The Lakers have had quite the stretch of games in the past week plus. Sunday’s win over the Pistons was their 6th game in 10 days with tonight’s game against the Suns their 7th in 11 days. The visit to Phoenix makes 6 of those games on the road. That’s a lot of miles to travel in a short amount of time. And while the feeling of getting a much needed W might propel them in the short term, I would not be surprised at some tired legs tonight.
That is the backdrop to this contest, but not the only variables to contend with. The Lakers will not be fully whole nor healthy in this game. Kobe Byrant will not play after going 37 hard minutes on Sunday and dealing with a stiff back and sore legs afterwards. Roy Hibbert broke his nose against the Pistons and will wear a mask while attempting to play tonight.
Much like against the Florida teams when Kobe sat out, I imagine Metta will start and the rotations will mostly remain intact as they are. Anthony Brown might be activated and used as an emergency wing, but I anticipate the minutes will likely just be split among the Metta/Nick Young duo. Jordan Clarkson may potentially see some minutes at that spot if the team goes small or Larry Nance Jr. could see some time at SF should the team go big. Otherwise, more Young, more Metta, rinse, repeat.
The match ups at SF aren’t the biggest concern for me, though. The Suns best players are in their backcourt. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight combine to score 42 points a game while handing out 10 total assists. They are the type of two-way, multi-skilled, and interchangeable guards I imagine the Lakers hope D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson can one day be. They both have good size, can both score or initiate the offense, and both can give their man fits defensively.
The Lakers’ duo, then, will have their hands full tonight, especially defensively. They will need to shade their respective man, play both close enough to contest jumpers while not surrendering straight line drives to the rim, and get back in transition. They will also both need to be active fighting through screens and locating their man off the ball as both guards will run P&R’s while also working on the weak side as a secondary option should a play break down.
Offensively, I will look for both Russell and Clarkson to give their counterparts a taste of their own medicine. Involve both in the P&R, work well off the ball, and use the dribble decisively to get to spots on the floor where they force help. If both Russell and Clarkson (and Lou and Young) can do this consistently, they can force Tyson Chandler to help and then a variety of other options open up, whether it’s shooters spotting up or the offensive glass.
Lastly, the Lakers really will need to rotate to shooters on the perimeter. The Suns, as a team, shoot nearly 38% from distance. And while their attempts aren’t high (19th in the league), their number of makes is in the top 10 because the looks are so good. The first line of defense will give up driving lanes, so the rotations behind that first line will need to be quick and sharp.
Where you can watch: 6pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.
Let’s go get win No. 3!
Yes, top 3 pick, right?
Kobe Alert: Wow – KB puts up 17, 9, 8, + 2 in a big home win. Is it 2010? Not quite and unfortunately we get a reminder of that tonight with Kobe not playing. We need to enjoy these while we can, because the number of games Kobe is projected to play this year is shrinking. Against the Pistons, Kobe moved into 17th in all time games, and 54th in Defensive rebounds. He is also now within 100 minutes of Gary Peyton for 9th on the minutes list. The glimpses of vintage Kobe were very enjoyable. Let’s see if we can put up a W without him tonight. Tough game – but could really change the outlook if we put up back to back wins.
– Just how much can we realistically expect from our future Hall of Famers who were drafted in the ’90’s…and are still active. Only a hand full of these exist. This is how they compare to each other this season: http://bkref.com/tiny/afiBb
– P.S: all except one can put “NBA champ” behind their name.
From the previous post – thanks, Snarky G for the Pelton/Ford article. It highlights the biggest concerns I’ve had with the FO (excluding the drama between Jim and Jeanie): trying to pursue two incompatible objectives (win now vs. develop young players) and the lack of an apparent plan to make the pieces fit together. Maybe when you are as bad as we are you just need to pick the best players you can get in draft and then figure out what to do with them, but it doesn’t explain the FA signings.
This game will be a good test of the backcourt, the new focus on defense and the team’s overall desire since it’s a back-to-back. Let’s start a win streak!
Williams is really bad…Can’t play the point ….and can’t shoot…(He is only career 41%)….
Wow. Lou Williams is stinking it up. Why isn’t Clarkson handling the ball up the court. Lou isn’t a point guard but he’s being used as one with him and Young on the court at the same time. That’s a recipe for hero ball.
