In our latest Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I discuss the lineup change which moved D’Angelo Russell to the bench, Jordan Clarkson’s play, Luke Walton’s tinkering, and more.
Click through to listen to the entire episode.
A Lakers Blog. Thoughts, reflections, and the odd rant on the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA (even the Clippers).
Craig W. says
I watched the game. I read the comments to the last post. I started to listen to the podcast, but couldn’t stomach it and shut ‘you’ off after a couple of minutes. That podcast sounded like so many fans, all emotion and no real thought.
The move to start Clarkson last night wasn’t so hard to interpret, but we fans simply won’t accept that coaches won’t tell us their motives for doing some things. Coaches are programed – justifiably – to keep their reasons for doing things to themselves, except Phil. Well, Phil did this too, but also manipulated the media to do a lot of his player discipline for him – further allowing him to make the narrative to the team an ‘us against them’ one.
Clarkson was clearly the best player on the team over the last few weeks. He was also starting to pass better. What we hadn’t seen was how he would work against starting talent in the league. We need this information to 1) evaluate exactly where he fits in on the future team and 2) increase any trade value he might have. We have all said this was a schedule loss on a back-to-back and what better place to put Clarkson into the fire?
Nwaba simply needs time on the floor to see if he will be part of next year’s team. Zubac is proving 19 isn’t too young to play a budding center, even if we can’t leave him in for 25-30 minutes a game. Julius needs time to see if he can do anything except charge into a crowd and pass out to the perimeter, plus we have to see if he can improve on defense. We know Russell and he will still start most of the remaining games – so it serves no purpose to continue to comment on this lineup change.
This is full on development mode people. Stop complaining about the lineup rotations. They won’t make any sense to people who want to evaluate them against any kind of norm.
Darius Soriano says
“I didn’t listen, but let me tell you about how you sounded…” Hahaha. Good one, Craig.
Craig W. says
Darius, in truth it wasn’t so much you that really frustrated me, but the other guy.
I just hear so much about who has ‘earned’ time and who would be best, if only the coaches had a clue. Then the same blogger will talk about this being a development year. However, they all expect the development to occur within a traditional basketball structure – then they also want us to tank. Really, there are too many new players to have a normal structure or rotation – if the goal is really to see and evaluate all the young guys.
It just seems fans want to have their cake and eat it too. We are full on development and examination. That means things are going to be very untraditional for the rest of the year.
Agree. Given some of Magic’s comments, it wouldn’t surprise me if he and Pelinka are using the remaining games as an extended try out for all the young guys. Magic really values competitiveness and work ethic, who doesn’t, but maybe those qualities are important enough that he would be willing to trade some talented players whom he doesn’t believe have that “fire.” In other words, none of the young guys are untouchable for the right price. I’m guessing whether we get a top 3 pick will impact which of the young guys are here next year.
As for some of the comments on the podcast, I think there is a difference when evaluating effort, expectations and capabilities. Everyone should be expected to give maximum effort, but expectations for each player are going to differ based on what they are capable of. So expectations should be higher for DLo in terms of points, assists etc because he’s more skilled and is paid more for his skills.
I wonder about Lonzo Ball’s shooting mechanics. Also read the claim that another PG, Markelle Fultz, is so promising he’s going number one regardless of fit. I’d rather see the lakers snag a wing – Tatum or Jackson – if they keep the lottery pick. Hope they have this delimma to face!
Wonder about Ball’s on-ball defense as well, which appears subpar to me. Perhaps premature, but if we have the number 2 and he goes number 2, then we have another defenseless young guard (albeit one who makes great passes).
A Horse With No Name says
I’ve been thinking this too. Josh Jackson looks like a Jimmy Butler/ Andrew Wiggins type of player. I’d rather another long, 2-way wing than a pg prospect. These guys are the most valuable currency in the kingdom. (Tatum from Duke is also intriguing.)
I only saw Fultz play two games, albeit on TV. So small sample size and ‘limited to what was on the screen’ observations. He was not Washington’s PG, he played SG. In my opinion he’s a DAR clone — a combo guard. He’s smaller, at about 6′ 3.5″ so he would guard opposing PG’s. He does drive to the basket harder than DAR (who rarely dunks).
Ball is more of a pure PG who’s game is all about getting the team involved and often sacrificing his own point total. DAR and Fultz are scorers who can handle the ball and pass.
Lonzo Ball must be great, his dad said he would had killed MJ one on one back in the day. So he must be good. I hope he gets drafted by other team and becomes the biggest bust of all time.
