Portland Trail Blazers vs Los Angeles Lakers
Fri Apr 3, 10:30 PM EST – ESPN, TWSN, CSNW
Line: POR -10.5, O/U: 203.0
Staples Center – Los Angeles, CA
The Lakers only have eight remaining games. Of those eight games, they play Portland (tonight), the Clippers (twice), the Mavericks, the Timberwolves, and the Kings (twice). If you are paying attention to the lottery odds — who am I kidding, if you are reading this you are paying attention — the Lakers currently have a 1.5 game “lead” on the Magic for the 4th worst record in the league, boasting two fewer wins and one more loss than their Florida counterparts.
This makes these final games pretty important from the standpoint of the Lakers retaining their pick in the upcoming June draft. Assuming the Magic do not win another game (they play the T’Wolves, Bucks, Bulls, Raptors, Knicks, Heat, and Nets) the Lakers can only win one more game on the season to firmly stay “ahead” in the chase for 4th. If you need a reminder of why 4th is more important than 5th, the odds of the Lakers keeping their pick are roughly 83% if they finish with the 4th worst record. Their odds drop to close to a 50/50 (about 55%) chance if they finish with the 5th worst record. While I have not rooted for losses this year, it would be silly to say this isn’t at least somewhat important.
This will be the backdrop of every single game the Lakers play for the rest of the season. While there were chances to tighten up their odds in games against Philly (two wins) and the Wolves (one win) in recent games, the Lakers did not “help” themselves in the standings by getting W’s. This means watching how Orlando does (their games against the Knicks and T’Wolves should be interesting) will become a pastime for many who root for the Lakers. Anxiety will follow. Trust me.
The games go on, though, and Friday the Blazers visit Staples Center in the hopes of bouncing back after a tough loss against the Clippers on Wednesday. That game saw Chris Paul dominate, scoring 41 points while dishing out 17 assists to only a single turnover. Paul seemed to take the game personally, especially after being showed up by Steph Curry just a night earlier in a fantastic back-and-forth game against the Warriors. This game, then, will give Lillard a chance to do the same as Paul did to him — something he is more than capable of doing as he’s proven against the Lakers several times already this year.
Of course, the Lakers have their own up and coming PG who will want to have his own say in how this game goes. In Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans, Jordan Clarkson flirted with a triple-double almost all night, falling only three rebounds short to go with his 18 points and 10 assists (on 83.6% True Shooting, I should add). That led friend of the site Nate Jones to say the following on Twitter:
Lakers look like they ended up with two lottery picks in the 2014 draft.
— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) April 2, 2015
These types of numbers aren’t that new, however:
In his last 10 games, Jordan Clarkson has a PER of 21.2. Posting 57% True Shooting % & an Assist % of 32.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) April 2, 2015
Clarkson is now posting a PER of nearly 16 on the season, ranking him 2nd among all rookies. Of course, his individual numbers are not translating to a huge amount of team success — scoring the winning points/baskets against the 76ers and T’Wolves notwithstanding. But his play is encouraging nonetheless. Tonight, he will get to test his game against one of the top PG’s in the league, though if you follow Zach Lowe (and if you watched the aforementioned game against the Clippers) not a very good defensive one.
In any event, this is the match up I’ll be watching. In a way, Lillard offers the model that Clarkson should be looking to follow. As prospects, both came into the league as older rookies who had fairly seasoned and developed games. Lillard, of course, has made the leap to stardom. That leap is not expected of Clarkson, but he has the tools and has shown enough flashes to give fans hope he could make a run at it. That, though, is down the line and this is just a single game in early April. But it’s a fun distraction from the sadness of the first few paragraphs above.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on ESPN nationally and TWC Sportsnet locally. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.
Nice write up on Clarkson´s progress –
“boasting´´ two fewer wins…etc. –
Oxymoron? or Paradox? 😉
Long Grantland piece on the FO:
Not written by Simmons. Basically a mini-bio of Jeanie but a lot of Jim stuff.
Craig W. says
With all this discussion about Rondo – and innuendos about needing to sign Rondo to meet the minimum salary requirements – I think the development of Clarkson may be the highest priority for the club. If he continues to steadily improve – steadily, as in no regression to the mean games, being the key – then I think the Laker’s hand in avoiding Rondo is pretty forced. The West demands a good PG to even think about competing and Jordan is moving himself into key player territory. The Lakers simply can’t afford to let such a player ‘sit behind’ a Rondo and this is what would happen if we paid Rondo good money to join us.
Clarkson is quickly becoming a quality starting guard, rather than a good complimentary player.
Baylor Fan says
Should the Lakers decline Clarkson’s team option for next year with the idea to sign him to a longer deal instead? Is that allowed?
My take on the Grantland article is that Jeannie cannot let go of Jerry just yet and that is impacting her ability to do her job. The piece does a nice job of explaining the dynamics of the Lakers FO.
From the Grantland article:
Jeanie Buss is publicly optimistic that the Lakers can turn things around. Though unfamiliar with the nuances of the game, she says, she trusts the vision that her brother and Kupchak have for the team. More than anything, she believes in the brand.
Unfortunately, Jeanie didn’t share that vision and the writer did not ask her to elaborate as to what it was.