Marlon Brando says
Bass at Center has to be one of the most infuriating head scratchers among many on this team.
Every second Lou is on court its crap. 0 for 4 tonight shooting 25% last 4 games. Release him, trade him or bench him. Just a joke out there.
Oh ok, 7th game in 11 days and second night of a back to back, that explains it. Russell’s shots are short, Lou missed a lay-up and Larry didn’t run fast enough to get that loose ball. The only one with the energy is Bass, who hasn’t played much lately.
This is 5th game in row JR has been a mess. Offensive fouls, bricking shots. Why is he getting worse? Explain?
Chris J says
If Nance were to become a starter I would have no issue with fast forwarding each minute the second unit plays.
Williams plays like he’s in a summer league pick up game, and Huertas belongs in the YMCA’s 40 and over Wednesday night league.
Randle needs to be more assertive with the ball. Every time he gets the ball, he holds it and faces up. The predictability of his move lets the defense completely read the situation without concern for a spontaneous drive or quick move. Reducing Randle to a handoff initiator is robbing the effectiveness of his quick step. I have a feeling this is more of a design of Scott’s offensive system than Randle’s play style. Really a seeming mismatch of skill to system. I believe that this is one reason Randle has begun to struggle so mightily.
Roy hibbert is better than tyson chandler,,
Also the lineup bass, nance, young, williams, and clarkson does not work
Defense has improved. Randle and Russell have not. Bass is this years Jelly. Kelly. Worthless. Mitch can sure pick em.
Russell vs the pick gets an f
Chris J says
He’s bad against the pick, but he gets beat off the dribble a lot too. It happens way too much for someone with his athletic ability. His defense is easily the worst element of his game so far. Hopefully that’ll improve with good coaching, provided that ever exists again in El Segundo.
Lou is embarrising bad. Did any of the great Laker scouts even watch this clown play defense. Or pass. If so they should be fired.
Randle also may turn out to be a mistake.
By far worst team in the West. One guy with any value is Clarkson. Thats it.
Matter of fact bass at center it just hasn’t and doesn’t work
pat oslon says
Russell & Randle both had bad games and stat padded in the end.
Hopefully they will bounce back next game because tonight they were totally out of it!!
Brandon Bass should not be playing the 5. Ever. Not when you have a much better defender such as Tarik Black wasting away on the bench.
When Mitch sees these things, what must he think?
You know what if bass at center is your formula for losing keep it up, it looked like the game was thrown
If were against a 7 ft backup Alex len, why not just play sacre
I’m with sacre as the new backup center
Randle struggles cuz he’s predictable with the ball
Meanwhile … Okafour tonight 8 of 15 with 11 boards.
Good thing it’s too early to tell which rookies will be the best or I’d just jump off a bridge now and get it over with.
Too many horrible TO’s and not enough energy on the boards. I was very surprised this game was within reach until the 4th. The Suns then turned it up a gear and left the Lakers in the dust.
Horrible game by Russell and Randle, I must admit. This is the first time they’ve had to deal with playing this many games in such a short amount of time. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Hopefully they bounce back next game.
So Byron Scott pulled the good ‘ol “man up” routine again, and im trying to stay positive, man that 4th quarter felt like a Holly Holm kick, i better stfu…
There is a lot to like about Randles game but I’ve seen 8 year olds with a better off hand then he has right now. Even with his good first step he’s too easy to guard. Lamar could get away with it because he was 6″10 with long arms, Randle is undersized for a 4. He needs to bury that 15 footer or learn a right hand, hopefully both if he wants to be a star.
We see this again and again. Lakers giving up offensive rebounds (18) and second chance points. Its hard to win games if you don’t box out and grab misses.
Baylor Fan says
Okafor has not shown any ability to play defense so far. I would rather have Russell.
What if Randle us just a guy — nothing special. OMG!
Baylor fan because Russell does? My 11 year son gets though picks better. Kid is scared to death of contact. 90% of Lakers problem is easy penatration 10% bad rotations. Russell, Marcelo and Lou might be three worst defenders ever. Smush Parker would be defensive genius next to them. Stupid planning pitting those 3 with 37 year old Kobe. But then last 5 year Bryon teams were bottom 3 or worse in NBA.
Oh well they are what they are. Bad.
King Kong couldn’t back that group up.
