The Lakers are back in action tonight, this time brining the show on the road to Las Vegas to face the Sacramento Kings. Or maybe we should call them Shaqramento. No, that sounds silly. Never mind. Anyways, this is the last preseason game stateside as the team will soon depart for China to finish off their exhibition season.
In any event, with the team back on the floor, we get yet another chance to evaluate this group, though they again won’t have their full assortment of players. Jordan Farmar and Wesley Johnson aren’t expected to play. And while Ryan Kelly is reportedly getting closer, he too won’t suit up. The team has also waived big men Dan Gadzuric and Eric Boateng, so the number of players available has been reduced in turn allowing the coaches to get a good evaluation of everyone who remains. After all, this group now represents the final one in which the final roster will be chosen from. And besides Darius Johnson-Odom (who hasn’t seen much action through three games and is the last of what I’d call a “camp body”), I believe every player still has a chance to make the team.
With that said, here’s some things I’ll be watching for tonight:
*Will the Pau/Kaman pairing offer the same success as it did against the Nuggets, especially defensively? The Kings offer a deeper and more “skilled” front line than Denver and should offer a different challenge than the one that the Faried/McGee duo did on Tuesday. Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins are all comfortable playing further away from the basket and that will stretch the Lakers’ bigs further away from the floor defensively. The Kings also have very good P&R point guards in Vasquez and Thomas and you can bet that they’ll run that action much more than the Nuggets did to try and take advantage of Pau and Kaman by making them come out and defend that play. How Pau and Chris play this action, not only individually but as a tandem through their communication and teamwork, will give us a better idea about how viable they are as a defensive pairing.
*Steve Nash has looked good in spurts, especially when running the offense and when given the opportunity to play in space. When he’s been pressed, however, he looks much as he did last year — it’s more difficult for him to blow by his man and it can lead to turnovers. I’m not really expecting a huge leap from Nash in this area — he’ll soon be 40 and isn’t the same athlete that can just get by his man at ease — but I’d like to see him get his legs a bit more on his jumper. Against the Nuggets he left a couple of shots well short, front rimming a couple of jumpers and not getting much lift when turning the corner to get those shots off. As the preseason goes on, I think we’ll see improvement in this area. Something to watch for tonight, and as we move forward.
*Can Shawne Williams continue to show off his two-way potential? Williams has a good chance to earn a starting nod this year — I honestly believe it’s a toss up between him, Hill, and Kaman at this point — but one of the things that will tilt the job in his favor is if can continue to hit open jumpers while holding his own defensively and on the glass. Defensively he has range and, as has been noted by D’Antoni in recent interviews, he will compete with anyone. But he must continue to give all out effort on that end while still going to the backboards to rebound his position. Look for him on the glass and how he fights on both ends. If he’s working hard, he’s likely inching closer to earning real minutes on this team.
*Speaking of the glass, will the rebounding improve? Of all the Lakers’ big men, only Jordan Hill is an “out of area” rebounder. Pau and Kaman, meanwhile, are guys who more often than not use their height and length to fend off their man and grab the boards that fall in their general vicinity. This can be an issue when the other team has out of area rebounders who will continue to work towards the ball even when being boxed out. I guess my bigger point is, the Lakers need their wings to be rebounders, especially when the ball bounces outside the lane or near the foul line. Gasol and Kaman will be fine around the rim, but this team must gang rebound around the rest of the floor.
*Who between Landry, Kelly, and Harris makes this team? Through 3 games, I have the impression that Henry and Williams will now make this team. If that’s true, the roster would be at 13 players. Mitch Kupchak has said the team may carry 15 players heading into the season rather than having an open spot and carrying only 14. That means 2 of the aforementioned trio can make this team. As noted in the Nuggets recap, Harris hasn’t done anything great, but he’s been solid on both ends of the floor. Landry, meanwhile, has not been hitting his shots but that hasn’t deterred Mike D’Antoni from commenting after games that he still believes in Landry’s ability to hit shots and claiming that he’s an “NBA talent”. Kelly hasn’t played at all, but one has to assume he’s starting to ramp up his work in practice and the coaches are starting to get an idea of what they have in him (as much as that’s possible in practice/drill situations). My point is all this? It’s time to see who does what in these games (do the trends we’ve seen continue?) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys get minutes in more meaningful situations with better players to see what they can do with the guys who are expected to earn minutes during the season.
