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Old 08-02-2006, 02:25 PM   #1
Sound and Fury
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Default The State of the Lakers

It appears that most of the off-season maneuvering is done now... let's take a look at where the Lakers stand.

Kwame Brown - Showed last season he does his best work when playing center, not power forward. Plays fair defense, offense limited to "garbage plays" and getting "dump-off" passes when a teammate penetrates and draws his defender. Hopefully spent the season developing a reliable offensive move - preferably a 15-foot jumper, but a post-up move would be nice, too.

Kobe Bryant - The focal point of the Lakers' offense, able to get a shot anywhere on the floor. One of the most skilled players in the league, but showed not nearly enough interest in playing the shut-down defense on his man that he was playing in '01 and '02. Obviously will be the starting Shooting Guard, but hopefully the team has improved enough that he can take a lesser role in the offense and cut down on the number of bad shots he takes.

Andrew Bynum - I keep reading about how this kid is learning under Kareem and starting to master the skyhook. I expect we'll see him get more minutes this season than he did last season - and during his brief appearances last season, he showed some promise - yes, he was often lost and in awe of being on the court, but he seems to have good shot-blocking instincts. Due to lack of exposure, though, the jury is still very much out, and if he does much more than fill in for 10 minutes per game, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Brian Cook - He is what he is - a slow-footed, sweet-shooting NBA small forward who often has to slide to power forward in the Laker system. He's not going to "get dirty" and bang inside if he can avoid it. His shooting touch means he can score off the bench if others create shots for him, but he's strictly a bench role-player.

Maurice Evans - A very nice draft-day pickup who provides athleticism, defensive intensity, and some scoring. Will probably be asked to back up a couple of spots, and should be easily in the regular rotation this season. Reminds me a lot of the 2002 version of Devean George, minus the rebounding and plus some quickness and defense - he'll come into the game, hit a few shots, play some defense, but not try to take over all by himself. An excellent bench player - there's a reason he and McDyess were the only non-starters in the Pistons' regular rotation.

Jordan Farmar - Heady player, reminds of a young Derek Fisher. Not nearly ready to play at the NBA level yet, though... needs to develop an outside shot, but barring another acquisition at point guard, should be the Lakers' starter two years from now, supplanting the incumbent Parker.

Aaron McKie - Looks used up, and his "cagey defense" role can be played better by Maurice Evans. His only real value to the team now is as a steadying veteran influence in the locker room - and as an expiring contract that can be traded.

Chris Mihm - A good shot-blocker, but very foul-prone. Has something of an offensive post game (though it's limited to jump hooks), but individual defense somewhat lacking. His strengths seem to be Kwame's weaknesses and vice versa - you play Chris if you need post offense and weak-side blocked shots while the other team's post player is not an offensive threat... and Kwame if you can live without post offense or if the other team's post player is an offensive threat. He's not as bad as most people outside of LA think - and not as good as most Lakers fans think. He's a serviceable center, but since he and Kwame can't be effective on the floor at the same time, one of them has to go - as an expiring contract, it's probably Mihm.

Lamar Odom - Obviously the "second option" for the Lakers, and that may be a problem - he doesn't seem to be assertive enough, especially when Kobe's on the bench and Lamar should be the nominal leader of the team. An outstanding rebounder, and seems to be more effective when playing power forward than small forward (he can be outmuscled when trying to defend power post players, but has the quicks to burn such players on the other end). Odom may have the "natural game" of a SF, but he's not quite as quick as most SFs and a good rebounder, so I think you have to slot him as a PF. Also needs to cut down on - or improve his ability to shoot - three-pointers - he's only reliable when he's "set" and getting a kick-out pass from a teammate.

