The Lakers played an interesting game against the Clippers on Saturday by faltering terribly early in giving up a 17-0 run to start the game, only to come back to lead briefly 32-31 and then only trail by 5 at the half. The 2nd half got away from them, but good performances from Brandon Ingram, David Nwaba, and Thomas Robinson offered some bright spots in an otherwise predictable game — at least from a results standpoint.
The Lakers now only have 6 games left in the season and with some winnable games left on the schedule, I’m sure there’s a growing group of fans who wouldn’t mind seeing the team continue to drop games to ensure the team stays “ahead” of the Suns in the race for the 2nd worst record in order to maximize their lottery chances. I’m still of the mind that the Lakers still need some good performances from their young players, for no other reason than to continue to add data to their off-season regiments on what works, what doesn’t, and how to best focus their individual training programs.
In today’s game against the Grizzlies, then, I’d like to see the team bounce back (at least somewhat *winks*) and find a better flow than they did against the Clips. Memphis has won two straight games after dropping four straight and now sit 7th in the West playoff race. If they stay in that spot, they’d face the Spurs, a matchup I’m not sure any Grizz fan really wants. If they were able to slide up to the 6th seed, a 1st round matchup against the Rockets would also be a major test and very likely end in a defeat, but that match up is a least somewhat more favorable with a more straight forward and executable game plan from night to night.
As it stands, the Grizz are two games back of the 6th place Thunder in the loss column (and three back from the 5th place Clippers), so a late season push up the standings isn’t out of the question. They will need to get healthy, however, and with Marc Gasol and JaMychal Green both banged up and missing games recently, that needs to happen sooner than later. If those guys miss today’s game, those injuries combined with any early start could create an opening for the Lakers to steal this game.
So, in that respect, this contest could be interesting. As we know, the Lakers can be streaky and all it takes is a big game from any two to three of Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, and Randle to not only keep the Lakers in it, but give them enough life to be up late. Most veteran teams with players as good as Conley or Gasol or Randolph are able hack away at those early advantages and regain control of the game to get the win. But, again, if Gasol doesn’t play or those other guys have a rough game the margin of error decreases.
Where you can watch: 12:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.
I think its hilarious that benching Mozgov and Deng is considered a component of the Lakers grand “Tanking Plan.” Those two flat out suck. If the Lakers want to keep their pick, its not like these two are gonna be winning games for them. Honestly, swap out Nwaba and TRob for Mozgov and Deng and losses will be guaranteed.
I know the Lakers traded Lou Williams. But he was a volume scoring bench guy.
The Suns are so blatantly tanking that its utterly pathetic. They’re sitting players that are actually useful in Bledsoe, Chandler and even Brandon Knight (although he has sputtered this year coming off the bench). Sitting Booker against Atlanta was downright criminal! Booker plays that game, the Suns win–easy. They lost by 4. Booker scored 70 his previous game.
The Key Dates will be April 7-11.
The Suns play OKC, Dallas, and Sacramento to finish the year.
The Lakers play Sacramento, Minnesota, and New Orleans then finish with the Warriors (on the 12th).
I’ve never understood all the hate for Mozgov. Actually, he’s a pretty good NBA center, decent shooter, rolls well to the basket. Yes, he makes too much money, so does half of the league. Deng, I really can’t defend, too old, too many years on the contract.
Mozgov didn’t make any material difference in the Team D, all his basic metrics suggest that he is barely above replacement level, he is 30, and in today’s game, he is a specialist, a situational player, a guy who should be playing for a contender on a short deal. I said in preseason that the FO seemed to think they knew something about Mozgov that everybody else had missed. All the evidence as of now suggests that that was not the case, and that the conventional wisdom was right, while Buss and Kupchak were wrong.
I suspect that there will be more spin from the org and from Jim/Mitch holdouts in the blogosphere to the effect that Mozgov has been a big help to Zubac. But the bottom line is that the outlay for Deng and Mozgov is more or less the same as signing a guy to a max deal for four years would have been (a bit more, actually). That is really all that needs to be said about the deals at this point.
