Writers Wanted: Lakers Training Camp Preview

Writers Wanted: Lakers Training Camp Preview

Postby clublakers on Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:35 am

Let's get this 2006-07 party started by adding some editorial content to the front page.

If anyone would like to be an Analyst (ie Staff Writer) for the 2006-07 season please reply in this thread with your sample editorial... the theme is "Lakers Training Camp 2006-07 Preview".

Let's keep it clean by not posting comments here -- feel free and create new threads if you want to compliment an editorial.

BDG and Staff will select any writers that are worthy for News/Editorial publishing access.
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Postby KB24 on Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:38 am

ya guys we need writers to write for us. Whether its for the forum or for the front page.

there are 2 conditions.

1. You need to be able to write (lol)
2. You need to write every once in a while, in other words be reliable and consistent.

everybody is welcomed.

PM one of the staff members.
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Postby pureuncut100 on Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:42 pm

After a very encouraging 05/06 season the first preseason game is right around the corner. Training camp is here and it is time to analyze the 06/07 Lakers. Lets get down to business.

Before going into an analysis of any player we first must look at the team as a whole. Given the way the Lakers finished last year, it is pretty evident that chemistry and cohesion is the name of the game in training camp. Kobe will always be the primary scorer on this team but the Phoenix series should've taught us that every player on the court must complement each other. There is no chemistry or cohesion in watching Kobe score 40. If everyone is doing something then Kobes' job is that much easier. Odoms' job is that much easier. Everyones job is so much easier. The ability of a player to integrate themselves into what the Lakers do, the triangle, will be a big deal in training camp and throughout this preseason.

One more thing before we look more specifically into players. As Laker fans we all know that in the past couple of years there have been many games where the Lakers simply did not show up. This team has been very frustrating in the effort given on more than a few occasions. A huge asset to any player hoping to make the team will be intensity and intangibles. The Lakers have the scorers and rebounders. What will be huge for the players in this training came is the ability to do everything else and the ability to bring it every night.

Lets look at 4 players for now who are pretty much known unknowns. I am talking unobvious players that have the potential to really impact this season for the Lakers

Vladimir Radmanovic - The biggest off season acquisition the Lakers made. In training camp and throughout the preseason you better believe Phil Jackson and his staff will be trying to find a niche for this guy. It has been a while since the Lakers had a zone buster or a guy that could make teams pay for double teaming. If Radmanovic finds a comfort zone and figures out where to be and the team figures out where to find him then he has the ability to change the nature of this team. Radmanovic is a true complement to Kobe and Lamar especially if they both decide to be a threat going to the hole.

Kwame Brown - 3 words will tell you the impact he has on the 06/07 Lakers CONFIDENCE, CONFIDENCE, CONFIDENCE. Kwame is already one of the best position post defenders in the league. His ability to play defense on the best PFs and Cs is excellent, almost uncanny. If Kwame gets some confidence in his game then he also has the potential to change the nature of the team. If Kwame adds a 15 footer, a consistent jump hook and confident hands then watch out. The Lakers will try to establish that confidence in training camp and the preseason.

Smush Parker - Smush is very similar to Kwame Brown. Confidence is the key to his season. A consistent jumper and solid defense is all any of us want from Smush. I have seen him do both many times, he just has to be consistent with it. Frequently when Smush played well the Lakers played well. I truely believe a confident Smush was the difference in the Lakers losing in 7 or winning in 6 against Phoenix. Like Kwame, the Lakers will try to establish confidence in Smush throughout training camp and the preseason.

Andrew Bynum - Bynum may not have an impact on the Lakers because of his on court play this year. Bynum will be an impact because he will directly effect what the Lakers do with Chris Mihm. When Bynum begins to carry himself like a man on the court, he will be a game changer. The strength is coming but he does not yet have the presence of a Shaq or Dwight Howard or Ben Wallace. If that presence is seen in training camp and the preseason then Bynum will change the nature of this team. If Bynum is at least as adequate as Mihm then the Lakers choose Bynum. This situation could result in a solid piece to the Laker puzzle or we could simply have 3 solid centers on the roster. TIme will tell.