Smush Parker - Was much-maligned after Nash abused him in the playoffs, but Smush's problem is simply that he's a shooting guard in a point guard's body. Assuming he gets his confidence back and doesn't worry about his offense, he can be effective defensively most nights harassing the opposing point guard and should be able to get some points slashing to the basket and hitting threes generated by teammates. He really needs to take a "Derek Fisher"/"B.J. Armstrong" role in the triangle - understand that while he's a point guard in name, the offense flows through Kobe and Lamar and he's there to provide defense and get open if his man goes to help. He has the tools to do these things, but whether or not he accepts that is another story. Smush, like Mihm, isn't as bad as non-Laker fans think, but he's not as good as Laker fans think he is. It wouldn't hurt him to add a mid-range jumper to his arsenal as well.

J.R. Pinnock - No idea about this guy; never seen him play. Anyone else have an idea?

Vladimir Radmanovic - I'm not entirely sure I'm on board with this signing - Radmanovic has never shown an interest in defense, and his offense seems a lot like Smush Parker's - he can dunk, and he can hit threes if his teammates suck in the defense and kick the ball back out, but doesn't have much game in between the dunk and three, and is not a very good rebounder for a 6-foot-10 guy. I love him as an option off the bench, but he's a low-grade starter. Regardless of who starts, I expect he'll split time with Luke Walton at the "three" spot, and when Vladimir is hot, he'll get more minutes - when he's not, Luke will.

Ronny Turiaf - The polar opposite of Brian Cook - can't shoot worth a lick from the outside, but a banger and high-energy player who doesn't mind mixing it up inside. His limited game means he'll be coming off the bench, and I'm sure Phil would prefer to use him only when matchups dictate. He's a poor man's Kurt Rambis in terms of skill but with a little more athleticism. He'll probably get minutes against teams like the Heat that feature dual bruisers inside, but against teams with a finesse 4, expect to see Brian Cook (for his shooting) instead.

Sasha Vujacic - Starting to establish a reputation as a "defensive pest" and has a decent three-point shot. I know Phil likes his size, too. I think Phil wants to keep him around as a backup PG for now, and would prefer to unload Smush Parker and let Farmar start with Vujacic backing him up once Farmar is ready. Not this year, though. Sasha seems to be the Lakers' "backup PG" of the future.

Von Wafer - Injuries kept him out of nearly all of last season; seems like a decent athlete, but with Evans on board, not likely to see much time. Only value would be his contract in helping match salaries should the Lakers need to include him as a throw-in in a trade.

Luke Walton - His individual defense is very shaky, but as a team defender, he always seems to be in the right place at the right time to get a steal, rebound, deflection, harass a shot, etc. A terrific passer, and will battle inside even if he is undersized - which probably gets him ahead of Brian Cook in the rotation. His big issue is learning when to look for his own shot - sometimes too unselfish for his own good. Not sure he would look as good in any other offense but the triangle, but he is a very heady player and I think the Lakers can live with his lack of quickness individually for all the other things he brings to the table. Due to Vladimir Radmanovic "looking" more like and NBA player, I figure Radmanovic will probably start, but Luke will suck up a lot of minutes at the SF spot, almost by necessity, especially when Vladimir isn't having a good shooting night. Honestly, I'd start Luke ahead of Vladimir based on what I saw last season if the Lakers had a better offensive option than Kwame at C or Smush at PG. However, given that Kobe and Lamar need a third scoring option, I think Vladimir has to go into the starting rotation until the Lakers upgrade C or PG, at which point Luke is a better fit.

Shammond Williams - No idea why the Lakers felt they needed to carry five point guards (Farmar, McKie, Vujacic, Parker, Williams), and this guy just ain't that good. Don't expect to see him except in the final minutes of 30-point blowouts.

Projected Starters:

C - Kwame Brown
PF - Lamar Odom
SF - Vladimir Radmanovic
SG - Kobe Bryant
PG - Smush Parker

Bench players in the rotation:

C - Chris Mihm (until he is traded), Andrew Bynum
PF - Ronny Turiaf / Brian Cook (depends on matchups)
SF - Luke Walton
SG - Maurice Evans
PG - Maurice Evans (I expect him to back up both guard spots, since I'm sure Jackson wants to keep Walton in the rotation).