Fern, your post made me chuckle; thanks for that. Biggest bust of all time, huh? That would be quite a feat. Ever hear of LaRue Martin?
Yeah, of course. That’s how much his big mouth “one and done in college 2ppg same year MJ scored 35ppg in the NBA and i want a billion for endorsements for my brats” dad makes me wants to see these poor kids fail miserably. This kid needs to distance himself from his father like asap. He is that damaging. I dont want that idiot a thousand miles near the Lakers…
Why would you want a kid to fail because his father has a big mouth? Have you ever heard the kid boasting about himself?
david h says
darius and pete: I don’t even remember nor care who was laker’s point guard back when the laker’s traded for Jordan Clarkson; hoping he would be a good fit at the time. Clearly, when lakers drafted O’Angelo Russell their sites were on a starting point guard. To their credit; both are fine hybrid guards; both excel on the offensive end; both need and thrive with the ball in their hands. Clarkson, the more athletic, stronger, high fly, floater and streaky shooter is suddenly asked to start as point guard? Russell, the smoother, crafty, less erratic; streaky shooter is suddenly relegated to the bench?
Today, the lakers, not the players, have an issue at the point guard position. Today, the same can be said for all other starting positions.
Losing has a way of rearing it’s ugly head and finger pointing and excuses and back handed compliments tend to go away when winning ensues.
Thanks for the rant guys. I feel better now.
Go lakers !
Lakers Future says
Clearly there is a behind the scene situation with Russell. Because if the coaching staff is into benching players for not trying then there is a waiting list of players on this team ready to be benched. Luke can start with Randle. He is terrible defensively. Sometimes he doesn’t even attempt to rotate. With Clarkson the ball literally stops when it reaches his hand. And as much as people dump on Russell he looked better his rookie year than Ingram has looked this year. But Ingram gets a pass.
I just wish the coaching staff had some hint of consistency. Play him and put him in best position to succeed. Or do him like Mosgov and Deng and just sit him altogether. The mind games and BS reasons given to the media only serve to create even bigger stories and controversies. All the while the team doesn’t improve.
Sam, it would seem the Lakers are still so talent poor they need to take the best player available wherever they pick, I guess (whatever that means).
On the other hand, I do question them picking yet another PG, should Fultz or Ball fall to them. It would be really nice if they can land somebody who can and will actually play defense, and ideally won’t be a player we will be saying about: “he’s so young (who knows how he’ll turn out)” for the next three years. Although the latter is unfortunately at least in part of a function of practically everybody declaring for the draft when they are seemingly about twelve years old …
Experiment tried and failed, moving on. Not like we are fighting for a playoff spot. So in reality i couldnt care less…
Interesting observation: Go to Google and type in Lakers. This is a good tip if you want the score/box/schedule, because it immediately brings up the score and you can click to get box and schedule. But that is not the observation. On the right of the screen it lists facts about the Lakers. When we won our titles, other facts, and ownership. The latter is the observation. The data has recently changed. The Buss kids used to be individually listed and they were listed first (the minority names did not even appear). Now – the minority owners are listed and you must click on “more” to get a page that does show the Trust. The individual names no longer appear. A very simple thing – but one that I have waited years for nonetheless.
Well it’s something. I’d prefer that the buss children not even be owners but I guess we’ll take whatever small steps are taken, right?
I agree but step 1 was getting them out of Basketball Operations. Mission Accomplished !
I think I forgot my name again
Anyway the Google post is mine
Pete obviously has very specific ideas of what he wants to see for the rest of the season, but so do the coaches. Working with the players and figuring out what they want to see is their full-time job. I think it’s very probable that they know exactly what they’re doing.
As far as Luke himself is concerned, he’s not some crazy maverick coach with eccentric ideas. He’s surrounded by a large coaching staff and by front office guys who have to be concerned with roster construction. And by all accounts he’s a guy who appreciates input and tries to take it into account.
As for the Luke-Russell relationship, unlike us (who can only speculate) Luke actually lives it. The coaches work with these players every day. We have no chance of having the same perspective. Of course that means we need to try and read as much as possible out of the information that we actually have, but there’s always the danger of over-interpretation.
So Russell played 27 minutes off the bench. Other guys have been shut down for the season. They have to deal with it as professionals, too. I don’t think that this is a huge issue.
Joshua, you are right, it shouldn’t be a huge issue for DAR; if it is I would consider that an important piece of information. After all, the guy does have ice in his veins, or ice water in his veins, one of the two.