Phil Jackson and the assistent coaches will play with the lineup enough to figure out what he has. The synopsis given above is what I think Phil is looking for from players who have a chance to positively impact this team in a significant way. In the next review I will give you some names of players who are on the outside looking in but still could have a role on the 06/07 Lakers.
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Postby trodgers on Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:40 pm

Los Angeles Lakers 2006-2007 Season Preview: Point-Counterpoint

Each season brings a blank slate for thirty teams in the NBA. The bottom feeders receive a new hope, a chance to start again. The elite teams from last season also have to start again, for better or worse. While some teams will rocket their way up the standings, making huge improvements from last season, other teams will make meteoric descents. This is the way the NBA is, with free agency, a small pool of position players, and a large pool of applicants. Teams can change their stripes in the blink of an eye. With all this parity in mind, I present LA's 2006/07 Two Extremes: Point-Counterpoint, along with a Hegelian Synthesis of the two theses.

Point: LA won 45 games last season, improving by 11 wins on the way to reaching the playoffs after a one year hiatus. Thus, they're a prime candidate for a playoff team.
Counterpoint: LA was embarrassed in Game 7 by a Phoenix team that was clearly superior, both mentally and physically. And Phoenix couldn't make it to the big dance, so LA is nowhere near a championship team. The playoffs will be a struggle.
Synthesis: LA did win 45 games, did make the playoffs, and was one rebound away from a second round berth. But the Lakers have not addressed their most glaring weakness: the PG spot. The NBA is not a video game. Players do not all come in to the season more motivated, bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter. Some are slackers. Lakers fans cannot bank on every position being slightly improved so the PG deficit can be concealed by other positions. PG remains a huge question mark.

Likewise, expect some teams to be healthier than they were last year (most notably Houston). In the same breath, other teams will not all be the same or better as they were last season. As a result, and given LA's youth relative to other clubs, I expect them to improve slightly more than most other teams. A 49 win season is not a stretch if Kobe Bryant is healthy. That's good enough for a 4th or 5th seed.


Point: LA has made offseason moves that will shore up the rotation, add scoring punch, and solidify the defense.
Counterpoint: LA brought in a redundant soft tweener Forward; a PG whose last NBA game was played in May, 2004; and a 28 year old G/F who is now with his fourth team in his four seasons. They blew it.
Synthesis: Vladimir Radmanovic makes Lamar Odom the PF with very little doubt. Vlad's strength is outside shooting, but he is a competent passer and ballhandler as well. Shammond Williams could see anywhere between zero and 20 minutes per game. He looks to be in fantastic physical condition, but no one has seen him against NBA competition in some time. Mo Evans only has to be a good bench player. And that's precisely what he is. He can hit the outside shot, rebounds well, and plays solid defense. He has also been on a team that went to the ECF against the eventual NBA Champions. In other words, he has solid playoff experience. LA's bench is now infinitely better than it was two season ago, can now probably consider itself a middle of the road bench. That means LA doesn't lose so much when the starters come off the court. That's huge.

Point: Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum are beasts. Their mere size makes them defensive presences. Turiaf has also shown a lot defensively. Add in Mo Evans and Jordan Farmar, and LA will be bringing home at least five All-Defense Awards this season. Shaq and Zo who?
Counterpoint: Kwame is always hurt; Bynum, Farmar, Evans, and Turiaf are all bench players. Odom can't defend PFs because he's too small or SFs because they're too fast. Kobe spends too much energy on offense to defend effectively. Smush Parker was humiliated and abused during the playoffs. Finally, Radmanovic is just like Odom.
Synthesis: LA's defense was 15th in Points Yielded per game, 12th in FG% allowed, and 9th in Total Rebounds Allowed per game. These are all excellent building blocks considering all of our players are "matadors" as some say. That huge question mark wearing #1 still remains in the starting lineup, but expect LA to be improved at all other positions, albeit slightly. The big lift will come, I think, from the bench. LA is able to field a second team of solid defenders at the SG (Evans), PF (Turiaf), and C (Bynum). Despite many detractors, Sasha Vujacic (PG) performed admirably for stretches last season. With a bit of team cohesion, some fresh blood, I expect LA to be around 8th to 12th in all of the above categories. That in itself would have given LA another handful of wins last season.

The Preview: The Team
LA should feature an offense, defense, and bench that are all at least average. That coupled with an explosive scorer and a solid outside shooter (or two) should give LA somewhere in the vicinity of 49 wins. That would likely give LA a 4th or 5th seed.