My take away from reading piece is that Jeanie is holding to what her dad wanted, that Jim run the basketball side of the business. I also got the impression that she will hold Jim to his announced three year promise to get the Lakers back to the top or resign.
That last comment about Baylor Fan was not written by me. Who would have thought there were two posters named Trip.
Darius – please clean up the above posts. The post attributed to me was not written by me.
Jeanie Buss seems just as clueless as her dork brother.
Please just take a moment to reflect on how horrible this roster really is..
It’s obvious that more dark days lie ahead
Agree with anon only I believe Jeannie is more incompetent. She is completely void of any of the intricacies If the game. Word is she pushed the Kobe signing and thinks he can play 3 more years. Also word I hear is Phil manipulated her to push West out after a shouting match between Phil and Jerry.
Case you missed it Jerry went on to build Memphis and now built the best team in the NBA GS. That was the beginning of the downfall of the Lakers yet no one goes there because she is so likable.
Get her out and Jim out and bring in real basketball people who played and understand the nuances of the game or become the joke of the league living on the past. Sorry but as far as BB IQ us fans have dumb and dumber and they are not even funny.
Orlando beat Minnesota.
WRT the article: it seems clear, from this and some other stuff that she has said, that there is some mild tension between Jim and Jeanie, especially WRT the D’Antoni hire and how it was handled. Like I said about a year ago, that only matters to me as a fan if it impacts FA recruitment.
But it all comes back to the same thing–improving the roster, developing young talent, and getting on the track towards winning. Sibling tension won’t matter if those things start to happen.
I read the article. I will say that the Buss kids follow their PR firm’s advice to the ‘T’:
1. It’s always Jeanie that talks. She’s a woman and due to working with her dad so long and publicly — she’s sympathetic.
2. Jeanie should deny any involvement or understanding of the basketball side so she can’t comment on why the Lakers’ on floor performance is a dumpster fire.
3. Intimate that Jim get’s so much criticism
4. Obligatory quotes from Mitch that he and Jim make decisions together so he’s to blame as well
5. Emphasize her relationship with her dad, a lot
In other words this interview was like all the others. It was for the most part a fluff piece. As Trip mentioned, Jeanie supports Jim and Mitch’s vision — which is never explained.
I am not confident in the Jim Buss FO’ ability to turn this around. This is an important off season starting with the pick and subsequent signings and trades. The pick alone and a healthy Randle moves the needle a little, but they still face a steep rookie learning curve. Clarkson was a 22 year old rookie and didn’t begin to shine until the last third of the season. So other moves will be necessary.
I am on record as urging the FO to spend cap space now as they are among a few teans currently with that luxury. Next summer every team will have the ability to add A max FA if they choose to.
Coach K moves on to NC Championship. Imagine, if he accepted the coaching job of the Lakers two years ago, he is now being blamed and under the wings of incompetent Buss Children running a premier team to the drain of misery. Getting a #4 draft pick will be their highest achievement, however they will always be lurking on the shadow, parading the achievements of their legendary Dad as if it was their achievement because of same surname. For the 3rd season, there is total disrespect on fans, legend players like Worthy and Horry who would rather do comic relief than analyze Jim Buss’ basketball mind or competence in forming a roster.
Orlando beat the Bucks. These are the lottery championship rounds.
Now now Oldtimer.
Who really are the fools here.
Us fans watching and hurting over this D-League 2 year farce?
The Bust family who in spite of the 2 worst seasons in Laker history will still make over $200,000,000.
Thinking we be the fools.
Is Ken really a Lakers fan? All signs point to no. He seems to have wanted us to lose our draft pick the entire year with meaningless wins.
Who are the fools here?
J C says
“These are the lottery championship rounds”
Haha perfectly said
Calvin Chang says
Frank Kaminsky has great leadership qualities. Plays with heart. Could be an effective stretch 5. If Jahlil and Towns aren’t available, I’d take a chance on Frank the Tank, then try to get Brook Lopez for max, and either Larry Sanders or Javale for cheap.
Westbrook is having an unbelievable season. He’s doing more with less than Harden, and James. Thus he’s my MVP choice!
No of course I want them to lose. That’s not the point. To fool the fans by signing Kobe to the highest salary in NBA while pretending they might sign CA or LJ was all the bait and switch to keep season tickets sales up.
Fans got punked with worst team in history and Bust family makes $100 mill a year. Even with a top 5 what makes you think this is even a .500 team next year? Jimmy/Jeannie set this franchise back years with fool moves.
But at least we have Clarkson. He being the only one we can count on based on his play.
Baylor Fan says
It must be brutal to be a Thunder fan and see Harden walk away with the win.
Calvin: Brook Lopez to a max salary? Seriously? The same Lopez who misses 50 games a year to injury every year but has had a decent little stretch the last month of a contract year… THAT Brook Lopez? He is NOT a player you build your team around, and would likely only earn one years salary worth of that. His brother is more deserving, at least he plays hard all the time and doesn’t have foot and leg issues. Please God, no max salaries to B-level players, especially fragile ones or those on the wrong side of 30! No Lopez, no Rondo, no Greg Monroe… These are NOT max players! Is this what us Lakers fans have come to, so desperate for ANYONE to play for us we advocate for max salaries to declining stars/players who are their own teams’ second or third best player on a squad that won’t make the playoffs in the EAST???