Kobe Alert: I need to complain more often:
Why is this not bigger news – Am I missing something?
Well done and I have to agree with your points .
Guys who looked not do good to me are Meeks and Landry. Rather see more minutes for Henry and less for Meeks this year. Interested also to see Pau, Chris and Hill against Sac front line tonight.
Darius Soriano says
I’m pretty sure that’s not bigger news because 1). he’s *a* doctor, but not Kobe’s doctor 2). the team hasn’t said anything 3). Kobe was just interviewed at practice and he again held off from issuing any timeline — even saying “I’ll be back when I’m back” when people seemed to express a lack of patience.
So, yeah. Dr. Klapper is a respected physician from what I can tell. And I follow him on twitter too. But because he’s not actively treating Kobe, I really don’t take what he says as gospel when it comes to what he’s cleared to do. He’s taking soundbites from what Kobe says he’s doing in rehab & then trying to make informed diagnosis because he’s a doctor. But, to me, that’s a bit of a tricky situation since he’s not treating Kobe in any way (at least as far as what’s being reported, not to mention that he’d be breaking doctor/patient confidentiality by saying these things).
Agreed on everthing except re Landry: I just don’t see why he should make the team. All he does is shoot (and miss) rand last time I checked we have Jodie Meeks who’s more than capable of hitting 3s consistently when he’s hot. I know he’s a bit undersized but I’d rather him playing than Landry.
On the other hand, I’m impressed with Henry’s ability to go to the basket and score (reminds me of James Harden); Have to say I didn’t except much from him
Darius Soriano says
I’m unsure what you are disagreeing with. I noted Landry has not been hitting shots. And I gave no opinion about whether he should make the team.
i don’t know where Klapper got his info, but it’s probably accurate. Kobe himself said that he had the “green light”. Kobe also said he was about 3 weeks away from being in shape. barring any setbacks, he’ll probably be back on the court in 3 or 4 weeks. if it’s longer, it’s longer. why do we have to read any more into it than that? now talking heads are saying that the knee is scary. every season is a moment away from disaster. this season doesn’t really look a lot worse than any other.
evidently, the achilles is healed. that’s the what everyone has said. “it’s just a matter of getting back into shape” is what Kobe said when he refused to set an exact timetable. does anyone think that is something that Kobe doesn’t know how to do? why do we need an exact number of days?
I’ll speculate that the Lakers will eventually cut Darius Johnson-Odom and Marcus Landry and keep everyone else. Elias Harris is somewhat on the bubble but I think MDA is intrigued with his athleticism. They may want to see if Harris will develop. I’m almost certain they’ll keep Ryan Kelly. He’s a genuine stretch 4 and that could be of value down the road.
Sofiane, you mention that you didn’t expect anything out of Xavier Henry. Don’t feel bad. Neither did anyone else. But if you think of it, he’s only 22. Had he remained in college, he would have just graduated. In effect, he’s the Lakers’ 1st round draft choice. I like the way he attacks the basket and draws fouls. He also rebounds well for his position and defends OK. But his game needs to develop. He’s got to protect the ball better and share the ball with his team mates. This could be his chance to begin maturing. He probably won’t be in the rotation initially. But that could evolve. We’ll see what happens.
Slap Dog Hoops (SDH) says
I can’t believe the Kings are playing in that awful place where those horrible Maloof brothers live. Those two should never be able to purchase a professional sports franchise ever again for what they did to the Kings.
bryan S. says
Landry won’t make it here or any other NBA roster. He’s a safe cut because he’s likely back in the d-league and a phone call away if needed. Harris beats him out on potential–as does Kelly. I watched Henry defend Kobe with tenacity and physicality his rookie year. I see those traits in his laker tenure thus far as well. He’s a lock to make the team and win minutes once he does. As Darius noted, Johnson-Odom is the last camp body. Lakers will do their due diligence and watch the waiver wire.
