Chris Kaman: Position: C Height: 7’0” Weight: 265 Age: 31 Contract: $3,000,000 (’13-14) Nickname: Caveman Years With Team: 0 Years With League: 10 Previous Teams: L.A. Clippers, New Orleans, Dallas Acquired: Free Agent '13
Kaman is a skilled offensive center, and one who really likes to dominate the ball, as he has the fifth highest usage rate among centers; this is in line with his usage rates since four years ago. He has many moves in the 7-20 foot space, particularly excelling in stepping out for money long range jumpers, as well as really finishing on the few layups he attempts. Working in the mid-range, Kaman also has passing skill; this year, he's in the upper third of centers, corroborating a similar rate two years ago after one year of non-passing. However, he too often exploits his high usage by resorting to less efficient shots that he creates for himself, such as his short mid-range jumpers and in particular, very inefficient hook shots. And as seen throughout his career, he has a tendency to force passes or lose the ball with his off-dribble shenanigans, with a turnover rate in the bottom third of centers.The ability to pass and create shots from no man's land gives Kaman a unique wrinkle few big men boast, but the truth is that Kaman could be more efficient as a sheer spot-up long ranger and finisher off set ups, as it would also be minimize his turnovers. Still, based on his career work, it's extremely doubtful that Kaman can adapt to the low usage, spot-up style that his game might fit better in, because he likes to massage the ball in his hands and diversify, even if it deviates from his greater strengths. His style of play does not have a history of making the team better, which is why the Lakers are nearly five points worse offensively with him on the court. He still has a ton of skill, even for his age, but his history of overextending his boundaries and not recognizing it has worn out his welcome for many teams.
As mentioned, on offense, Kaman likes to eke out shots is from the spot-up inclined mid-range (6th among centers in attempts), and from a steady diet of self-created hook shots (10th). Over half of his shots come from mid-range; his mid-range game has always been excellent career-wise, and this season has been no different (8th in conversion). Kaman likes to start off on long spot-up mid-range jumpers, which he is absolutely elite at converting (51%), but two-thirds of his mid-range attempts actually involve him sizing up his opponent and making moves into short mid-rangers. Here, he's still decent (37.8%) but just not as good as he is from long range, which was also the same case last year. As for the hooks? Not reliable. Only 12 centers shoot worse in this area.
Kaman plays this way on offense because he's extremely unathletic. At age 31, never had much to begin with, but it's dwindling from there. Only nine centers have lesser rates in both dunk rate (2.6%) and layup attempts (a fifth of his shots). The layups are a major shame: the guy is leading all centers in layup percentage, and he's very skilled at converting these shots off passes. It's just very rare that he puts himself in that position. In addition, he's a non-presence on the o-boards (52 of 62 centers) and only nine centers generate fewer tip-ins. Essentially, Kaman does not take shots around the rim, and hasn't been able to draw fouls well since six years ago (although he's improved somewhat this season here, compared to the past three years).
On defense, surprisingly, he's been more adept than in prior seasons. In a sea of awful rebounding bigs on the Lakers, Kaman stands out greatly by defensive rebounding near the top fifth of all centers. He's been surprisingly good at contesting shots this season, and in particular, he's in the top third of centers in shotblocking. Assuming he can continue that, this makes it three of the past four seasons where he'll be in the top third, an interesting wrinkle given his short wingspan and lack of verticality. Perhaps most importantly, the Lakers have been nearly six points better defensively with him on the floor, so his ability to rotate in team defense has been surprisingly adept.
As for cons? Awful man defense. His brand of defense is extremely foul prone, as he often hacks opposing centers and gives them easy points by sending them to the line. And his rebounding comes with a caveat: even while his numbers are decent, still, the opposing center outrebounds him by 1.4, and in general put up good scoring and rebounding numbers. Kaman is also in the bottom third of centers in steal rate.
Kaman's a mixture of highs and lows on both ends of the court, but you can see glimpses of skill-based talent on offense that few players of his size possess, and that in conjunction with good enough defensive metrics in some areas makes him an interesting proposition. The ideal Kaman would be a spot-up offensive player who can pass, hit long mid-rangers and cut off ball for layups, while on defense he brings the defensive rebounding, shotblocking, ability to contest shots and play team defense. That's a very reasonable player in a vacuum, easily, and few could combine so many attributes, and offense and defense in that manner. He's really worked around limited athleticism with extreme skill on offense, and makes more use of his height and toughness on defense than one would expect. People tend to remember him for his limitations however--he's noticeably unathletic and barely even plays at the rim on offense, and on defense he gets overwhelmed man-to-man and has to resort to hacking. And then there's the supposed lack of recognition or intelligence on offense--he oversteps his spot-up bounds by dribbling himself into lower percentage shots for him, which also yield turnovers; because they are done in high usage, they really adversely the team's overall offense. Personality-wise, he's refreshingly candid and a truth-teller, but sometimes he reveals too much and can be abrasive and flaky. The biggest problem is that while he has a fairly large canvas on offense and surprisingly, even on defense, they don't offset the fact that his weaknesses usually override those strengths and adversely affect the team's bottom line, on both offense and defense (which could deviate back to a poor mean). He's one of the more interesting conundrums, and player prototypes, in the league for that reason, and explains why he has been a journeyman ever since leaving the Clippers.
