From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: Everyone who follows the NBA understands how important the second unit is to not only winning games but winning championships. The moves the Lakers made in the offseason certainly filled their needs — a proven point guard in Steve Blake to team with high-flying guard Shannon Brown, providing a formidable long-range shooter and an athletic slasher. The departed Jordan Farmar was a fine second-unit point guard, but I think Lakers fans will be pleased with Blake’s efficiency, and I expect Brown to continue to improve.
From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: Most people think that 6-foot-10 center Theo Ratliff is an upgrade off the bench from 7-foot DJ Mbenga, who really didn’t get much playing time during his tenure with the Lakers. Ratliff has been primarily a defensive stopper in his 15 years in the NBA, even earning All-Star honors in 2001. He averaged more than three blocks a game six times in a seven-year run during the prime of his career. He’s No. 18 all-time in blocks and tied for 11th in blocks per game. That’s impressive.
From Dan Loumena, Los Angeles Times: A former colleague of ours, Scott Howard-Cooper, had an interesting article on nba.com about Magic Johnson possibly joining a new ownership group for the Detroit Pistons. Owner Bill Davidson passed away at age 86 in March and the family is expected to sell the team in the near future, likely to a Detroit group headed by Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Magic, an All-American high school player from East Lansing, Mich., and NCAA champion with Michigan State, has been rumored to be in talks to join Ilitch and Pistons GM Joe Dumars to become part of that group.
From Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: Lamar Odom won his second consecutive NBA championship in June playing for his team, the Lakers. Now he’s trying to win his first world championship in September playing for his country, the United States. Odom is the starting center for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, on a team that some consider too small and too inexperienced to become champions.
From Brian Cronin, Los Angeles Times: In 1971, the United States Supreme Court heard the case of Haywood v. National Basketball Association, which involved NBA Star Spencer Haywood, who left college after his sophomore year at the University of Detroit and was eventually outright signed by the Seattle Supersonics. At the time, the NBA had a rule that stated that no player could join the NBA until four years after they graduated high school (they adopted this rule soon into the NBA’s existence). So, naturally, the NBA took issue with Haywood playing for the Sonics and the Sonics countered by backing Haywood in an anti-trust suit that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 that players should be allowed to be drafted sooner than four years after graduating high school, although the rule was predicated on the player in question being able to demonstrate economic hardship that required him to pursue a professional career right away. The 1971 NBA Draft saw the introduction of a special “hardship draft” for these players.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Before change comes inspiration. Before inspiration, someone must inspire. Here is Jeremy Lin. Even if in his own mind he’s merely just another American kid playing ball, here is Jeremy Lin. He’s a somewhat reluctant torch-bearer for race. He has not even begun his NBA career and is trying to pursue his dream his way. His reservations are completely understandable – yet altogether secondary to the greater good. He is already someone to so many, and that’s the thing about inspiration: It’s not about the one causing the inspiration as much as it’s about the effect on many.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: It’s time again to empty out the Land O’Lakers mailbag. Just because we’re in the dry, forbidding summer months doesn’t mean there are no issues to kick around. After all, training camp is just around the corner. So without further ado, let’s get going. Q: Yo Kamenetzky Bros! I’m splitting season seats for Lakers/Clippers/Kings this year, and I have to go to this draft next week to select my games. Its a snake draft but I wanted to have my picks ready to go. So for time’s sake, can you at least give me your guys top 10 games of the season, in order from best to worst? Also I really don’t want to pick any Clipper games in the top 10, but do you think I need to select Clippers/Heat that early?
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: The Triangle offense has enjoyed a nice little run of success over the past 20 years. Since the 1990-91 season, there have been more champions who believe in the principles of the ol’ “Triple Post” offense than use some other antiquated stategy for putting a ball in an iron hoop. Really, when you think about it, it’s a minor miracle that so few teams have tried to give the Triangle a shot. If this were a copy cat league like the NFL, a full 60-70% of the league’s teams would be trying to duplicate success by running the Triangle, and screen-roll dominant guards like Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo might be reduced to coming off the bench for a few minutes at a time, as Kevin Harlan proclaims “It looks like the Hornets are turning to their Wildcat offense, looking for a spark.”
From Lakers.com: Early in December, the Lakers found themselves down two points to the Miami Heat with just two seconds left showing on the clock, though it was L.A.’s ball on the sideline opposite Miami’s bench. Kobe Bryant received the inbounds pass and stumbled, but managed to move quickly to his left before rising into the air, avoiding the outstretched hand of Dwyane Wade and launching a high-arching bomb. The clock flashed 0.3 seconds as the ball left his hand, and after the buzzer sounded, banked home off the glass. Lakers win.
From Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Lamar Odom (Lakers): His shooting percentage and scoring average has dipped the last three years, and he seemed noticeably average during the championship run. Odom still has value to the Lakers as a rebounder, but the rest of his game has faltered. Once the Lakers cease winning championships, his weaknesses will become magnified. And that could happen this season.
Igor Avidon says
Re: Shaun Powell.
Lamar played his best ball the last couple of years (huge part of our collective success). Maybe his stats dipping means he’s playing in a frontcourt loaded with better scoring options? I can’t stand it when writers pump out articles like that – they get major publicity yet say so little of value.
1) All you have to do is watch some games from 2006 and watch some games from 2010 and its hard to even recognize Lamar Odom as a basketball player. In 2006 Odom was probably the best or 2nd best player on a USA roster that had the likes of a Tim Duncan starting at Center. That year Lamar was a dynamic player for the Lakers. Lamar has lost the athleticism and physique that made him one of the more gifted players in the NBA. He is a nice guy off the bench at this point in his career… but he is no longer a star quality type of player.
Darius Soriano says
I too would have liked a bit more analysis when evaluating Odom. I mean, one of the reasons why his shooting % has dropped is because he’s been playing much more on the perimeter the past two seasons. His slashing has been reduced and hence he’s getting less shots close to the rim. Is this change in style related to aging? Was it injury related (last season he struggled with a shoulder issue that rarely got talked about)? Is this a trend that we expect to continue or with the aquisition of Steve Blake will Odom be asked to do less offensive initiation and more playing off the ball where he can use his good instincts to slip into creases and play better off of Pau/Kobe/Bynum? These are open questions that can be answered in a variety of ways but to avoid mentioning them at all, is leaving out a big portion of what could explain the recent decline while then looking at whether it will continue.
the article is a little bit apples and oranges in its choice of players, which makes them pretty easy targets. as darius pointed out, lamar has done a lot of things for the lakers, so the stats and his play will suffer (hasn’t the guy played just about every position for the lakers?) . jr smith, amar’e, baron davis, they’re pretty much one dimensional guys. Amar’e is in for a rude awakening! I think Yao, garnett, even vince carter bring leadership elements that would help offset their declining play.
I think its just an eye test when it comes to Odom. You can easily see he has lost a step and a half and his body also looks aged. The reason he has been on the perimeter is he can’t get t the basket as easily.. and when he does get there he has a more difficult time finishing. Don’t get me wrong… he is still an above above average NBA starting player and a very good bench player. The thing that saddens me is this isn’t a an injury or even age (he is only 30) that has led to Lamar’s decline… its just a lack of work ethic.
Darius Soriano says
I’m not as quick to as you to declare Odom as someone that’s lost a “step and a half”. But I’ll surely admit that last season we saw some changes in his game that reduced his effectiveness. As I stated earlier, some of that can surely be attributed to how he was deployed (either by his own doing or from the coaches). How much of that was based off a real physical decline is open to interpretation and you’ve made your position known…like I said, though, I’m not quite there with you. I mean, it takes plenty of athleticism to rebound at the rate that Odom did last year (his rebound average and rate both went up) and his movement off the ball looked as good as ever to these eyes.
Another point that needs to be brought up is that Odom, at least in the past three seasons, has played his best ball when paired with Gasol. And while LO got a lot of chances to do just that based off Bynum’s injuries this past year, I think we should still remember that Pau did miss 17 games this year (the same amount as Bynum) and that when LO did play with Bynum he did not get the same chances as a slasher/cutter due to fact that ‘Drew is different kind of post threat than Pau. Bynum has much more of a scoring mentality and his feel for picking out cutters and taking advantage of the Triangle’s off ball movement hasn’t quite progressed to an even average level to this point (though he was making strides near the end of the year). Essentially, I think there were several factors that can be looked at as contributors to LO’s drop in FG% and thus his overall offensive efficiency.
I hear ya. I though don’t really need to look at his FG% to notice a difference in his play. His rebounding has remained high possibly because he is long and has a great instinct going to get the ball (and still has some athleticism). I also think it may be because he feels the need to contribute in some way and that is the one area of his game that his decreasing athleticism/explosiveness has been effected the least that he is focusing so much on his rebounding. Cause he now is a specialty player. The only real thing of measurable value he brings to the floor now is rebounding. He isn’t great in the open court anymore. He isn’t great at beating his man and setting up for others anymore. It was so sad to see him struggle to get by Big Baby Davis in the Finals. That is a guy who wouldn’t have been able to see him going by 4 years ago. I urge you to watch some game tape (they just showed a 2005/6 game against the cavs on espnclassic) and I think you will be shocked at the difference in his game and his body.