Point Guard: Position Grade (D)
There is a bit of a logjam at PG, with absolutely no one deserving of the starting spot based on past indications. It will be interesting to see how Phil Jackson distributes minutes, but I would wager that on any given night, at least three players (Smush Parker, Shammond Williams, Sasha Vujacic) should be mentally prepared to get the start. Each offers a different skill set, but none are more than adequate defensively.
Smush Parker Smush's biggest problem is his mental frailty. He needs to get some confidence and competitive fire. Projection: 11.4 points, 3.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds.
Shammond Williams Williams seems fast, fiery, and a solid outside shooter. He also seems like someone who invests little defensively. Projection: 5.7 points, 2.3 assists, 1.5 rebounds.
Sasha Vujacic Sasha needs his shots to fall...in game time. His tendency to disappear offensively really outweighed his defensive contributions, which, while solid at times, were rarely sustained. Projection: 1.8 points, 0.9 assists, 0.8 rebounds.
Jordan Farmar If things go according to plan, Farmar will be the PG for years to come. It just won't happen in 2006/2007. He's young and raw. Projection: 2.9 points, 1.1 assists, 0.7 rebounds (very limited action).

Shooting Guard: Position Grade (A+)
When you have Kobe Bryant on your team, you feel good, but Kobe's knee surgery has some Lakers fans chomping at the bit. Hopefully, he'll be at full strength for the regular season. Brought in to back up Kobe, Mo Evans seems a competent all-around player who gives Kobe the best backup he has had in years.
Kobe Bryant Just let him get healthy, then watch him load up the stat sheet and take over games in the clutch. Projection: 32.1 points, 5.4 assists, 5.9 rebounds.
Mo Evans Needs to hit the outside shot consistently, work hard defensively. He seems up to the task. 6.3 points, 0.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds.
Aaron McKie McKie needs to be bought out or he needs to get healthy immediately. If healthy, he can contribute as a veteran stabilizing force. Projection: Uncertain.

Small Forward: Position Grade (C+)
Los Angeles's most crowded position a season or two ago is now streamlined. There's a bit of everything at this position except for a strong defensive player.
Vladamir Radmanovic Flat out, a good shooter. Should thrive offensively with Kobe on the court. Must make a difference on the defensive end. Projection: 12.3 points, 2.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds.
Luke Walton 12 Points, 6 boards, and 1.7 assists as a starter in the playoffs showed what Luuuuuke can do for LA. Projection: 5.8 points, 1.2 assists, 2.2 rebounds.
Devin Green May not make the team, but seems like a prototypical SF in the triangle. Just doesn't have those talents developed to the proper level as yet. Projection: 1.9 points, 0.4 assists, 0.9 rebounds.

Power Forward: Position Grade: (C+)
LA can't really put the Power in Power Forward. Odom is obviously emotionally crushed, Turiaf is young, Cook is soft, and Kwame doesn't seem to have the ability to play PF. This could become a problem for the Lakers as the season wears on, Odom's conditioning is tested.
Lamar Odom One of the most underrated (by LA fans) players in the league. He does it all offensively, and is competent defensively. Projection: 15.6 points, 5.6 assists, 10.0 rebounds.
Ronny Turiaf Ronny is one of the most loveable guys on the planet, showed a great knack for getting to the FT line, blocking shots. Could be an emotional leader by season's end. 4.3 points, 0.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds.
Brian Cook Vlad Radmanovic at the PF spot. A tremendous shooter who seems to make all the wrong choices. Should have worked on his defense and strength this offseason. Worked on speed instead. Projection: 3.6 points, 0.4 assists, 2.1 rebounds.
Marcus Douthit Likely finished with LA (like he ever started). An intriguing prospect who has just never delivered. Projection: Uncertain.

Center: Position Grade (B-)
The center of attention? After Kobe, probably. LA has a nice mix of defense and offense at the Center spot, mostly in the form of two huge athletes. Chris Mihm, if healthy, could be the best 3rd string Center in the league.
Kwame Brown Here's hoping Kwame can even approach Phil Jackson's goals of 15/10, while playing better rotational defense. Projection: 8.3 points, 1.1 assists, 6.4 rebounds.
Andrew Bynum He's huge, he's exciting, and he's so young it's scary. At this point, however, he's almost pure potential. It's not until next season that we should start worrying. A strong performance would be reason to believe Bynum is special. Projection: 3.6 points, 0.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds.
Chris Mihm Showed that he could be a starting Center in the NBA. Injuries and Kwame Brown have forced him to the backup role. He seems a team player, should do well in the role. Would not be surprised to see him starting because of injuries or otherwise. Projection: 8.8 points, 0.9 assists, 6.3 rebounds.
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Postby MikeLG on Thu Oct 05, 2006 5:00 pm

Los Angeles Lakers 2006-2007 Season Preview Part I.