Now, if he was leading the lakers on a charge I to the playoffs, instead of nowhere, that would be a different matter.
If Lakers do get the #2 pick, they should seriously consider Jayson Tatum over Lonzo Ball. Why bench DAR when you can just start JC alongside with him… ? Both can switch off ball-handling duties and play off ball… adding Lonzo Ball just means another super ball-dominant player to a lineup that features 3-ball dominating type players in the current starting lineup… (DAR, Ingram, Randle)… not saying Jayson Tatum isn’t ball dominant, but from what I’ve seen he definitely can play without it in his hands or the offense running through him… his defensive (what Lakers need over anything) capability gives him the edge to me over Lonzo. I’m hoping this tourney run gives him a chance to go from the 3-6 range to top of the board.
Who knows the reasoning,..we all have our own guesses.
My guess is that Magic wants to light a fire under Russell, as I believe, that he believes that Russell has the most potential as a pg, but is not always as aggressive as Magic would like him to be.
This is another informative podcast, thanks! Luke is still feeling his way working with a young team. It will also be awhile before he establishes what does and does not work for him. I am completely on board with Pete’s suggestion to start the 5 best young players and see how they do. The advanced analytic team can analyze the offense and defense and help figure out how to get the most out of Russell and Clarkson. Someone else suggested that maybe it was Magic/Pelinka who wanted Clarkson to start last night with Nwaba and that sounds right to me. Remember, Luke sounded surprised that Nwaba had not been signed to a second 10 day contract sooner. Anyway, I enjoy the exchanges and hearing your thoughts.
Agree Fred,.. I enjoyed the podcast,.. Darius and Pete are a great pair.
LT Mitchell says
The first, second and third highest priority for the front office is to get the lottery pick, as it should be. From starting a player on a 10 day contract to playing World Peace…the front office and the coaching staff have spoken loud and clear. They will not do anything to jeapordize their chances of securing that pick. People are oveanalyzing the reasons why Russell was benched. Russell needs to suck it up and produce whatever his role may be going forward.
The fourth highest priority is to place the young players in different situations to analyze what their strengths and weaknesses are. I, for one, am curious to see how Clarkson will perform as a PG with higher usage. I want to see how Nance looks as a starter with the green light to shoot every open shot that is available. Playing Ingram occasionally as the point forward would also be nice to see. And last but not least, I want to see Zubac get 30 minutes a game on a consistent basis.
For the rest of the season the Lakers, in a sense, will be playing with house money. The players and the coaches should feel absolutely liberated. Allow me to explain what I mean.
1) VETERANS ARE BENCHED. Mozgov, Deng, and Nick Young will all be watching from the bench for the foreseeable future. Also, Lou Williams, as we all know, has been traded. Only the recently acquired Corey Brewer (31 years old) is getting any steady playing time.
This all makes sense. The coaching staff (and the FO) have all stated publicly that they want to see the Lakers’ young players in extended action. Clarkson will no longer have to worry about having his scoring opportunities usurped by Lou Williams. Brandon Ingram will not have to worry about Deng being brought into a game to replace him. Zubac and Tarik Black will lose no minutes to Mozgov who, as I understand it, will be a healthy scratch the remainder of the season. And so forth.
Therefore, no one should be looking over his shoulder. All the young guys will get minutes. They will start. And they will finish. They will play in crunch time. They will play together. If they get blown out, it’s on them. If they win, kudos to them.
By the end of this season, the Lakers should have a very good idea what they have to work with going forward. There should be few if any unanswered questions after the next 15 games. This is all goodness.
2) AN EXTENDED PRE-SEASON. As such, the rest of this season should serve, in effect, as a prelude to NEXT season. This is, in may respects, then, an extended preseason. Think of it. Since the Lakers are not in the hunt for a playoff spot (they probably won’t be a playoff team next year either), they can and should experiment.
A player like Jordan Clarkson who needs the ball in his hands early in the shot clock should have a full chance to play in a situation that afford him that. Clarkson should play alongside Nwaba. He should also play along side Tyler Ennis. He should also play alongside DAR and Brewer. Perhaps Zubac and Black should play together on occasion. Now that he’s more comfortable with his NBA surroundings, perhaps Ingram should play point forward a bit more. Etc., etc.
My point is that this is a great time for the Lakers to experiment (which I applaud) and to give their young players as much time on the court as possible together. Next year they may not be able to do that. But this year they can. They should take advantage of that opportunity. And it appears as if they are.