Warren Wee Lim says
I think its too early to make an assessment as to who gets to stay and who goes. I say this because a trade sending Meeks and Blake elsewhere would really shorten our rotation, and purported injuries to Farmar and Kelly are still lingering. Not to mention that Kobe guy, he any good?
There might be a chance that those guys we say will be cut are actually kept.
PG: Nash – Farmar* – DJO
SG: Bryant* – Young – Henry
SF: Johnson – Harris – Landry
PF: Williams – Hill – Kelly*
CE: Gasol – Kaman
Three types of shots
Shooting over someone
Creating your own shot
Wide open jumpers
Who misses more of the 3rd one then Meeks the past year?
Pau to Kaman combo working well.
Joe O says
That was a poor 1st quarter.
They went out on a lime and borrowed several hundred million to expand and remodel the Palms Casino in the midst of a recession. They were broke and lost Daddy’s Beer distribution money the casino and the Kings. Stuff happens !
Friends of mine tried to move team to Vegas and league turned that down. Later same for Seattle.
It feels like a lot of jumpers from 18+ feet. But not necessarily threes. Inefficient.
(And it’s not just Young!)
* Edit – Of course after I post that, the 2nd quarter starts and LA reels off an 8-1 run with 3 long jump shots!
Joe O says
Landry should be cut before the team leaves for China but cos he already has a ticket they will wait until he gets back.
Do my eyes deceive me or is a D’Antoni team playing offense through their bigs!?
Lakers centers will out score and out rebound Dwight!
Of course that is Pau Kamen our new center.
I expect little from Nash this year. Need Farmer!
@Keno i think you might need to rethink that, Nash is healthy and even at almost 40 he is better than most pgs out there, people tends to forget than less than 18 months ago he almost willed a really bad Suns team into the playoffs basically by himself. There is more talent here and he only need to be the floor general that he is. He is going to be the one making these role players look like stars. Count on that.
True but health is my issue. Between back and ankle which has been bothering him I feel it will be a problem.
the other Stephen says
please stop calling him a farmer. he does not cultivate vegetables or livestock, he’s been in the nba for 6 years, and he won two rings with *our team*, so he should be well familiar to you. if you are intent on calling people farmers, i can refer you to chris kaman instead.
JF from now on.
@ Keno health is an issue of course but i really doubt he would get such a streak of injuries as last year, i dont expect MVP Nash but he should have better numbers than last year all across the board i doubt he will avg below 7 dimes again this year, if healthy. I think he is the glue, the key his passing alone will give the new younger guys miryad of open shots. I expect a good season out of him, he just need to have his minutes managed and stay healthy, i truly believe this team will be pretty good, the operaring word is health.
wow, they looked like they were already on the plane to China…
Minor correction: the Lakers actually play two more preseason games after the China trip, both against Utah. One will be in LA; one will be in Anaheim.
the other Stephen says
JF is good. our roster is looking shaky enough; i don’t want any horticulturists on the team.
Warren Wee Lim says
J-Farm is what he’s called. But yea its really annoying to see players getting called Crittendon (Crittenton), Odam (Odom) and Farmer (Farmar) … I suppose I’d start calling other guys Kamen, Gasul, and Bryent.
LOL @ farmer rant.
Lakers sure get lot of support from the media .
Bleacher report lists Lakers at 220 to 1 to win championship this year . Teams like Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto have better odds. Hard to believe names like Kobe, Nash and Pau means that little.
Names don’t win games… Players do. When your best player is Jordan Farmar you won’t win many games.
the Lakers’ best player is Jordan Farmar!!!???
wow! i guess i’ll have to calm down before i get a troll going any further…
Craig W. says
One reason to take the media with an enormous grain of salt is their continual habit of ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach to sports. There seems to be very little analysis beyond box scores and gossip from a majority of the players – hits always trump analysis and truth. I know – there are good analysis out there – but most fit the pattern.
