This will become a blog. For now, I just wanted to get the stats posted:
LA Lakers Season Prospectus
Tuesday marks the tipoff of a season that sees the Lakers eyeing greatness. A trip to the NBA Finals seems almost a foregone conclusion. Another championship banner would be no surprise. Now is the time, however, for some prognostication or some projections, depending upon your preference. What follows is a list of players, divided into three tiers, featuring stat projections and notes about player development.
THE STARTING FIVE
Derek Fisher – Point Guard
Fisher was a rock of stability for the Lakers during last season's Western Conference Championship. He continues to offset his age and mileage with dedication to fitness, all out effort, and clutch shooting. This season will mark the preliminaries of the passing of the torch, however, for Fisher. There is every indication that by season's end Jordan Farmar will see even minutes and will be penciled in as the Point Guard going forward. But don't count out Fisher just yet. He is poised for another strong season.
2007/08 Projections: 10.3 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 11.7 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.1 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 77 games, 26.8 mpg, 10.7 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.3 rpg
Kobe Bryant – Shooting Guard
Kobe is at something of a crossroad in his career. It's not as if he's an aging vet who will have to do the little things to contribute though. It's more a case of finding something to do with himself during the time that other players are abusing defenders. This is not a luxury Kobe has had recently. Look for increased effort on defense and on the glass to make up for time lost handling the ball. Kobe's all-around game could be the best of his career and there is an outside shot that he challenges for DPOY.
2007/08 Projections: 29.8 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.7 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 28.3 ppg, 5.4 apg, 6.3 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 77 games, 38.7 mpg, 26.5 ppg, 5.2 apg, 5.9 rpg
Vladimir Radmanovic – Small Forward
In a surprising move, Phil Jackson penciled in Vlad at the starting SF spot. In a more surprising move, Vlad has responded. If he continues to play an intelligent game, shoots well, and gives the kind of defensive effort he has during preseason, Vlad will be a great fit. His shooting will provide the spacing necessary for the Laker bigs to dominate opposing front courts.
2007/08 Projections: 6.8 ppg, 1.2 apg, 3.1 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 8.4 ppg, 1.9 apg, 3.3 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 63 games, 26.1 mpg, 9.9 ppg, 2.2 apg, 4.1 rpg
Pau Gasol – Power Forward
Gasol was perhaps the biggest difference-maker for the Lakers as they stormed into the playoffs last season. Then his softness was exposed during the playoffs. Perhaps too much was asked of him. Fortunately, Andrew Bynum's presence makes things infinitely easier for Pau. He can extend his offensive game, not worry about anchoring the defense, and be a strong, opportunistic shot blocker, a role he thrives in.
2007/08: No projections
2008/09 Projections: 68 games, 33.8 mpg, 18.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 7.4 rpg
Andrew Bynum – Center
Bynum is back and his return makes the Lakers better than they have been in quite some time. A defensive force, a powerful low post scoring option and rebounder, Bynum will continue to improve and will be mentioned among the league's elite by season's end. He will benefit immensely from Gasol's presence, as he goes to work in a small area close to the hoop and patrols the paint on D.
2007/08 Projections: 10.8 ppg, 1.6 apg, 81. rpg
2007/08 Actual: 13.1 ppg, 1.7 apg, 10.2 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 58 games, 29.7 mpg, 13.4 ppg, 1.8 apg, 9.8 rpg
THE SECOND UNIT
Jordan Farmar – Point Guard
Jordan Farmar could be the most improved Laker. He has taken his scoring ability to a new level, featuring a fearless attitude, excellent athleticism, and a solid shooting ability that will allow him to put up points in bunches. At the same time, his risky play style will stand in stark contrast to Fisher's and Farmar will rack up turnovers as a result until he finds a happy middle ground. Look for improved defensive effort to be the key to putting him into the game at key points, including closing out games, as he becomes "the man" at the PG spot.