The starting lineup should have just enough firepower to match up with most teams, though the bench worries me - Evans and Cook will probably be the designated scorers off the bench, but I don't see Mihm getting the same touches he got as a starter, meaning bench scoring on days when Turiaf is needed for matchup purposes instead of Cook will be hard to come by. In addition, the Lakers will be prone to getting torched by opposing SFs, as neither Radmanovic nor Walton is a stellar one-on-one defender.

The needs for the Lakers remain largely the same as they were entering the off-season: they need to upgrade their starting point guard, and would like to get an upgrade at center or forward - moreover, the upgrade would preferably be a scorer. The pieces that are attractive to other teams remain the same: Odom, Bynum, and expiring contracts (Mihm/Parker/McKie and I believe Cook). Since it is unlikely that the Lakers will move Odom or Bynum except for a major upgrade, an incremental upgrade at PG or C will have to be accomplished by trading expiring contracts - which limits what you're going to be able to get in return.

It should be noted here that the signing of Radmanovic to a multi-year deal signals the end of the Lakers' "we're trying to clear cap space in 07 or 08 to make a run at a marquee free agent" phase - it was a pipe dream to begin with, and management finally seems to have caught on to that... with the Radmanovic signing, the Lakers won't be significantly under the cap those seasons, which means I believe they will now be willing to add long-term salary, where they weren't before (and it really hurt them).

So where should the Lakers go from here? I'm not sure - I don't know that it makes sense now to trade for Al Harrington (or Darius Miles) - you'd just create a logjam at SF (either by playing Harrington/Miles at SF or shifting Odom down to SF so Harrington/Miles could play PF)... and there just don't seem to be a lot of upgrades available at center (you already have a logjam at PG). IMO, the key to this season is whether you see a jump in the games of Kwame and/or Bynum... that's the only place where (a) I think a jump can happen and (b) it would be a pleasant surprise.

But what do the rest of you Lakers fans think?
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Old 08-02-2006, 02:37 PM   #2
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I don't know what to say other than I disagree with most of your assessements. To generalize though, the Lakers had no problems scoring last year, the problem was defense. To that end they've improved by adding Evans, Shammond and yes, even Vlad Rad who while not a lock-down individual defender, does play good team defense (better than Cook for sure). With Kwame emerging as one of the best low-post defenders in the game, I think the addition of Evans and Williams will greatly improve their defensive stats and easily get them back into the playoffs and advance into the 2nd or 3rd round.

BTW, Von Wafer is already gone, he has no contract for this year and certainly earned nothing during summer league play so there's no way the Lakers are picking up the team option on his 2nd year. If the Lakers dump Sasha or McKie (both should go) they'd be wise to sign Devin Green and/or Pinnock as they're both much better guards than the aforementioned cut-worthy candidates.
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Old 08-02-2006, 04:20 PM   #3
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George is gone leaving only that Pinnock guy
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Old 08-02-2006, 05:39 PM   #4
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Old 08-02-2006, 06:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobe4MVP
I don't know what to say other than I disagree with most of your assessements. To generalize though, the Lakers had no problems scoring last year, the problem was defense. To that end they've improved by adding Evans, Shammond and yes, even Vlad Rad who while not a lock-down individual defender, does play good team defense (better than Cook for sure). With Kwame emerging as one of the best low-post defenders in the game, I think the addition of Evans and Williams will greatly improve their defensive stats and easily get them back into the playoffs and advance into the 2nd or 3rd round.

BTW, Von Wafer is already gone, he has no contract for this year and certainly earned nothing during summer league play so there's no way the Lakers are picking up the team option on his 2nd year. If the Lakers dump Sasha or McKie (both should go) they'd be wise to sign Devin Green and/or Pinnock as they're both much better guards than the aforementioned cut-worthy candidates.

Defense wasnt much of a problem the problem was trying to get Guys like Lamar and Kwame become more aggressive and grasp the triangle.

Also, Von Wafer has 1 more year on his contract with us. Which is a retarded mistake because we should have had green from the beginning and we should Keep Pinnock for his all around jump shooting game. I hear he is athletic too.
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Old 08-02-2006, 07:53 PM   #6
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Von Wafer doesn't have a guaranteed contract, it's a team option, and there's no way they'll pick it up.