Kaman's numbers look superficially good at first glance, but everything is smoke and mirrors here. Yes, he can score--he ranked 6th out of 54th centers in scoring rate--but he scores at the expense of almost everything else. Kaman's scoring is even horrid because he's so reminiscent of Michael Doleac--he has no at-rim game--he's 49th out of 54 centers in taking shots directly at the rim, 51st at drawing fouls, 40th at offensive rebound rate. Not to mention he's woefully unathletic--only five centers dunk less than he does when they see the rim. He doesn't pass the ball well either--42nd in assist rate. All he does on offense well is knowing how to get open (5th in usage rate) and hit jumpers--in fact, among centers, he's fourth best. He takes a lot from no-man's land (10-15 ft) and also long mid-range J's, and while not bad from 10-15, he really, really excels at the long mid-range J's (4th among 54 centers). But with zero inside game, which is by far the easiest way to generate points, and therefore zero foul drawing, he isn't very efficient even shooting 50% from the field. The mid-range J is by far the worst shot of the game. If he had some passing, maybe he could help a few matters...but he has none. By hogging the ball so much with average efficiency and no passing, it's no wonder that he could possibly be making teams worse on offense. Just subliminally (like the "Jason Kapono" effect--we call it mid-range destruction).
Kaman's just awful on defense--he's subpar in contesting shots. He got overpowered at the rim frequently last year--he was 14th of 16th players in Dallas last year in contesting shots directly at the rim but relatively average everywhere else, with zero areas with any potential whatsoever. In addition, he has rapidly lost his superficial shotblocking ability along with much of his athleticism, and you'd think with he'd realize it and start attempting to draw charges, which he doesn't do at all--as a result, he's 36th among 54 centers in defensive plays, subpar. He's an average defensive rebounder, but overall a poor rebounder, and he's one of 34 NBA players to have no athleticism and no defense, which really isn't a good place to be. Rick Carlisle had a lot of players who put up superficial numbers in his Dallas team last year, but as smart coach, he realized it and cut back a lot of their minutes--Kaman was one of them, as he only played 20 minutes a game.
Injuries are also a major concern--he's missed 86 games over the past three seasons, which clearly has had an effect in his rapidly declining athleticism--he has virtually zero athletic markers, with declining at-rim game, shotblocking, defensive playmaking, and free throw rates. With no defense he's pretty much became a high usage mid-range jumpshooting specialist, but with zero passing and no at-rim game he's had a poor net effect offensively as well. It's hard to believe he'd be useful in any capacity because he has a poor effect offensively and a horrendous effect defensively. He's very reminiscent of Michael Doleac. On top of all the injuries, one wonders if he's even worth a roster spot, even if it's only a one-year deal. As with Antawn Jamison, at the end of the day, it's about the talent level, even if the money comes cheap.
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We will be. Kobe will be giving him a ton of death glares for his inability to play defense this season.
Also, this is the worst possible signing. I value roster spots, and considering other players who went for mini mid-level type money (Mike Dunleavy, Dorell Wright, Carlos Delfino) this was an awful move. All three of those guys are way better than Kaman.
We already know that Kaman's individual game is awful. He's just a bunch of empty numbers. Ask any Maverick fan from last year, and they would vouch for my scouting report. But it goes beyond that--
Does he even fit the team? Yes, we need a center. But this is completely the wrong sort of center. We don't need any more floor spacing, soft, no defense types. Pau already brings floor spacing, and we need someone who's willing to protect him and bring the toughness and defense that will be missing with Dwight gone. Yeah, free agency is kind of weak in those areas, but I would have preferred Samuel Dalembert. Even Brandan Wright. Ivan Johnson. An enforcer type. Now with Nash and Kaman are the floor, we have two major weak links--one in the back, one in the front. Not even Iggy can save that.
The worst thing is that I sense the front office is completely catering to Mike D'Antoni's desire for soft shooters, because he's obsessed with spacing the floor in his junk offense. I liked Ryan Kelly a lot, but something tells me that they drafted him primarily because of his fit to D'Antoni's offense, rather than his talent level. And then look at the summer league roster--all those guys we have so far are shooters. Marcus Landry and Drew Viney do nothing else except snipe from three. Michael Snaer, Kenny Boynton are three point bombers as well. And now we can a mid-range specialist who does ABSOLUTELY nothing else well in Kaman. These are the sort of moves that sink teams. Skills in duplicate, at the expense of other attributes.