3) A NOTE ON JORDAN CLARKSON. For some reason, JC has become something of a lightning rod for criticism from fans. Much of the vitriol that is spewed at him (whether from Baxter Holmes or the average, ordinary Laker follower) is, I think, a bit excessive.
Consider the following: In the last 9 games (since the trade of Lou Williams), JC has absolutely played like a liberated man. These are his scoring totals over the last 9 games: 14, 19, 16, 20, 14, 22, 19, 30, 19. To parse that a bit: he has not scored fewer than 14 points in a game since Lou left the team. In 3 of those games he had 19 points; in 2 games, he had 20 or more; and in one game he had a career high 30 points.
Furthermore, in the last 9 games his averages have been as follows:
2.9 rebounds per game
3.6 assists per game
Over his last 4 games, these are his numbers:
2.5 rebounds per game
4.0 assists per game
When you have a player who has risen to the challenge as Jordan Clarkson has, you should showcase him a bit. He deserves a closer look, free from the facile cynicism with which many fans regard him. He’s been our best player of late. And he’s even starting to look like a leader.
We should see what he has. We should see what all the young Lakers have. Now’s the time to do that.
Renato Afonso says
Great post Mid. Perspective is needed here (among Lakers die-hards)
Last time I wrote here about Russell I got torched (I admit I used a piece on Clarkson to extrapolate to my position on Russell) but I’ll use your comment about Clarkson to go a bit further into this. Let us consider the future of the Lakers. Are all the young players to be kept? We don’t know and neither do they. Chances are that even if they all might become viable NBA players they don’t mesh together in the same team and become a contender.
Our backcourt defense is atrocious. The main culprits here are Russell and Clarkson. Are they THAT good on offense that their defense can be overlooked? So far, no. Can they improve, yes. Will they improve to the point they’ll become neutral defenders (good ones is out of the question)? I really doubt it. Clarkson has the physical tools but not the smarts. Russell seems to be intelligent but lacks the physical tools and, apparently, the will. So, please name me one serious contender where none of the main backcourt players can play defense. You usually deploy a 3 or 4 man backcourt rotation and you can live with one bad defender, not two. And don’t say anything about this year’s Rockets as they are yet to prove themselves in the playoffs. The Warriors can live with Curry because he is an exceptional offensive player but they deploy Klay, Livingston and Iguodala to cover up for him. So, yes, the Lakers have a problem there. I wrote about it early last season and the problem is far from solved. I believe we have to trade one of them. Clarkson is a Lou Williams type of player. A scoring guard off the bench on an affordable contract. Russell is a typical starting guard with good skill and still a lot of potential on a rookie contract. If the FO believes that Russell can be a Curry or Harden-level player, then they should trade Clarkson. Else, the obvious player to trade is Russell, as he may grant better players in return do to his “potential”.
Randle is a different type of problem. His right hand is also not developing at the pace it should be nor his mid-range shot. His defense can be good (and already showed it this season) as long as his opponent is not 7′ tall. However, he seems desinterested more often than not and if starting at PF for the Lakers while making millions in the process is not motivating enough, then a trade should also be explored. This is a concern because, as I also said before, Randle and Nance eat each other’s minutes up and they both need to be developed. We’re at the end of year 2 for Randle and Russell and their weaknesses very much remain at the same level. Sure, they improved their strengths but they’re on the way to be severily flawed players if their weaker parts of the game stay the same.
Zubac and Ingram are rookies, so they get a pass the other two don’t. Plus, both Zubac and Ingram seem to play defense. Ingram must gain some muscle, improve his shooting % and cut TO’s down when handling the ball. These are flaws the are usually corrected as a player ages. Ingram will gain some strength due to aging and physical workouts. His % will improve as he learns to get more open and the game slows down. His defensive instincts are good and he is fundamentally sound. I’m very high on Ingram. The same can be said about Zubac. I’m very high on these two as their areas in need of improvement are easy to work.
So important to remember as Laker fans that we need to protect our assets in the arena of public opinion, so we don’t tear them down so much that we reduce their trade value. Being an NBA fan in 2017 is so different than just 10 years ago, and all real fans are quite cognizant of the business component of modern day competition that makes tanking a sensible strategy for building a championship roster again. We don’t need to expend too much energy ripping our team apart. We all know we need to lose almost every game – but we need our core to look reasonably good in the process. Doing otherwise is simply bad business.