I’m not a fan of Randle. But the one thing he really shines at is putting the ball on the floor and driving to the basket. However, if no one has to respect his jumper then any NBA defender is going take that away from him. Randle has to start hitting the 15 to 18 foot jumper.
What Okafor has been getting on O, he’s giving back on D.
Russell: One point made in the Real GM piece linked the other day is that the system/personnel that Thad Matta runs/recruits at Ohio State was set up to maxmize Russell’s skillset. I was not aware of some of those specifics since I watch very little college ball. So, the real worry about Russell can be summarized in two words: Evan Turner. Matta’s system obviously made Turner look like a better pro prospect than he was, and it may be that that will happen with Russell.
That said, one huge difference between them is that Turner came out after this third year, whereas Russell was a one-and-done. But it may be something to keep an eye on down the line.
Team: Again, the idea that this team would surprise people and win 35 or more games was almost entirely restricted to a vocal subset of Lakers fans and bloggers. Looking at tonight, Phoenix is decent; Bledsoe, Chandler, and Knight are all probably better NBA players right this minute than anybody on the Lakers is, and the Lakers were on a B2B playing on the road and playing their 7th games in 11 days. The team running out of gas in the 4th was entirely predictable. Scott’s coaching may well be making the situation worse, but the issues (FO/coaching/player usage/team performance) are all interconnected.
Young guys: Clarkson/Russell/Randle may not fit all that well in some ways, but I still think that Byron should play them together a lot, at least for now, so they get used to being on the floor together. Basically, I think all five young guys (the three above plus Nance Jr. and ABrown) should be getting heavy burn. Most of the other minutes should go to Kobe (when he plays), Hibbert, and Tarik Black, IMO. I would not play Young, Williams, BB, Huertas, and Metta as much as Byron does, based on what I have seen. That team would of course lose big constantly, but the Lakers are 2-9 even giving the veteran role players a lot of floor time.
Just don’t understand why Bass is playing Center this year, clearly it isn’t working. Plus he doesn’t look like the same player either.
Our wings basically can’t defend, particularly our guards. Randle needs to put up more than 6 shots in a game period, if he’s going to develop to be one of our “core” guys he needs to be more of an offensive threat.
We look more like a 20 win squad than a 30 win squad, honestly we look far worse than last years team–even with all their injuries. But of course we have “upside” now, the ethereal “hope” to hang our hat on. But I continue to think we still need our #1 option guy and he isn’t on this team currently. I’m sure Clarkson would love to shoot 25 times a game, but he should not be our #1 option. Plus the Lakers need to learn to assist and rebound and defend, otherwise they will be bottom feeders for the rest of this decade. At least trade Lou Williams, clearly we need a 3 & D type of guy to play with these youngsters on the wings–Lou isn’t a defender. I was never too excited about Russel and I’m still not, but I suppose I have to wait a few years to see if he becomes really good–yipee.
Good post, as are many others. I definitely did not think this team would get to 30 wins, but I did not think it would compete for bottom 3. Now, not so sure.
Darius pointed out in the season preview that balance would be a critical problem for the team and for Scott. I don’t understand why the FO put him in this position, but perhaps I’m just too stupid to get it.
What I really want to see is the commitment to the young guys and I too would love to see the young guys play together. In a much earlier game I asked what I guess was a stupid question, but I’ll ask again: why not run two groups — young guys and vets, with two different styles? Or, just dramatically reduce the vet minutes? Understand Kobe remains a critical issue with this idea, but I think that could be managed.
The team is not making the playoffs, but does not progress, development, and wins from the youngsters. Let them go get it.
Joe Houston says
I am surprised no one blamed Kobe for the Lakers loss last night. Look, DAR is Kendall Marshall 2.0, I have challenged everyone to go check out his college games against NBA level talent, he struggled. He is very slow next to NBA athletes. As for Clarkson, here is the sad truth, he isn’t as good as people make him out to be. He is a bad defender and only looks decent because he plays next to a worse defender in Russell.
Lil pau says
In happier news, there was a shout out to Darius specifically and this blog in general on the K Brothers post game show last night. Sweet! !
The reference was Darius argument that D’Angelo should take more chances and be more aggressive even if that means some failures along the way .
Joe Houston says
Also, the Lakers have the worst coach in the NBA
@JoeHouston, SPOT ON with those last two comments!