Yeah, I know this is only a one-year thing and everyone's gone, but the front office still remains, so if they screw up their cap space to get D'Antoni friendly players in the summer of 2014, this will all be for naught. D'Antoni's philosophy is outdated, overrated and has no place in the league. We need a grizzled defensive-minded coach and a GM who's actually up to date with how players are performing the past few years, rather than going for "name" players. I feel we don't have those, and that might hamper the franchise for a while.
The only consolation I see is that we weren't winning a championship this season anyway, so oh well. Plus, Kobe won't be back until December most likely, so there's a month or so he won't be giving Kaman glares. Beyond this year though, I agree, hoping 'Antoni will not be here, and we will not be going after his type of players. Our scouting and drafting needs to get better, at least for the one we have picks for, the 2014 draft.
Updated Jordan Farmar's scouting report. Don't read--it's largely scathing, kind of like Chris Kaman.
As an aside, I really don't get the point of signing Jordan Farmar other than for the nostalgia. He exacerbates our weaknesses and just replicates what our PGs already do. The only thing I have some faith in what Farmar can do is three point shooting--it's not a strong faith, but some faith, but the problem is that Nash and Blake can already shoot the deep ball (I'm assuming Morris is gone, by the way, since he's another three point shooter and there's no way we keep four point guards in our roster--which is a dumb move, because Morris can at least D up more reliably than Farmar can, and is five years younger--we should be trending towards youth since we're not playing for the championship this year).
The other thing is that Farmar, just like he did during parts of his Laker tenure, makes most fans want to pull their hair out. He's an awful decision maker and doesn't appear to be a natural PG, and as mentioned the defense is subpar. I wonder if the Lakers really did their skill set research with Farmar, especially having known him for such a long time.
Oh well, for a one-year deal, minimum, it's hard to complain. But our team this year might be awful, and worse than expected. We're getting a bunch of jumpshooters who can't play defense. It's D'Antoni's junk style all over again. Hopefully there's a radical change in philosophy after this season, but we're already getting a glimpse of the front office's preferences post-Jerry, and it's looking quite awful from my vantage point.
Updated summer league profiles. Quite extensive. Check first post for more.
By the way, summer league rankings. Yes, I don't like Rob Sacre at all:
My rankings of players in our summer league (pre-games): 1) Ryan Kelly (out with injury) 2) Lester Hudson 3) Elias Harris 4) Souleyman Diabate 5) Ian Hummer 6) Chris Douglas-Roberts 7) Michael Snaer 8) Marcus Landry 9) Drew Viney 10) Robert Sacre 11) DJ Seeley 12) Jordan Williams 13) Lazar Hayward 14) Mitchell Watt 15) Josh Selby 16) Kenny Boynton 17) Travis Hyman 18) Renaldo Woolridge
OMG have not seen much of Kaman past several years. Had no idea he sucked donkey balls like this. Yikes. Dan effect in force with even our limited signings. That guy HAS to be gone and NOT be a factor in how we spend and draft for 2014.
He attempts to approximate the threes-D thing that's en vogue in the league, but doesn't do it well enough. He's more of a good jumpshooter than great jumpshooter, which is OK, and while he had a defensive rep in college, I think he lacks the athleticism, reflexes, height and strength to make a difference in the NBA level. He has weaknesses everywhere else, but so long as he plays within the 3's-D niche he might have a sliver of a chance, although I was not convinced of his college resume at all. He reminds me a bit of how DeShawn Stevenson turned out, or a poor man's Raja Bell, and that's really the (limited) upside has.
Nick Young: Position: SG Height: 6’7” Weight: 210 Age: 28 Contract: $1,352,181 ('13-'14) Nickname: N/A Years With Team: 0 Years With League: 5 Previous Teams: Washington, L.A. Clippers, Philadelphia Acquired: Free Agent '13
Young's offensive legend has largely been due to his ability to create a ton of mid-range shots while minimizing turnovers, with long mid-range J's (6th out of 62 SGs) and short mid-range J's (14th) being his primary zones. He's had usage rates as high as 6th-13th among SGs, and this past season he was 4th best in turnover rate. Historically, Young has a history of hitting mid-range J's well, even off the dribble, although his track record for hitting short mid-range J's is more spotty. In fact, since his first two seasons, Young hasn't been able to shoot BOTH short and long mid-range shots at a good rate: for example, the three seasons prior to Philly he shot long mid-rangers well, but shot short mid-rangers at a poor to awful rate, then at Philly he shot short mid-rangers very well, but long mid-range J's quite poorly.
