Okay, so the injury to Bynum was a blow to this squad, but let’s take a look at the team and discuss who we think the most improved player may be. For most people the answer is straight forward – it’s Andrew Bynum hands down. You may be right too, ‘Drew was certainly contributing more than ever before when he was in the game earlier this season. But his second half last year was less impressive and we have to see how he rebounds from the injury. Still I think it’s safe to say that his numbers are well up and he’s developed into an NBA center that has to be given consideration by opposing teams. He’s developed into a real option down low and his scoring and rebounds are both well up – his FG% is phenomenal at 0.636 and leads the league. Why not Bynum as my most improved Laker – I guess it’s because of the doubts on injury – the probable comeback behind Pau and the increased production coming in more minutes – still I’ll take that type of improvement every year please!
Next in most people’s estimations I’m guessing would be Jordan Farmar. The kid took it personal when we drafted a talented young point guard and went to work improving every aspect of his game. Added to that he now gets to see what veteran leadership is really about behind DFish. Like most I believe he’ll be ready to take the helm next year – or at least the vast majority of the minutes away from Fish. Jordan’s really been a pleasure to watch this year and we have big expectations. His scoring is over doubled what it was last year and his accuracy at both 2 and 3 have improved too. His PER is up to a respectable 15.9 and without a single start that’s not all bad, but I think his development is a gradual and smooth progression that will make him a good point guard in this league (without ever being a real star – hope I’m wrong J, please prove me wrong).
Finally could be Ronny Turiaf. His fantastic work ethic and unbelievable enthusiasm for every minute of a game have won over fans and coach alike. Ronny’s scoring is up from 5.3 to 6.8 – that’s a good improvement but of course he’s playing a few more minutes, particularly with Bynum out. I think Ronny is a terrific addition to the squad, but I doubt he will improve greatly beyond his current role – he’s all heart (ironically enough) and has improved his shot from outside, but he’ll always be a role player to inject energy.
No, my vote – whilst I agree all others have made big steps forward – is actually with Sasha Vujacic. As I type he’s putting in 10 first half points against the Heat, but this isn’t a snap reaction based on one game, Sasha has grown in confidence and is one of the deadliest shooters around right now. Add that he brings Ronny type energy to his ever improving defence and I think he’s made the biggest jump in playing ability. His FG % is up from .392 to .473 and his 3P% from .373 to .433 (good enough for 10th in the NBA). His PER this year is a staggering 16.6 – okay not staggering by KB standards but this is Sasha here. But for me it’s not about his numbers, it’s that he actually takes a load of the scoring pressure off the others like Lamar – particularly when Kobe is out of the game. His defensive ratings drop on some computer ratings this year, but I say he’s as pesky as ever and the fact he gets less steals is probably a good thing, he’s gambling less – particularly at key points in the game. Good news too is that I figure there’s a role for a shooter who works hard on any team – it’s only his 3rd year and Sasha is going to be a contributor for years on this young squad.
Before I get bashed by some on this Blog I consider it a real good thing when Bynum isn’t your most improved player and Farmar comes 3rd – even if it is in just one unprofessional opinion. All our guys have stepped up big – be careful this type of improvement is contagious – eh Lamar?
..with the sharpness..