Because the Lakers were such a disappointment last year, last year must represent what they will be in the near future. Because Kobe is injured it is assumed he is pretty much done for this year. Because Steve Nash was injured it is assumed he will be similarly injured this year. Because Pau didn’t play this summer and was injured it is assumed he is in serious decline. Because Dwight Howard left the Lakers it is assumed they are no longer a viable destination and they will fall to a mediocre franchise. Because of all this it is assumed the big three of the Lakers don’t really exist this year and they can be completely discounted.
Therefore: Jordan Farmar is the Lakers’ best player.
I know, this statement was probably a writing mistake by someone, but it does point up the fickleness of fans and sports media.
Statistically as we have talked about wrote Farmar is the Lakers best player. His PER his last season in the NBA was far better than Nash and Gasol last season. If Kobe drops down like he will after his surgery Farnar is the Lakers best player. We will see. But if I had to bet Jordan Farmar will be the Lakers best player this up coming season. I’ve rarley been wrong before. Soooooo…
Definitely need to get Gasol on track to be a major player. These 4-13 games are not going to cut it.
Not so Fun Fact: Gasol’s Field Goal % has decreased every year as a Laker
2007 – 58.9%
2008 – 56.7%
2009 – 53.6%
2010 – 52.9%
2011 – 50.1%
2012 – 46.6%
2013 – ???
Farmar’s PER was 17.4; Pau was at 16.7 and Nash was at 16.0.
But, a lot of it was based on a 3P% spike:
I do think Farmar is the second-most likely guy on the roster to be on the 2015 team, behind Kobe, and even that could be a close call.
Farmar being the best player in the Lakers is the dumbest thing i read here for a while. You people need to stop reading to much those dumb “advanced statistics”. And i totally agree with Craig the media has called this team dead and buried already, i dont believe thats going to be the case. The reason we lost yesterday in a meaningless preseason game? Bc the players that were there for most of the second half were the end of the bench players and guys that will ve cut. Nash will come around soon enough im not even worried about him, people concerned about Pau poor shooting, again in preseason after not touching a ball in all summer, some rust is natural. This team will be better than advertised, not a chip team by any means but a solid playoffs team. Too early to start the whinning…
Neither whining nor making a claim about Farmar. Just providing a couple of facts and a couple of numbers.
Well I am predicting Farmar will be the lakers best player. Easy to do since he is in the prime of his career and his last season was better than anyones last season on the oppening day roster. Throw in the fact the two guys behind him (Pau and Nash) are on the down sides of their careers and it’s really Suprisingly an easy prediction.
Farmar is a second string PG on his prime or not. If he is so good why was he playing in Turkey last season? You give me to choose between a 40 year old Nash and a Farmar on his prime i take Nash every single time. People here conveniently forget how infuriating Farmar was everytime he was on the court his last 2 seasons in the team. A lot of bad shooting and terrible decisions running the offense. I commend him for being a Laker thru and thru and taking a paycut to come home and i hope he matured and became a better pg and i know he can help if he did but to call him the best player in the team is just ridiculous.
If he is so good why was he playing in Turkey last season?
It is not that Aaron thinks Farmar is that great; it’s that Aaron thinks that Kobe will drop way off due to the injury, and that Pau and Nash are done as anything more than slightly above-average players, if that.
Also, a lot of the optimism about Farmar is that he will be playing in a system that suits him much better than the Triangle did.
Ad always rr is right. Farmar is a very good back up PG in this league. That’s what he is. I’m saying Farmar being the best player on the Lakers is a sign of just how badly the Lakers are needing top end talent.
I have no doubt that Gasol being healthy and more on the focal point of the offense with the big baby gone he should go back to his old numbers, people need to stop buying into the media and stop talking to him like he is 53 years old. Nash is almost 40 i get that but all this crap talking about him being old at 33 is a lot of bull, i expect at least 18ppg and 10rpg from him stop talking about him like he is 53.