However, even though mid-range binging is one of the worst attributes an offensive player can possibly have, there's a lot of subtle aspects about Young that enhance his offensive profile significantly. Careerwise, while he's never ventured much within 10 feet of the rim (52nd of 62 SGs at-rim, 54th in runners), he has some ability to get to the line considering how little he slashes (44th), and he's also surprisingly springy, dunking on 19.4% of his attempts when he sees the rim, so he has definite athletic qualities to his offensive game. In addition, his offensive game still has potential for growth: having done them in separate seasons, there's a chance he could shoot well on short and long mid-range J's simultaneously in a single season, and another subtle development is that Young has started shifting some of his long two's in favor of threes over the past 1.5 years. As of late he's only been average to slightly above average here, but again, the key word is growth: Young had two seasons shooting above 40% from deep early in his career, and his free throw shooting has always been around 80-86% in the league, so again, there's potential. And there's also increased acceptance of the team concept: Young had ranked in 61st out of 62nd SGs in assist rate in the three years before Philly. But, in Philly, there were a lot of signs he adjusted to being a role player: he a career high assist rate (51st), cut down his usage to relative role player levels, and took a lot more spot up shots, while seeing similar success.
So Young's offense has a lot of positive attributes through the cracks. The problem throughout his five years in the league is that the "idea" of Young's offense has always been far better than the execution of that idea, and he's already 28, so one wonders if that will change. To be fair though, he never had any good scoring SGs to emulate in Washington or his brief stints with the Clippers and Sixers, so perhaps Kobe can help him there. As a jumpshooter who really loves the mid-range shot, it's instructive that Young shoots extremely well at both mid range zones to remain efficient, and also shoot well from three, but as mentioned, Young's three point shot slipped a bit recently and his mid-range zone effectiveness is always up and down. This leads to very inconsistent scoring, and explains why his efficiency has always been somewhat subpar. Young has a stigma around the league, dating back to his Washington days, as a tunnel vision high usage mid-range gunner with little scoring efficiency, and that is why despite gaudy scoring stats he never truly got much interest in the open market.
On defense, believe it or not, Young excelled in forcing bricks this year--he was second in Philadelphia in guarding players, and one wonders if Doug Collins' defensive ways really rubbed off on him. In addition, over the past one and a half seasons he's shown an ability to draw charges, ranking 12th out of 62 SGs in both cases. For whatever reason he's been perceived as a defensive liability, likely because he's stayed too long at defensively-awful Washington, but his man defense and team defense have looked quite average in the past. Certainly, though, Young's defensive rebounding ranges from poor to downright awful, and his ability to create deflections is poor. He's not a full-fledged defensive player due to those limitations, but he's improved majorly this past season on defense, and his ability to contest shots and draw charges can prove useful.
Overall, on offense, while Young will never be a passer, he has better adjusted to a role player, and he still carries the allure of being able to create offense by being a deceptively athletic mid-range shooter and occasional three point shooter. While he's a somewhat inefficient scorer, both have greater accuracy potential, and he limits turnovers. On defense, he'll never be a rebounder or deflection type, but he has made inroads with the "steak" defense--forcing missed shots--and also drawing charges. Overall, despite an inability to stuff "hard" stats--rebounds, assists, and steals--he has some two-way potential due to all the subliminal features to his game, and that has gave him greater staying power in terms of getting minutes on the court. Of note is that Young isn't injury prone, but he's not an iron man either, having missed roughly fourteen games over the past three seasons, on average. Overall, it's hard to believe the Lakers received a relative two-way player still in his prime, and only 1-2 years removed from averaging 16.6 and 17.2 points a game, AT the minimum. This looks to be a steal.
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
Updated with Nick Young scouting report. FINALLY a player I like. Huge steal here, especially since Young improved majorly at Philadelphia under Doug Collins' whip-lashing.
Excellent player whether starting or coming off the bench. With Metta gone, I do have doubts about Young at small forward, especially since he looks leaner than his listed weight and doesn't look to have much muscle (he's a jumpshooter after all), but still, he really improved his defense this past year.
Feel like a broken record here, but thanks for the report ryd. Good to hear his D is better than advertised. Can't say I've paid much attention to that aspect of his game since DC and everything there just looks downright bad regardless of one's abilities.
That's the problem. Players bring their own attributes, but the coach makes the collective. D'Antoni always makes the sum greater than its parts on offense by artificially increasing the pace and scoring before defenses are set, but he always makes the sum less than its parts on defense.
Face it--Young is a D'Antoni player. Fearless offensive jumpshooters are what he likes. Young to me might almost be like a mid-range 6'7" version of Eddie House, if you remember him. I think Young's defense will revert back to about average under D'Antoni--Collins really coached him up there.
Defensively, our team will suffer for sure. Replacing Dwight with Kaman is like going from California weather to the North Pole on defense. Nash and Hill are turnstyles on defense. Farmar could very well play subpar defense too. Kobe regressed last year and when he needs to score, he'll ease up on defense. So overall, this will be a problem next season.
BTW--updated Young's report a little bit. I think I was a little too enthusiastic after the signing and forgot to talk about his problems. Third paragraph talks all about it and his stigma of being a chucker.