Clarkson is becoming an decent player on Offense, but on defense….nope. I can easily see him jacking up 20+ a game next season once Kobe retires. Clarkson will have some big scoring games, and then a bunch of crap games. He’s not Kobe 2.0 that’s for sure, and on defense he is barely better than old often injured Kobe.
IF the team wasn’t so poorly built, young, and too old, Byron Scott would be an even easier target. But some defend his poor attempts at coaching and even worse “motivational speaking” AKA “Soft”, “man-up” blah blah blah. After this season is over they best get a new Coach, doing so now really doesn’t do us any good though IMO. Wait until the post-Kobe era truly begins. I really hope we at least trade Lou Williams to someobody that needs a bench scorer in the playoffs and we get some picks or additional defensive talent at SG/SF. May as well trade Bass as well if he’s going to be our back-up undersized center, if anyone would take him. The only pick up that made any real sense for this season was Hibbert. So yet another season where we battle against Philly for crap team of the year. Clearly the Wolves are getting better and the Celtics are turning it around pretty quick now.
Our younsters.man I am tired of hearing that. Guess what? They aren’t that GOOD!
Randle has regressed from pre-season. He has become a offensive foul in a China Shop. Zero right hand, no jumper and full of bad passes and TO. Last 6 avg 6 a game.
He has farther to go then Russell. As for DAR he is much slower then I expected. Gets beat by every quick guard and no clue on pics. Marshall was a far better shooter. Stop lieing to each other, no way he is a future star. Instead of soebding every waking minute in the gym like Kobe he had his priority. Lets find a stylist(friend of a friend( get big ol diamonds in the ears and be dunb enough to answer the Kardasian publist call and date Kendall. We will see that on upcoming episodes.
He needs a handler not a coach. Maybe a sit diwn with Lamar or the other NBA fool who married for a day that garbage.
Sorry but odds better he will be playing in Italy in 2 years then a star in NBA. Just more bad picks, trade and pickups by worst FO in NBA.
Highest upside is Nance and Clarkson. Russell and Randle will be just 2 more
mistakes. Sorry but the eye test seldom lies.
I looked at the Lakers schedule through the end of the year. We could be 5 -28 by the time January 1st rolls around. Yes, we are that awful.
I agree with rr — silly not to play the kids more especially when the vets are not getting it done either. This is another massive fail by the FO. As Todd said in a previous post the FO is trying to compete — they are not trying to lose. They are missing their objectives by several orders of magnitude. — that’s why we are losing so much.
Think about this, Jim’s goal, in free agency, was to have a core of Kobe, Carmelo and Aldrigde. His vision for bringing the Lakers back to championship level was to construct a team with a 2 year window! Even if everything went according to his plan we’d be mediocre at best. The kids are a fortunate by-product of the FO’s incompetency.
We can’t seriously want this FO to pick another coach, can we? How can you pick the right coach when you don’t know what kind of a team you want to have this year, next year or two years from now. This is not a coaching problem as much as it is a basketball operations dumpster fire.
The reason why Russell is not being aggressive is because he can’t. He is too slow and not athletic enough, especially now that he’s playing in the nba. We should have kept kendall marshall, same player half the price.
Joe Huston, the sky isn’t falling, it’s just spring rain to make the seeds sprout.
Don’t worry, everythings going to be alright.
To R: Comparing a center’s rebounds & points to a PG’s, while also throwing out the team, system, and player status?
Here’s another: Philadelphia 76ers: 0 – 11
Suffering from the “D’Angelo can’t do this, can’t do that” syndrome, with gas and bloating?
Then take a last few minutes of the game pill. It will have you feeling better in no time.
Don’t worry, everythings going to be alright.
You do realize, at this juncture, the odds that the kids are so/so are the same as if they going to be really good: 50/50. The frustration I and many feel is that in year three of a rebuild we should have more to hang our hats on.
The FO can’t hire the right coach, doesn’t pursue the right free agents, can’t recruit the ones they do pursue and owes two of the next three first round picks to other teams. If the kids aren’t really good this decade is likely shot.
That’s the reality of the situation.
I don’t understand why the FO put him in this position, but perhaps I’m just too stupid to get it.