Me Watching the Game, In my head “please lose, please lose, please lose”, out loud, come on!!!!! show some effort!!!!!!!!
I feel for these guys, THE TANK IS IN!!!!!!!!, Clear orders from the Brass to tank and make sure they lose, they don’t want to be remotely close to the third pick, and you can tell on Waltons face and all the players faces.
They are being put in a situation to lose. The lineups are purposefully dysfunctional, to promote a lack of rhythm and cohesiveness.
Which hurts because they have to lose, that draft pick is a huge asset and it should be the number one goal, second is development of the players and that hurts so much more because i want so bad for them to succeed… I hate this trust the process B@# S&!$
Thanks for the podcast. You guys where asking why Ingram gets a pass and Russell doesn’t. Well it comes down to two things. The first you guys hit on is personality. Ingram never pouts or gets flustered when things aren’t going well. The second is Ingram is engaged on defense and provides other intangibles when he isn’t scoring. Lately Ingram has been much better on offense boosting his FG% from .386 on the season to .470 in the last 10 games.
I agree that an argument can be made that Russell is currently the Lakers best player. I believe he is sometimes undervalued because of what is expected of him versus what he can actually do. Though guys like Zubac and Ingram who look promising to have a strong 2 way game could be in this discussion soon.
You guys mentioned Josh Jackson replacing Ingram. I would think Jackson could be slotted in the SG position in p[lace of Young. Jackon has started this year at SF, SG, & PF and looks to project to playing either SF or SG in the NBA..
One of the most compelling reasons to draft Jackson is that he would be a positive defender and I believe would help more in the back court than by taking away one of few guys in the line-up who can play defense in Ingram. Jackson might be my favorite possibility based on how he could impact the Lakers defense.
Renato Afonso says
Josh Jackson would be the ideal pick. Ingram+Jackson combo at SF/SG would be great.
Two more possibilities for the benching of Russell:
1. He may have already proven his potential, and now is part of the tank strategy.
2. and these are not either-or: Clarkson’s talent and drive are being showcased,.. hmmm ? Lol,..
Seriously though, I like Clarkson and would hate to see him go,..but I had to choose between him or Russell,.. I’m going with the latter, as they are pretty much on par stat wise now, however considering their ages, gives Russell much more room, to bloom.
Sid Walker says
Looks like it’s going to take more than one season to get over the “it’s ok to lose” mentality the Lakers got use to the last 3 seasons. This is part of the backlash of the personnel decisions of those seasons. It’s going to take time to get over the Kobe Hangover.
Rick in Seattle says
Lots of good observations. Very likely this could be the Lakers last season in the lottery. No more protections after this season. Gagle of good young players. a new coach, a brand new front office (with an agenda from Jeanie), and a higher liklihood of trades this summer.
Speaking of trades, here is a thought that just crossed my mind. Lately, a lot of the Lakers news has been around the improved play of Clarkson & Randle. Has anyone considered the possibility that they are being showcased?
Reports out of New Orleans are that Cousins & Davis are not meshing real well. With Boogie being a free agent in 2018 (just like Paul George), he could leave and they would receive no compensation. Looks like a growing possibility that Cousins could be had for the right package? Perhaps a ‘rejuvinated’ Clarkson & Randle, indefinitealong with a 1st rd pick for Boogie? Sure would be nice to move Deng at the same time…
Anybody else thinking that the Lakers FO could be having similar ideas along these lines as well?
Not trying to start an unfounded rumor, but it seems really coincidental that both players have had ‘career’ games recently, Clarkson scoring 30 and Randle 32?
Anyone else out there getting a similar feeling?
They are just getting more reps, and Houston starts Ryan Anderson at the 4. I think it is fair to say that D’Antoni didn’t care at all about how many points Randle scored in the game, since MDA was confident that Houston would bury the Lakers from the arc.
Lakers Future says
Reminds me of D’Antoni’s Suns and their approach to Kobe. When the Suns were contenders Mike was content to put Bell on Kobe one on one and let Kobe sore all game. He knew as long as the other Lakers never went off the Suns would win almost every time. That one playoff series where the Lakers scared the Suns happened because Kwame Brown (of all people) starting scoring decent points from the paint.
I got the same feeling watching Randle against Houston. That goes double since most of Randle’s shots were two pointers. D’Antoni will give those shots up all day.
J C hoops says
Showcasing to increase trade value.
Another reason Russell’s on the bench. They want to keep him, I believe.