I agree with your assessment of Mozgov with a few caveats. But, first we have to remember that Shaw worked with Mozgov before and walton described Mozgov as a key piece to what he wanted to do early on. Buss and Kupchak did not make that offer in th vacuum of space but, with input from their coaching staff.
Mozgov tends to play well when plugged in to face large dominant centers like Cousins. However, in the typical game Walton favors going with a combo PF/Center manning the middle to play small ball. Mozgov is otherwise unnoteworthy for his defense and questionable for fit. Which begs the question, was the signing of Mozgov a failure of experience to dictate a vision of fit? My hope is that Zubac is quick enough to encourage Walton to stick with him at Center.
A Horse With No Name says
rr: Props on your post @ 4:46.
Vasheed: To your arguments I would add that Mozgov can provide effective post defense if he is playing with capable defenders on the perimeter and the other bigs understand help defense. He had neither and was constantly left out to dry by his teammates. I think he has trade value, so I am hopeful he can be moved (e.g. to the Nets who might then move Lopez for assets). He also was under utilized as a roll man, which is one of his best skills. Walton, and to a lesser degree, Shaw, bear some responsibility here, as Mitch was trying to get players that Walton wanted for his system. (I guess Walton thought Mozgov could provide a Bogut-like impact . . . .)
I agree with your comments and the Bogut model is apt.
Mozgov: Those points aren’t wrong per se , but they go back to what I and some others said at the time, which is that even if the Deng and Mozgov deals “worked”, what was the payoff? So, let’s say Walton uses Mozgov a little better, etc, and Deng’s legs are a little more lively. Then what? The Lakers are 28-49 instead of 22-55? People would be freaking out over losing the pick, even more than they are now. This is one of many reasons I never bought the culture/mentoring arguments. Culture is great, but it doesn’t mean much without elite talent.
Celtics future so bright — ESPN rates top 10 prospects from 2016 draft — two Celtic picks stashed overseas make the top 5.
Boston ready to own the East for the next decade.
Yup — I saw that article. Chap Ford ranks Ingram 6th and Pelton ranks him 8th. Zubac is not ranked in either of their the top 10s.
The Celtics duo are Guerschon Yabusele, a 6′ 8″ 240 lb PF and Ante Zizic. I have no insight into Yabusele but am aware of Zizic. In doing my couch potato research for the 2016 draft I thought Zizic would be a great pick for the Lakers.
Now don’t get me wrong the Lakers did a great job in finding Zubac. Our Big Z is polished offensively and defensively in a throwback center sort of way. Zizic is 6’11 and 250 lb and has a much higher motor, plays interior defense well and rebounds like a beast. He lacks the overall offensive game that Zubac has.
So if we see the Celtics pursuing more wing or backcourt help in the draft and free agency its because they feel that these two kids (Yabusele and Zizic) satisfy their future front court needs.
SSR freaked out over the ranking of Ingram and wrote off Pelton since he works for ESPN. But with Abbott, Hollinger, and Simmons gone, Lowe more of a national guy now, the team being awful, and Kobe being gone, the anti-Lakers vibe at ESPN is much less pronounced, and Pelton was never really anti-Lakers anyway. That said, I do like Ingram more than Pelton does, in spite of Ingram’s shaky metrics.
Rick in Seattle says
Darius, we all probably share similar feelings. Yes, the players need to play well for a variety of valid reasons, some of which you mentioned.
Yes, its very fair to say that (more than) a few fans want to see the Lakers lose their remaining 6 games.
This late in the season there is no logical argument to be made to encourage wins at the expense of a ‘well-earned’ disappointing season, and lose a real opportunity at a top-3 pick in a stronger than normal draft?
Winning at what benefit? To strengthen the self image of a few teenage core players? At the expense of attaining a high quality player who might be a cornerstone of the team for the next 10-12 years? Seriously?
Teams are run as businesses. No owner, CEO or general manager would think like that.
Remember the famous quote by Allen Iverson, the origional AI, “‘man, we’re talking practice’!
