From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: The puzzle of playing Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol has been a daunting one for the Los Angeles Lakers, both offensively and defensively. While it’s clear that Gasol does not have the foot speed to defend many power forwards, he still has the ability to play as a “stretch” four in the sense that he is still considered a threat from the mid-range and his ability to read the defense and make the right pass is top-notch. The thing is, this puzzle was figured out long ago. When Steve Nash came back from his fibula injury in December the Lakers were running HORNS sets and they were working like a charm. As they pulled further and further from December, they seemed to drift just as far away from running the versatile set.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: If Shaquille O’Neal needed a nickname on his first day as a Laker, it could have been the Big Worrywart. As dominant as he was, the best big man in the NBA recognized he represented just a fraction of the Lakerscenters who had come before him. George Mikan won six titles while becoming Mr. Basketball.Wilt Chamberlain won two titles (one as a Laker) and scored 100 points in a game. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won six titles (five as a Laker) and was the league’s all-time leading scorer. What had O’Neal done, besides help the Orlando Magic go poof in a four-game sweep during the 1995 Finals? “It was something I was terrified of,” O’Neal said of the Lakers’ legacy of centers. “We made it to the Finals that one year. That was good, but it wasn’t as good as them yet. Because in my mind I’m like, ‘Wilt’s got two [titles], Kareem’s got six and I have none.'”
From Jabari Davis, Lakers Nation: Earlier this season, I wrote what some would consider to be a ‘scathing’ article about Shaquille O’Neal’s seeminglypersonal issues with newly-acquired superstar big man, Dwight Howard. As I stated in the previous article, honest assessments and criticisms are entirely fair and precisely what we tune in to TNT’s Inside The NBA for. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be what was taking place at the time, and I was immediately concerned with how things would play out during O’Neal’s eventual jersey retirement ceremony.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: When Kobe Bryant got ring number five, he couldn’t hide his glee at having more rings than his rival Shaquille O’Neal — he talked about it in his press conference minutes after the game ended. Now, on the day the Lakers will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey, Kobe told Marc Spears of Yahoo that he likes to remind the big man who has more hardware.“I always remind him every time I see him,” Bryant, who’s won five championships with the Lakers, told Yahoo! Sports. “I saw him after the All-Star Game and said, ‘How you doing, ‘Four’ ?’ He said, ‘Oh, you [expletive].’ [Our relationship is] really good now. We have such a mutual respect for each other.”
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: When the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed Dwight Howard to the practice facility for the first time this summer, general manager Mitch Kupchak pointed out the window of his office to the retired jerseys over the court and said he wanted Howard to be recognized there someday. Another “Superman” will already be up there if that happens for Howard. The Lakers are retiring Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 during their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. While Howard and O’Neal have publicly traded barbs in the past, including Howard saying O’Neal was “done” and “it’s time to move on” after O’Neal had criticized him at the beginning of training camp this season, Howard had nothing but praise for O’Neal on this occasion.
@mcten: On the Dwight health front, D’Antoni recently called DH 100%. Howard was asked if he was at full strength. DH: “Nowhere near full strength”
w/ Nash Lakers O avg. 102.3 pts a game
w/ Nash Lakers D allow 103 pts a game
w/o Nash Lakers O avg. 102.6 pts a game
w/o Nash Lakers D allow 98.6 pts a game
The number without Nash is the same amount a high powered Kings offense had last game. Records with and without Nash both hover around .500, but they are a better defensive team when he sits.
Kevin – where are you getting the above numbers from on Nash? They are very different from the numbers at 82games and Basketball Reference, both of which have the Lakers being about a half point worse per 100 possessions with Nash on the floor. Your numbers are suggesting they are almost 5 points worse per game with Nash on the floor. Considering the Lakers average just less than 100 possessions per game, this is a huge difference and I suspect something is not right with your numbers.
Darius Soriano says
Kevin (and Rob99),
Points per game isn’t really a good metric to use since it’s highly impacted by pace. Points per possession or Offensive Efficiency (points per 100 possessions) is really the way to go. So, with that said:
When Nash is on the floor:
Lakers’ Offensive Efficiency: 106.2
Lakers’ Defensive Efficiency: 104.9
When Nash is on the bench:
Lakers’ Offensive Efficiency: 104.9
Lakers’ Defensive Efficiency: 102.9
Basically, the Lakers have a net positive efficiency whether Nash is on the floor or not. Said another way, their offense consistently out-performs their defense, even if by a relatively small margin. They’re a very good offense when he plays, but their defense is pretty poor. When he sits, their offense is still very good (though not as good) but their defense improves.
Basically, these numbers reflect the difference between Nash and Blake, in my opinion. Blake is the better defender but not as good as an offensive player.
As an aside, all of these numbers are available at nba.com/stats. I’d recommend everyone visit that site as there’s a bunch of great information there.
Rob99: I tallied the final scores up myself off basketball reference’s box scores. Reviewed about 3 times to make sure they’re correct. Just looked at them again and you are right. Thanks for catching the mistake. Still in the plus side instead of negative with him playing. Maybe I should just stick to the eye test.
Last line should read: w/o Nash Lakers D allows 100.1 pts a game.