points and 10 boards… while Andrew Bynum (who probably should’ve yelled more to give him the bleepin’ ball) had 15 points and 11 rebounds. It didn’t make sense to me on why they didn’t go back to Bynum more because he got off to quite a great start as he went 5/5 for 10 points after the first. Of course, the Lakers needed every single one of those points from Kobe to put them over the top… but I feel like they could’ve had an easier road to this win.

When Kobe wasn’t chucking shots, their ball movement was fantastic. The Lakers finished with a season-high 30 assists and Derek Fisher had his first 10-assist game in a century (okay, since Jan. 11, 2009). I would’ve loved to see more movement in the fourth quarter, though. That way, we wouldn’t have stressed over this contest in the last half hour or so.

Also, I can’t forget to mention Matt Barnes, who has solidified his position as the starter on the 3 spot. He finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 dimes. This spot will be his for a while.

And lastly, shoutout to Darius Morris for getting some PT with Steve Blake out.

The Bad:
This shouldn’t have finished as a five-point game.

We’d all like it better if they took care of the ball. They turned the ball often in the early parts of the game, which kept the game within striking distance. They finished with 17 turnovers, which is still a pretty high number. But I suppose that’s better than 27.

The Lakers were up as much as 19 points but they let them back into the game in the fourth quarter. And really, while everyone is going to praise Kobe for hitting 40 points for the third straight game, he basically played his own brand of basketball for most of the second half. The game of basketball can be really simple at times; what is wrong with feeding the bigs? Again, Bynum only had four more shots after the first quarter (and I had mentioned that he was being dominant at the early part of the game).

The Cavs also had too many offensive boards (Cavs had 13, Lakers had 7). Box out, Lakers. Shouldn’t be that difficult.

The Ugly:
To whoever watched this game at the fourth quarter? You knew how ugly it was. It seemed like the guards were content to dribble out the shotclock and then pass it to someone like Pau or Matt Barnes to bail them out. They didn’t score in the fourth until 6:31 left when Barnes cherrypicked for a dunk.

The starters played well for the most part, yes… but the bench was atrocious today. Yeah, it would’ve been nice if Metta World Peace (back, achilles) and Steve Blake (ribs) were able to play the game but I thought the bench could produce more than four points. On the other side, the Cavs’ bench scored 36 points. Yeah, that’s a huge disparity.

The Play Of The Game:
I like the back-to-back transition plays that involved both Pau Gasol and Matt Barnes. There was that fastbreak by the Lakers in the third quarter where Barnes lobbed it to Pau for an alley-oop lay-up. And then it was followed by Pau dribbling down the court that ended in an alley-oop dunk by Barnes. They should be BFFs after that little exchange there.

The Lakers are fun to watch when they’re moving the ball and in transition. They will need to do more of that against the Clippers tomorrow night.

But I suppose it’s nice to see Kobe Bryant to get 40 points again. I guess.