Wesley Johnson: Position: SF Height: 6’7” Weight: 215 Age: 26 Contract: $1,352,181 ('13-'14) Nickname: N/A Years With Team: 0 Years With League: 3 Previous Teams: Minnesota, Phoenix Acquired: Free Agent '13
Johnson's an absolute frustrating player to watch, because, even in an offense that tends to be the Shangri-La for any sort of wing player, you get the feeling that he has developed the least of the many players that the Lakers have brought in this season. The guy is just a basketball enigma: he looks the part in so many ways, with a 7'1" wingspan and 37' inch vertical, but he just doesn't play the part on offense or defense the way that those physical tools would suggest. While his lack of offense can be somewhat excused for his lack of handles, he also needs to be blamed for his lack of motor, lack of desire to cut off the ball as of late and most of all, his lack of desire to improve on those weaknesses even slightly. On defense, there is no excuse: he's been in the league for a while, but he finds himself in a bind by fouling against bigger matchups and allowing tons of second choice points, messing up any defensive potential here. There's just no way an athlete of his caliber should never draw fouls, or rebound poorly. His usage rate is incredibly low, and considering that he doesn't bring much on defense and rebounding, too often he just looks invisible out there. He might be a fun-loving guy with a million dollar smile, but when it's coupled with what looks like a laissez-faire approach on both sides of the ball, it looks like his work ethic is just extremely, extremely questionable.
Defense has been a problem for Johnson this year on so many fronts, but a lot of the "hypothetical" appeal of his physical tools is that he can guard three positions. Indeed, D'Antoni has sic'd him mostly on small forwards but has given him enough time to guard PFs, and occasionally SGs. Johnson does have his virtues on actual defense this year: He's one of only a few players who is straddling the one steal-one block per game this season, a very interesting counting stat wrinkle. It has to be noted how special his shotblocking is: he's third among SFs in blocks per 48 minutes, but also 17th in steals for this ranking. And against both small forwards and power forwards, he does a very good job of contesting shots and forcing bricks. He's best against small forwards, because on top of that he controls his fouls and doesn't send them to the line. The significant problem is the power forward matchup: Johnson is an absolute hack on defense due to his light frame and tendency to get out of position, routinely sending PFs to the line while he gets in foul trouble. The other thing, with respect to both positions? Johnson just majorly gets outrebounded. Each and every single game by his matchup. Johnson's 55th among 66 SFs in defensive rebound rate, a pathetic mark for someone with great tools: even against SFs, there's a -2.4 difference here, but against PFs? A -5. He's absolutely gets rocked here, exacerbating the Lakers' team-wide awful rebounding patterns by relinquishing a ton of second chance opportunities. Johnson adds to that by sending opposing PFs to the line, offsetting any root virtues in defensive playmaking and contesting shots. That rebounding issue is really major for him, and part of it is that he just doesn't box out and prefers to use his insane no-step leaping ability and wingspan to grab boards, so he has zero fundamentals. Even team-wise, the Lakers are a few points worse with him on the floor defensively, suggesting that his net man and team defense might not even be average, a major disappointment for someone of his tools.
On offense, Johnson serves as the Lakers' resident dunker mostly off transition (leading the team this season, and 11.1% of his shots are dunks), but even his shots are adventures here. His dunk percentage, at 83.8%, is very poor, and can be attributed to his small hands but also some lack of focus at times. He also goes for a few tip-ins as well, but is a fairly mediocre offensive rebounder. On non-corner spot-up three pointers, which comprise over a third of his shots, Johnson shoots 39.6% on them, a very good mark. He's a low usage type who can hit wing threes in the half court and dunk in transition, but only that.
Johnson's low usage (54th out of 66 SFs) stems from a lack of ability to create shots, whether layups or mid-rangers off the dribble, especially in half-court settings. Here's something appalling, for his physical tools: only 12 qualified SFs take fewer layups than him, and only 16 finish worse; the very few layups, in addition to a zero runner game, explains why he rarely draws fouls, because he just doesn't have the handles or the judiciousness to attempt to take those shots. He's taking far more set-up mid-range jumpers this year, and shooting a career-low on them (32.6%), which is a problem because this is another third of his shots. As far as passing and limiting turnovers, he's middle-of-the-road in both areas.
The problem with Johnson might also be finding the position where he can be most effective in: he plays small forwards the best defensively, but he takes a nap offensively and really doesn't look to score at that position at all. In essence, invisibility. And then at power forward, he's a far more active scorer, but he really struggles to defend the position. The Lakers mostly use Johnson at SF, and thus too often see his invisibility on offense, but he plays enough PF where his defensive woes are also exposed. Simply stated, he hasn't found a niche. An active stretch-four role is mitigated by awful rebounding and defense, and at small forward he's a no-show on offense who can defend. He can't put two and two together, and one would think that with an expiring contract, he'd play with more urgency and make improvements. But that hasn't happened, and it speaks more about Johnson's (lack of) motor and work ethic than anything else.