Well, move that expression forward about 17 years and you can insert the word business instead of practice.
Following 4 years of a stagnant rebuild, fans are getting restless, the folks over at former Time-Warner who paid really big bucks for Lakers TV rights are getting restless.
Even ownership (see Jeanie Buss) decided that change is needed-via her recent front office purge, as well as her publically and privately concerns over the slowness of the rebuild.
As most fans are aware, this organization, like the Celtics, is a cornerstone of the NBA. Historically, the Lakers are used to quickly reloading and contending. Five titles in 10 years was no accident.
But somewhere along the way (perhaps with the passing of Jerry Buss), things began to change. The new income redistribution rules which favor smaller market teams, has not helped. The Chris Paul trade denial by then Commissioner Sterns did not help.
But right now the team appears to be on its way back up. It still needs more good players-particularly defensive!
And I have a feeling that the new front office has the same goals in mind.
So, do we want to win games for the sake of pride right now? Hell no, we want that top-3 draft pick, and from a business sense, nothing else matters!
Please leave the political commentary for other venues. Thank you.
TankWatch 2017: Harden out versus Suns tonight. In response, the Suns players will play the game Drunk to ensure a loss.
Rick in Seattle says
Interesting story from rwo days ago, indicated that Chicago may be ready to trade Jimmy Butler. It was reported that prior to the trade deadline Boston had expressed interest in both Butler & P. George. Boston has a LOT of draft picks & other trade chips, so in this year’s loaded draft, its easy to see why Chicago would decide to reload with some good young players.
Problem is, Butler & George are also players that interest the Lakers! Lakers dont need to get into a bidding war with Boston. Play it smart, let Boston make the first move. Boston will probably overpay to get its choice.
George has already expressed his interest in the Lakers and he is a f/a in 2018, so Boston may now shift its interest toward Butler.
If Boston does go after George, Lakers can dangle their top-3 pick & other pieces and go after Butler. But Chicago must be aware that they will likely get a better return from Boston.
Either way, LAL have a decent shot at one of them. That should make Jeannie & Magic smile!
Boston decided that they liked the odds of getting Gordon Hayward via free agency and will keep their assets dry a bit longer.
Lakers adequately inspired first half–one point lead. Time to get back to business and beat the real rival in the land of the Sun.
We need that first round pick far more than a nearly meaningless win.
Have Luke discovered a player named Thomas Robinson?
Seems like we have a nice young teams for next season that shows right now it can play with playoff teams:
+ we’ve got Houston pick
For me top 3 pick will be a bonus, really. The future is bright as is.
The site sucks now. Really hard to post a comment. It’s not just the Lakers not garnering attention your site is not what is use to be. Study your traffic.
Darius Soriano says
Sorry you feel that way…actually, no I don’t. Haha. Bye.
I’ve been trying to post a comment for the past three weeks to no avail. Is there a posting issue?
Oh where to begin. Nance and Randle cannot coexist in the front court together. Clarkson and Russell cannot coexist in the backcourt together. Ingram is not a scoring threat. The Lakers cannot win close games since they do not have a “closer”. Thomas Robinson is too one dimensional to be useful. Ennis is too small and slow. Except that in spite of all of this the Lakers beat a team that they probably should have given the absence of Gasol. The problem with the wink, wink tank routine is that all of the above players are fighting for playing time on next year’s squad. I do not see them letting go of that willingly.
Way to blow the 2nd position. Unfreaking believable.
I get why people feel the way they do, but I am not overly concerned with trying to finesse the tank. Deng, Young, and Mozgov are sitting and Williams is gone. The guys left are either young draftees or guys trying to get a foothold in the NBA. Power to them if they win a couple.
It’s too late in the season for ego boosting.
Every game won now is simply a line cut to a key cog player in the draft.
The only thing that gives me hope is that the story about Booker being pulled for the remainder of the season was false.
I’m rooting for you kid,.. Go Booker !!
This link has a nice chart with lotto odds for all the teams:
Thanks for posting. Let’s hope we remain, at least tied,.. but it seems to me that Walton is not feeling the tank. Next season let us hope he doesn’t regret it, or worse, since we aren’t enjoying that multi million dollar salary,.. that we don’t.
