Busy day, and Iâ€™m still a little frustrated with the loss from last night. so Iâ€™m going to some bullet points for discussion. (The previously mentioned pick-and-roll post needs polish but I should post that Wednesday.)
â€¢ Almost 25 games in is long enough to have formed opinions about off-season moves.
The Lakers biggest off-season acquisition â€” Phil Jackson â€” has paid off better than expected. This team had a lot of parts that didnâ€™t seem to mesh well on paper, but Jackson is finding ways to do it. For example, bringing Kwame Brown off the bench and telling him to rebound like a madman (or Dennis Rodman, if you prefer). For the last three games (since returning from injury) Kwame has looked much better (despite some glaring defensive mistakes). He is never going to be a great NBA player, but he has more than enough skills to be a solid one and Jackson seems to be getting through to him. (Ask me about that again in a few weeks.) Combine that with guys like Walton, Cook and D. George finding places they can play in the triangle and the Lakers are starting to look like a playoff team most of the time.
But the biggest improvement is on defense, where the Lakers are 3.5 points per 100 possessions better â€” or look at it this way, last season they were 29th in the league, this season they are 12th. There are still lapses (see the Houston game) but overall, things are much better. Remember how last season we kept saying, â€œif the defense was just average this team would be so much better..â€ Well, thatâ€™s what we got.
â€¢ Also remember how many people said Larry Brown should be the Lakers coach? Ask Knickerblogger how thatâ€™s going.
â€¢ Sticking on the East Coast, Hoopsanalyst has a good piece on Netâ€™s GM Rob Thorn.
â€¢ One of the keys to the Lakers success is the players are fitting in the system. A prime example of that gone wrong: Did you see Stromile Swift last night? One of the leagueâ€™s most athletic players is in a stranglehold in the Van Gundy offense. Swift is a guy who would thrive in Phoenix, Golden State, Washington, Denver â€” the teams that run up and down the court looking to push the tempo. He looks like a caged tiger in Houston.
â€¢ If youâ€™re not reading (and commenting) at CourtsideTimes.net I want to encourage you. Do you think Vince Carter is the toughest guy to guard in the NBA? Andre Iguodalda does. Also, the always popular â€œwho should make the Hall of Fameâ€ discussion goes on over there (and Iâ€™m still not convinced Reggie Miller deserves to be in).
â€¢ Iâ€™ll be watching the Christmas Day game against Miami on TiVo, as the entire family is coming over to my place so Iâ€™m spending the day in the kitchen (in my household, I am the main cook, not my wife). My biggest concern is what side dishes to serve, so Iâ€™m open to suggestions.