As for offense vs. defense, we were 7TH!! in the league for offense last year at 99.5ppg, but were 15th in points allowed at 97ppg. We shot well at 45% but allowed our opposition to shoot the same percentage against us. Now that we have Vladrad as a solid 2nd or 3rd scoring option, the big change that needs to happen is team defense, and I think the players that Mitch has brought in thus far has addressed that (defensive PG in Williams and defensive 2/3 in Evans to replace D.George). Kwame does an excellent job on defending the block, and Odom can supply the weakside help down low if he's not getting pushed around by someone, and Bynum showed this summer that he wants to swat everything near the rim, so down low we're OK (not perfect, but OK). If we can release Sasha and Mickie and sign Green and Pinnock, we'll have an excellent (albeit inexperienced) and deep athletic backcourt. Green is the next Tayshawn Prince and Pinnock is a monster athlete, there's no question both are upgrades over McKVujacic, it just means eating about 3.4 mil. in released salary, but both those replacement guys would sign for 2nd round money or less.

Last edited by insidehoops : 12-21-2006 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 08-02-2006, 08:04 PM   #7
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That's interesting. you're really high on Green & Pinnock. I hope you are right. That was high praise for Green in comparing him to Prince.

Last edited by insidehoops : 12-21-2006 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 08-02-2006, 08:35 PM   #8
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Yeah, well I mean I see that as his ultimate potential. He has the same build and lot of the same skills as Prince, and he has the brains to back it up so that means he has a chance of getting there - he's already improved an insane amount since last summer league but he'll have to continue to improve and try to acheive some consistency first, but I'd definitely take Green over Sasha any day. I haven't seen much of Pinnock, but he also showed flashes of the ability to be a great defender, and he can jump out of the building. We certainly don't have McKie for his offense (did you see any of the jumpshots he tried to take last year?) and his legs are shot so his once decent D has left him. He does provide some leadership, but if you can't be on the floor with the players then the leadership isn't worth the roster spot and you're better off developing a guy who isn't constantly on crutches. Pinnock is a good project, but he's more likely to play a full season in the D-League or europe unless the Lakers really do open up 2 or more roster spots somehow. I think they'll hang onto his rights for sure though, if he does makes the roster then I'm all the more impressed.

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Old 08-02-2006, 09:34 PM   #9
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how tall is Green? is he more of a 2 or 3?
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Old 08-02-2006, 10:09 PM   #10
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6'7" - a little taller than Kobe, a little shorter than Devean George. Your basic tweener, a little smaller than Tayshaun but their games are very similar.
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Old 08-02-2006, 10:13 PM   #11
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let's say Green made the team. do you see him playing more 2 or 3? playing with or behind Kobe?
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Old 08-02-2006, 10:29 PM   #12
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Interesting about Pinnock... he was ok in the SPL, but he was not fantastic. He was, in my opnion, on the upper echelon, but still not NBA caliber. I do rank him above wafer and definitely below green. I would not waste a roster spot on him to be honest.
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Old 08-03-2006, 02:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bleedinpurple
let's say Green made the team. do you see him playing more 2 or 3? playing with or behind Kobe?

Probably more at the 3, and since Kobe pretty much plays the whole game he'd play both with and without him. As I recall Rambis making some comments about Green's position after one of the SPL games... ah here it is:

"He's coming along," Rambis said. "He is a tweener in regard to being a guard and a forward. But he has the potential to be a nice off-guard for us. But his skills are more suited for the small forward."

What's weird is that he appears to be more slight-of-frame like Tayshaun, but his listed weight is the same as D.George, so something is off there.

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Old 08-03-2006, 02:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by SoCalMike
Interesting about Pinnock... he was ok in the SPL, but he was not fantastic. He was, in my opnion, on the upper echelon, but still not NBA caliber. I do rank him above wafer and definitely below green. I would not waste a roster spot on him to be honest.

Are u kidding me?

noone has heard of this guy. I think he can be a steal. He came out contributing right away and he can shoot the J really well why wouldt u want him?
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