Phoenix knows how. We don’t.
Get way behind at the getgo–then make it exciting–but not too exciting. Home crowd happy; NBA happy. Make sure not to get dangerously close.
Laugh and celebrate the Laker win.
As I’ve said before, regardless of whether or not we get those extra 8.9%, keeping the pick will depend on lottery luck more than any other factor. That’s how the math works in this case. According to the math, even the team with the worst record falls out of the top 3 more than 1 out of 3 times (which is quite remarkable if you think about it).
If we should really end up not getting the pick, there’s no way in the world to tell if different odds would have produced a different outcome.
The extra 8.9% do have a little value, but they are not the only thing that matters at this point.
I partly agree, but it’s not either/or.
It’s possible for our Lakers to lose strategically and continue developing our young core. We’re just not very good at it.
What else should we do, then? We already have the 3rd worst record, which means that 27 other teams managed to get more wins. And we already have shut down most of the veterans. But we can’t control what the Suns do.
Sabotaging games beyond what we’ve already done would only mess with the young players’ heads and create a neurotic culture. When you’re on the court (or coaching a game), you try to win. Whatever those 8.9% may be worth (and they might be worth nothing if the ping pong balls roll the wrong way), they don’t come for free.
A Horse With No Name says
You are 100% correct and show your understanding of statistics. In a single event, such as the lottery, the odds are high that any of the top three teams could drop out of these spots. ( I just hope it’s semi-rigged and the lakers get some extra pong balls!)
A few posts about the Celtics in this thread. While I dislike Boston, I must give credit to Danny Ainge and how he has constructed their rebuild. I only wish that Jim/Mitch had pursued assets (draft picks) the way Ainge has. Danny would trade his mom if he could get a first round pick for her.
To my recollection the Lakers only played the asset acquisition game well in acquiring a pick for taking on Lin’s contract and a second round pick for taking on Calderon. Letting Howard and Gasol walk for nothing when they were still very productive players were only the most notable examples letting value walk out the door for nothing. We tend to forget Earl Clark, Jodie Meeks, Ed Davis, Jordan Hill, Kent Bazemore, and Jordan Farmar were all free agents that signed with other teams and by doing so proved that they had some ‘value’ which even if they fetched a 2nd round pick would have been something more than nothing. But instead of being like Ainge and playing the long game Jim/Mitch were hell bent on keeping cap space for signing two elite free agents — who ended up being Mozgov and Deng.
Anon: True words and painful ones.
And yeah count me among the folks who are just fine with the Lakers keeping the top three pick this year AND the first round pick in 2019. It’s hard to imagine the young “core” would benefit enough by running the table the last five games of this season if that results in the loss of two first round picks over the next three seasons. Regarding the value of data collection if the young guns were to play well these last few games, well the FO has 77 regular seasons games worth of data already, and the strengths and weaknesses of the current players are, I think, already pretty clear. As far as what works is concerned: almost nothing. and what doesn’t work: almost everything.
What needs fixing? Also, almost everything.
Ainge’s biggest “move” was auctioning off their over the hill Championship team players to the stupidest Russian Oligarch on the block. The Lakers went down with their guy in Kobe. The Celtics offloaded their guys with relative ease and less fan backlash than the Lakers would have faced by trading Kobe.
One team cashed out Early or really, at the right time, and one team just kept building a lavish tomb for their Superstar legend. As a result, one team has cubic assets to show for their Stars and one team has 4 losing seasons and a few lottery picks.
From a team building standpoint its almost always better to trade a player too early than too late or not at all. When a team lets the home fire go out completely, they are stuck rubbing sticks together again from scratch instead of just lighting some new kindling with the last embers of the old flame.
From a marketing and pure fan perspective, trading Kobe would have been blasphemous. Its a double edged sword situation that the Lakers basically willfully fell on.
Phoenix is tanking in a more obvious fashion than even Philly did throughout those years. League needs to step in. Pathetic!