Johnson's offensive game has been completely D'Antoni'ed through the first fifteen games with the Lakers--he's a low usage hybrid forward who is told to play off the ball to shoot threes or finish at the rim, so his absolute lack of handles are hidden. In fact, D'Antoni has used him more frequently at smallball power forward this year--it's questionable whether this is his natural position, since he has inherent weaknesses, but this has allowed him to indulge in a shot selection that's more sustainable for him long term, rather than binge-ing on mid-range jumpers as he is wont to do in the past. Long mid-range J's have been converted into wing three pointers, where he is absolutely sizzling so far, and he's also a threat on left corner threes. As a career 34% three point shooter, it's questionable how sustainable this is, but for now, it works.
By playing more at power forward, he's now far more resourceful at playing around the rim. Laker points routinely look for Johnson with bounce passes, lobs, and backdoor type plays in half-court sets, and of course he's always a threat in transition. In addition, Johnson has pursued offensive boards with more zeal. The problem is that the returns have been very awful: Johnson really struggles to finish at the rim, and despite his elite athleticism, he is and has always been non-elusive with an extremely awful free throw rate. Johnson doesn't draw contact on his drives, cannot contort in the face of defenders, and despite the athleticism, even the dunks are an adventure--he's missed quite a few dunks due to is extremely small hands. All in all, the three point shooting is far better than the finishing at this stage, although it has to be said that he's by far the most athletic Laker this season, even with the inside woes.
Due to the low usage and refusal to dribble inside the arc, there are games where Johnson is absolutely invisible on offense, especially since he just does not have a real go-to offensive trick inside or outside, but also if there is not a creating PG to optimize his relative strengths. In half court sets, he lacks basketball IQ and sometimes cannot find the happy medium--he either hesitates too much, takes a contested three, avoids the better passing option, or simply stays invisible.
Defensively, Johnson, as a converted smallball power forward, finds himself matched up against more power forwards this year. And while Johnson's always been more sizzle than steak on defense, this year it appears to be even more so. Good news first: Johnson piles up a ton of steals and blocks, and is a far more motivated rebounder playing power forward. He's very reflexive and a natural jumper even on defense, surprising shot takers in blocking their jumpers but also having a few moments with chase down blocks. The problem is that he's absolutely being sizzled in man-to-man situations against most power forwards, as they shoot well and draw fouls against him, and even in team defense he gets lost in the shuffle. Also, Johnson has become a major hack on defense, especially guarding power forwards. While he does better guarding small forwards, as was the case in previous stops, his rebounding just suffers immensely.
Johnson has major limitations playing either forward position--at small forward, he indulges in jumpers and doesn't rebound, and at power forward, he's much more aggressive around the rim but really struggles to defend. However, D'Antoni has maximized him on offense, making him into a three point shooter with much more activity, albeit ineffective, around the rim. On defense he's very athletic, as usual, and the athleticism is maximized playing at power forward, but he absolutely lacks the nuances of the actual defense. A lot of his game is a bit of a facade that's created by the system and the style itself, but the Lakers have probably stretched the boundaries of Johnson here.
Johnson's game is almost exclusively 10 feet out on offense--particularly, his livelihood is centered around spot-up inclined long mid-range J's (4th out of 70 SFs), but also other spot-up inclined 10-15 foot jumpers (26th) and threes (34th): Johnson looks like he might have something going with his short and long mid-range jumpers, shooting both somewhat above the norms last year, but also quite well in past seasons overall. However, he's consistently been a subpar spot-up three point shooter with his attempts: over the past two years, only three-four out of 70 small forwards attempted the same amount of threes or more, and shot worse. Johnson's bane is his complete INABILITY to attack the rim, due to his lack of ballhandling: he ranked 64th out of 70 SFs this year in at-rim attempts, and 9th in percent of at-rim shots assisted, which suggests he lacks the ability to drive off his own dribble. In addition, he lacks complete deceptiveness on offense, similarly ranking 64th out of 70 SFs in his ability to draw fouls, and despite his athleticism he's unwilling to stick his nose in the fray for offensive boards (54th). The real shame is that Johnson is really athletic when he attacks the rim, which as mentioned, is once in a blue moon: while he dunked on "only" 20% of his at-rim shots this year, a number that still puts him in the athletic SF crop, he dunked on 31% and 40% of his at-rim attempts his first two years, numbers that would have him in the top eight of athletic small forwards, so this makes him a real threat in transition. Johnson's lack of handles also is manifested in his precipitously declining assist rate: once upon a time, in his rookie season, he was 13th in assist rate. Last season? 68th OUT of 70 SFs. On offense, Johnson's progressively become a somewhat high usage (15th) tunnel-vision mid-range shooter with the occasional subpar long ball on the side.