2007/08 Projections: 6.2 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.1 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 9.1 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 79 games, 22.7 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.6 rpg
Sasha Vujacic – Shooting Guard
While Farmar will shine, Sasha may frustrate fans as much as he has frustrated the likes of Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and the whole Spurs team. A feisty player, Vujacic was rewarded with a sizeable contract and proceeded to squander the offseason. Significant strides in terms of musculature in previous seasons became a simple gain of body fat. An ankle injury erased a shot at proving himself during preseason. He will still hit shots, but the risk of complacency looms.
2007/08 Projections: 4.5 ppg, 0.9 apg, 1.5 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 8.8 ppg, 1.0 apg, 2.1 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 75 games, 18.1 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 1.1 apg, 2.2 rpg
Trevor Ariza – Small Forward
It looked as if Ariza would crack the starting lineup. Perhaps his lack of three-point shooting kept him out of that role, but it seems as if he will play a sizeable chunk of minutes for the Lakers this season. His defense, developing offensive prowess, and hustle make him a good fit for key stretches against opposing wing scorers.
2007/2008: No projections.
2008/09 Projections: 49 games, 19 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 1.5 apg, 3.6 rpg
Lamar Odom – Power Forward
A long-time starter, an Olympian, a proficient triple-doubler, a near all-star? Odom is all of these things, but he is now a sixth man in addition. Odom will probably be first off the bench for the 2, 3, and 4 slots. He will notch heavy minutes and has looked good in preseason in the role Phil Jackson has asked him to fill.
2007/08 Projections: 16.7 ppg, 4.9 apg, 10.1 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 14.2 ppg, 3.6 apg, 10.6 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 67 games, 27 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 3.0 apg, 7.0 rpg
Chris Mihm – Center
It is unclear what Chris Mihm has to offer. He was once a serviceable starter at the Center spot. He was also someone who had no business being in uniform for a team in the NBA. While Mihm is no doubt currently somewhere between those extremes, the hope is that he is much closer to the former. Given good fortune, Mihm should be the lead backup Center. His offensive game is solid, he can block shots, but he is not much of a defender.
2007/08 Projections: 7.7 ppg, 0.5 apg, 5.0 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 3.6 ppg, 0.6 apg, 3.4 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 37 games, 12.5 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 0.6 apg, 3.4 rpg
Sun Yue – Guard / Forward
Yue is the least talented Laker, the least NBA-ready, and is playing behind several very talented players. In short, he will find little playing time this season. And that is probably for the better. It seems as if he will require a good deal of time to adjust to the NBA game.
2007/08: No projections.
2008/09 Projections: 32 games, 7.0 mpg, 0.9 ppg, 0.3 apg, 0.5 rpg
Luke Walton – Forward
Walton will find himself playing both Forward spots, in all likelihood. Given that all of the principal Forwards have injury histories (Walton included), and given his familiarity with the triangle offense, he will see solid minutes. He will respond with solid all-around numbers and good trap defense even if he provides sketchy man-to-man defense and idiosyncratic decision-making.
2007/08 Projections: 8.0 ppg, 3.9 apg, 4.0 rpg
2007/08 Actual: 7.2 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.9 rpg
2008/09 Projections: 67 games, 21.3 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.5 rpg
Josh Powell – Power Forward
The only real addition to this team from last season, Powell should find minutes because he has a thick, properly powerful build for a Power Forward. Powell is an adequate defender, a solid rebounder, who will be counted upon to fill the Ronny Turiaf role. He should be successful in that endeavor.
2007/08: No Projections.
2008/09 Projections: 58 games, 15.2 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 0.5 apg, 3.8 rpg
DJ Mbenga – Center
Very athletic, very raw, Mbenga made significant strides as a player last season. Look for high energy, offensive work primarily right around the basket, and defensive effort including hustle up and down the court.
2007/08: No Projections.
2008/09 Projections: 51 games, 7.6 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 0.2 apg, 1.6 rpg