Don’t know if you saw the Kevin Pelton/Chad Ford stuff that S. George posted the other day, but Pelton said that while he does think the Lakers should change coaches (Scott is generally a guy to treat with disdain for the sabermetric media and its various off-shoots) he put the Lakers’ issues more on Kupchak/FO.
And again, I mostly agree with Todd’s overall summation of the situation.
As to the two different styles/units/cadres idea, as you note, that would be tough with Kobe. My take, as it often is, is to keep things simple, (I am a simple guy) as I said above: play the young guys, play Kobe 28-30 min when he suits up, use Hibbert and Black at the 5, and spot in the other guys. That would get six young guys in the rotation. Williams, Young, BB, and Huertas are all guys that could have roles on a playoff team, (Huertas as a 3rd-string PG) but I don’t see all that much point in having them play a lot on a team like this.
I could also see an argument for trying Kelly and Randle together in spurts, in spite of the major, major issues they would have on D.
Here’s another: Philadelphia 76ers: 0 – 11
Great, we’re two games better than a team that is trying to lose every game.
T. Rogers says
Both Randle and Russell had bad games last night. That’s going to happen with two rookies (I consider Randle a rookie). Some are really fretting over whether Russell is Curry/Westbrook/CP3 2.0 or not. None of us knows. I don’t think he needs to be the second coming. The trend around the league is spacing, ball movement, and depth. OKC has the real Russell Westbrook and they have been underwhelming so far.
The Celtics and Bucks should be the model for the Lakers. No they aren’t great. But they are trending in the right direction. They have depth and systems that maximize the skill sets of the players on the roster. That is what I am hoping for with Russell, Randle, and Clarkson. It is why I get frustrated when the three of them are not spending a good amount of game time on the floor together. It is why all three of them should get playing time over guys like Williams, Huertas, Young, and Bass.
Dwight, this is year One, of the rebuild, Not Three. Though if you want to be technical, the rebuild won’t officially begin until Jersey #24 is hanging from the rafters.
And we SHOULD BE tanking, while training our kids.
Anything else is an illogical and future damaging waste of time and frustration.
Enjoy the kids as they stumble, learn, and eventually gel.
That is all you are going to get this season, regardless.
this is year One, of the rebuild, Not Three.
What was 2013/14 (27-55) and 2014/15 (21-61)? Are saying that the FO was trying to compete and simply missed the boat?
Those were patch job years.
So, Jim is supposed to get to the Western Conference Finals with this team by next year. Good luck with that.
Clay Bertrand says
DEFENSE is a big deal. But Individual defense is both rare and a little overrated in today’s NBA.
VERY FEW players are good individual defenders. Aside from Kawhi Leonard, Dray Green, Tony Allen, a little bit of Metta, and a handful of others you will find that MOST NBA players are NOT good individual defenders.
First off, the rules have changed that give the offensive player the clear advantage when he has the ball. No more handchecking and physical bodying are allowed as they were in the old days.
Second, the rules have changed as to Illegal Defense and Zone defenses etc. over the years. It used to be that you HAD to play a man to man D in the NBA or you got the dreaded Illegal Defense call. The emphasis on TEAM DEFENSE has been influenced by these changes.
Third, the trend of the league is toward the smaller players and the Space and Pace style emphasizing 3 pointers and ball movement. This means that fewer ISO plays and less reliance on one player creating shots for himself/others are being run while shots are being created more out of ball movement than post ups or other traditional means.
Basically, the value in a guy being a good individual defender is still high. But the value in having guys be good TEAM DEFENDERS, good PnR defenders, and good fundamentals in closing out and boxing out is really what wins and its more attainable.
Golden State has 3 guys thought of as Good Individual Defenders in Bogut, Green, and Iguduola but the other guys are all very good at their roles in the Defensive scheme and are effective TEAM DEFENDERS.
We could always use more effort guys on D and more guys who care about individual defense. I just think it’d be easier to develop and install a better TEAM DEFENSIVE SCHEME and coach the players to each do their part than to teach each player to be a better individual defender.
But then, we’d have to have a COACH to do that……maybe next year???
KO—Clay Shaw?????!!!! He used to hang around David Ferry as I recall and dress up in some strange attire at times……I’ve been Clay Bertrand ever since I saw JFK!!!!! Good eye man!! lol No one ever gets it…….I’ve got a half dozen old student IDs as Bertrand…..lol
What was 2013/14 (27-55) and 2014/15 (21-61)? Are saying that the FO was trying to compete and simply missed the boat?