On defense, Johnson has potential, but was a bit underwhelming considering what he had done in past seasons. In terms of contesting shots, Johnson rated right about average in Phoenix, as five Suns actually were better on that end than he was. In terms of "hard" defensive attributes, Johnson has always been a poor rebounder (52nd) but he's shown excellent shotblocking potential, ranking 9th and 19th the two seasons before. While this season was more ordinary (32nd), he drastically cut down his foul rate (23rd) so that might have played a role. Johnson has a reasonable foundation for contesting and blocking shots, but the actual shotblocking is ahead of his "steak" defense, and his limitations as a rebounder hurt somewhat, so he's somewhat of a work in progress here.
Ultimately, Johnson's just the model of inefficiency in his personal offense, ranking 52nd out of 70 SFs in efficiency, and for his career he has never been above 50th in this rank: the problem is he excels in shots with the least value, avoids the shot with the most value, is subpar with tagging in the extra point and just lacks deceptiveness for brownie points. To illustrate that deceptiveness, Johnson's inability to handle or pass the ball, or get offensive boards for easy buckets, robs him of the "intangibles" coaches like to laud their smarter players for having. Johnson's offensive game just feels completely "unintelligent", offsetting some of his ground skills with his mid-range touch in half-court and his athleticism in transition. Johnson has less hindrances on defense, but his sizzle shotblocking is ahead of his somewhat average actual defense, even if there's potential. Of note is that it feels as if Johnson's losing athleticism: this past season, he had fewer attempts at-rim, his dunk rate decreased somewhat significantly, and his rate of blocks also fell sharply. This isn't too big a deal--his dunk rate and block rates (the only two places where his athleticism is manifested) are still somewhat above the norm, and he's only 26, so could recover to prior levels.
Overall, Johnson has some some interesting skills on both ends that need to be maximized to their greatest potential--spot-up mid-range shooting, transition dunking, shotblocking, OK ability to contest shots--while minimizing all his various weaknesses in ballhandling, passing, rebounding and long range shooting. There's some concern he might be a bit soft (typically tougher players have better free throw and rebound rates than what he sports) and that could limit his potential somewhat, but if under the right team, the right environment, he has some skills which can be maximized into a niche athletic shooting/defending role, even if they're both raw around the edges.
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:55 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Updated with Wes Johnson's scouting report. I kind of like him a little bit--more than I do Farmar and Kaman, for sure--but there's a reason he's perceived as a bust--he has a lot of weaknesses. But look more closely and you definitely see some NBA-viable skills--he's an NBA-level athlete, dunk maven in transition, can hit mid-range J's and has some potential in contesting shots (good shotblocker in particular). I think we have the sort of structure (Kobe, Pau, Lakers, etc) to help him harness them. He's a role player, a niche guy, and needs to be treated as such. Minnesota was clearly unsure of how to handle him, because he was drafted fourth so they gave him a role that was too big for him to handle, and Phoenix kind of treated him as an afterthought, gave up on the season and gave him the green light to do whatever he wanted.
He's a flawed player, and I really dislike his ability to rebound or pass, but he fits the mold of a diamond in the rough player Mitch always likes, provided his strengths are maximized and weaknesses are minimized.
Shawne Williams Position: PF Height: 6’9” Weight: 225 Age: 27 Contract: $884,293 (’13-14) Nickname: N/A Years With Team: 0 Years With League: 5 Previous Teams: Indiana, Dallas, New York, New Jersey Acquired: Free Agent '13
Williams' role on offense is so laughably simplistic--just stand in the perimeter and hoist up spot-up, high-arching three pointers. The problem is, he's not even good at it, with a career mark of 33.3%. But since he put up a 40.1% mark firing three pointers in Mike D'Antoni's offense back in New York, D'Antoni decided to give him a bit of a reprieve by making him somewhat of a bench fixture with the Lakers in the early going. Without that association, it's questionable whether he would even be in the league otherwise. He's been shuffled in and out of the lineup at times because when he's not hitting threes, which is quite often, he's just useless. This year, it's more of the same--two-thirds of his shots are triples, and he's hitting at a 31% rate, although he's surprisingly good so far from the top of the floor, but awful at the corners. Of note is that he's moving the ball very well for a power forward, with the 17th highest assist rate as of this writing, but he's a bit prone in forcing passes for turnovers as well.
Williams, despite sporting a 7'3" wingspan and being only age 27, has absolutely zero desire to play at the rim, a rate that has only gotten worse over the years. Ever since a very promising rookie year where he finished around the rim well and the subsequent second year in which he displayed a good mid-range game, he James Jones'ed his shot selection to pretty much just rack up threes after his third year. He's one of the worst offensive rebounding power forwards, has a ridiculously awful foul drawing rate, but most surprisingly, is incredibly un-athletic: he appears rangy and long, but had one of the worst dunk rates in New York and New Jersey. In the early returns with the Lakers, he's only two of twelve at the rim. Enough said.
Defensively, he's been surprisingly decent, particularly in team defense with his ability to move his feet and leverage his length in rotations. He's great at rotating for weak side shotblocks in particular, putting up a career high shotblocking rate in the early going, and seventh among power forwards. In the aggregate, he's a tick above average in blocking shots. Overall he's done a decent job contesting shots this year, even in a man-to-man basis. He's also defensive rebounding better than he has before, even if it went from downright awful to subpar. There are still major limitations--by finally concentrating on defense, Williams has went from majorly foul prone to excessively foul prone. He is an absolute hack who noticeably still gets overpowered by stronger and more skilled power forwards at the rim, and puts them at the line frequently. This is the primary reason he cannot stay on the court for a prolonged period of the time. The rebounding is still not up to snuff, and he gets outrebounded by his matchup most of the time. But still, considering in the past he has been a net negative in overall defense, this is a marked improvement--while he has always has the physical tools, one has to wonder, given his track record, whether this could hold.
Williams is the very definition of a smallball four: he plays completely at the perimeter on offense, and just doesn't punch his weight in at-rim defense and rebounding. His main virtue is actually with his ability to rotate on defense and contest shots, and some side passing as well as the perceived threat of the three point shot rather than its actual execution, because surprisingly, the Lakers have been a few points better offensively with him on the floor. But his constant hacking, inability to rebound and inability to play inside, combined with his proven subpar long ball, makes him really a fringe player, and he's lucky to have found a spot with D'Antoni's smallball schemes, once again. Even with the improvements on defense.
Williams has opted to take a highly simplistic role on offense the past two years, which is a shame considering that he was 25-26 year old PF and had a 7'3" wingspan: over half of his shots were spot-up three pointers, largely becoming a specialist (ranking 5th and 1st out of 67 PFs here). He was low usage, didn't show much passing, and never turned the ball over because he didn't have to dribble and had little responsibility. Williams looked sharp from deep with the Knicks, shooting 40% on that high volume, but he shot 31% from deep in college, and had even more hellish percentages in the league--31%, 24%, and somehow, even 6%, and the latter two were killers--30% and 55% of his attempts were from three those seasons, and as mentioned, he was virtually always spotting up. There's really a ton of history to suggest he's actually a very poor long range shooter, and that his Knicks year was the anomaly. What's particularly disappointing is that while he never slashes, he's always been a subpar finisher despite the wingspan, and that's because he's one of the worst athletes offensively, virtually rarely, if ever, dunking when he sees rim (only ten PFs had a worse rate of dunks in NY; in New Jersey, only four had worse), and on top of that just cannot draw fouls (bottom five foul drawer past two seasons) or get O-boards to scrounge for easy points. As a smallball PF, Williams is also a subpar defensive rebounder, and in fact had the worst rebound rate among PFs last year, a huge red flag; also, he's a major hack defensively through most of his career with fouls, but he's had very promising block rates in the past (12th and 22nd playing many games) and even seems willing to draw charges.But overall, he's as clueless defensively as he is inept offensively: he was overpowered defensively as a smallball PF in D'Antoni's junk offenses in both man and team defense, but particularly man-to-man, and exhibited similar problems in New Jersey. To recap, the problems were threefold: he can't defend, he can't rebound, he fouls all the time. And on offense, he's a spot up three point shooter who can't hit them, despite a super simplistic role. He's also had off the court baggage, maturity problems, and work ethic issues, never really giving the appearance he's playing hard, so all those issues are virtually impossible to overcome, especially at age 27. Way too many weaknesses, and arguably zero strengths.
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Elias Harris (6'7" 220 lb PF) Harris, a German out of Gonzaga, is not even a NBA-viable player, having ranked 96th in my draft rater--which means that if there were a third round, he likely wouldn't have been drafted still. One of the biggest problems is that he's already very old, and will be 24 when the season starts, and his passing and ballhandling are at PF levels, so he's docked somewhat as an undersized PF as well. However, he's an excellent rebounder, particularly in defensive rebounding, even for a power forward, and this will be his calling card for the NBA. There's some intrigue elsewhere however--he looks what could be an OK shooter, with OK free throw shooting percentages and surprisingly, he's even shot above 40% from three for two of his four college seasons, albeit in limited attempts. He finishes inside well relative to other PFs as well. Also, he can jump, with a 38' inch vertical. However, he's largely a catch-and-shoot or catch-and-dump player with the lack of handles. Also, he seems like he'd be non-descript on defense in general--he doesn't make many defensive plays, and has nondescript end to end speed, lateral quickness and strength. Conditioning is also an issue--he's carrying a lot of excess body fat. He's really a tweener--he'll need to be crossmatched as a power forward offensively and as a SF defensively, and attempt to put his rebounding to the forefront with side finishing ability and some catch-and-shoot jumpers. His profile isn't too unlike that of Thaddeus Young's, actually. Really, his major concerns are with his undersized profile and his advanced age, but there's definite role player potential to work with here. But, given all the various hurdles, I doubt he'd overcome it, which is why he's rated so low.