Well, Mitch said in an interview with Sam Amick that hehad thought the 2013-14 team could win “in the 40s.” Then they tried to sign Carmelo Anthony, and later Aldridge.
I think one problem is that they have been expecting that Kobe could do a lot more than he has actually been able to do.
Here are 3 things that I think can help Russell:
1) Scott needs to loosen the leash a little and let Russell play his game. I watched college tape of him and he was breaking down defenses with his superb ball handling and sinking shots in guys faces. Russell was constantly pushing the tempo, something you rarely see him do with the Lakers. Call more plays where Russell is the primary ball handler and utilizes pick and rolls. He can play off the ball and is not bad at using back screens or down screens to get easy buckets. Stop having Russell carry the ball up slowly, pass to his teammates and stand out on the perimeter doing nothing.
2) There’s only one ball. Lakers have too many players that need the ball in their hands. Kobe, Randle and Clarkson need to pass the ball more and stop ball hogging. Lakers must get rid of either Lou, Swaggy or both. Its already tough for Russell to get possessions in Scott’s offense. He doesn’t need his teammates hogging the ball too.
3) Time. He is only 19. His body needs to develop more. He needs to get used to his teammates’ tendencies or adjust to the rigors of the NBA. With time, Russell will feel more comfortable and be more aggressive as a result.
Who listens to Jim?
True comparing Okafour and Russell is an apples and oranges comparo. At least he does have a clue on offense and Russell isn’t showing even that, so far.
Okafour not a force on defense? Ok, well he’d be an excellent fit for our Lakers wouldn’t he?
For not being 7′ and standing under the basket, D’Angelo is doing just fine.
Chris J says
Stop having Russell carry the ball up slowly, pass to his teammates and stand out on the perimeter doing nothing.
Totally agree with this. His “offense” seems to be dribble up, just barely beating clock to cross half court in time, then rushing up the top of the three-point arc, picking up his dribble, and passing left or right. Where are the high screens to let him work his way into the paint? Or why isn’t he even trying to take his man off the dribble up top, as we see often happening to Russell on the other end of the floor?
To me it’s still way, way too early to suggest we know what Russell will become in the NBA, but it’s not too early to see there are problems with what he’s doing on both sides of the floor. I can’t say whether that stems from inability, inexperience, poor coaching or the high school-level offensive set Byron seems to favor — or some combination thereof. But something has to give.
Likewise, why does Russell almost never push the ball up court in transition?
Byron’s sets remind me of the late Showtime-era half court plays, but it’s a huge difference when Magic is the guy walking it slowly, and Kareem and/or Worthy were the ones setting up on the block for the simple “entry pass, work the low post” offense that was en vogue 30 years ago. That stuff doesn’t work in today’s game, and it certainly doesn’t work with these players.
KBJ, Great post !
Right on point !
Nash’s first 3 years held nothing to prognosticate that he would become a 2-time MVP and broken legged Laker. Not watching Philly but it is possible that Okafor actually has a system that allows for a clue. He’s also the offensive focal point of dump downs and kick outs and he’s not surrounded by a bunch of teammates who have to have the ball in their hands.
If Russell has more Billups in him than Marshall X.0, time will reveal. Russell has vision, handles, size and baby fat because he’s 12 years old or something. Not every guard comes into the league flashing their big juevos like Sam Cassell.
Someone made a point earlier that’s frequently glossed over about Clarkson in that it took all the perimeter players ahead of him to spontaneously combust before he got his shot to “develop”. Now Clarkson might seem better than what he is because he’s playing beside Kobe’s animated skeleton. At least he’s a gym rat which gives me hope. I’ll be concerned about Russell if he doesn’t show similar desire for ball.
it has been a 4 year demolition. rebuilding starts next year maybe
Russell is following Scott’s diagram, which evidently limits what a rookie can do.
If you really want a peek at D’Angelo unleashed, and you refuse to browse his college games, then take a look a the final minutes of last nights game; as it’s the only time he’s free to do what he knows how to do.
That kid has the skills to take over a game, don’t you worry.
Even Kobe approves of him, and that’s not an easy endorsement to gain.