After losing a 3-1 lead to the Phoenix Suns in last season's playoffs, the team looked to retool a bit. A few moves were made while other current Laker players spent their offseason working on their physiques and skills to prepare themselves for an improved season.

Offseason:
During the offseason, the Lakers drafted Jordan Farmar, and acquired Maurice Evans through a trade with Detroit. Danilo Pinnock was picked up from Dallas. Vladimir Radmanovic was picked up with the Mid-Level-Exception and Shammond Williams was picked up at the Lower-Level Exception. Because of that, the LLE will not be available in the next offseason.

The Good:
The triangle offense is predicated on guard skills; dribbling, passing, and shooting up to 24'. It would be most efficient if every player on the team had those abilities, but that kind of talent is a lot to ask in the modern NBA.

The Lakers acquired players who cater most to those skills. Jordan Farmar and his natural Point Guard skills, Shammond Williams and Vladimir Radmanovic with their 3pt. shooting ability, Evans and Pinnock being able to create shots from midrange.

Drafting Jordan Farmar was smart choice by Kupchak. At 19, he helped the UCLA club overachieve all the way to the NCAA Finals. UCLA faced a far tougher, more talented team to the University of Florida, but during the tournament, Farmar demonstrated true leadership, poise, energy, and genuine point guard skills that the teammates improve under his play.

During the Summer Pro League, his play stood out even more, hitting open perimeter shots, rarely forcing the issue, and playing a controlled game. He came into trouble with turnovers due to a lack of upper body strength to shield defenders off, but worked on his strength and skills during the offseason. The fact that he's being placed in the Developmental League, is a slap on the face.

Shammond Williams was picked up to contribute 3pt. shooting at the Point Guard position. Neither Sasha nor Parker shot well during the postseason. Sasha often rushed shots, while Parker burned his legs trying to keep up with Nash. The starting job won't be his, but if he can hit key shots as Brian Shaw did in the past, the pick up was well worth it.

Vladimir Radmanovic contributes much needed perimeter shooting and some rebounding ability as well. While he has worked on his defense during training camp, a lot is best left unsaid about his man-defense. Though he has good size at 6'10" 250, he's not a shotblocker, nor is he a physical player.

Maurice Evans is the guy flying under the radar right now. Not much is being said about him. He's a physical defender, comparably to the likes of a smaller Jumaine Jones. He was among the elite athletes in Euroleague, and played for Benetton Treviso, one of the most elite teams. After averaging 17 points and 4 rebounds a game as one of the top scoring options, the opportunity opened for him through Sacramento. Right now, he's the unknown underdog, who has an offensive repetroire built around his athleticism and great physique.

Danilo Pinnock was a surprise steal. He showed strong guard skills, even backing up Farmar at Point Guard during the Summer Pro League. He demonstrated strong defense against his assignments and showed great shot selection, mostly from midrange, as well as some playmaking ability.

The Bad:
Unfortunately, the Lakers weren't able to address the most primary concern. Interior play.

While a dramatic improvement defensively occured under Phil Jackson, the Lakers are just an average defensive team. They lack consistent interior shotblocking and rebounding presence. Mihm fouls out too early. Kwame is far too inconsistent. This simply makes it easier for defenses to create a strategy against Odom and Bryant, by crowding the perimeter.

Interior play isn't the only concern, as defense at the Point Guard position is also valuable. What Smush Parker does best is force turnovers by gambling, utilizing his wingspan and footwork. What doesn't happen consistently is his ability to fight over screens and hedge out Point Guards away from the paint during pick and roll situations. Too often, Parker gets blown by sheer quickness alone. Anyone who can stay in front and be physical against opposing Point Guards are usually the teams that have good success defensively.

Prediction:
Assuming the Lakers are healthy, I think they'll win 48 games. While there is increased offensive talent and a defensive focus by the coaches, it's another thing altogether to acquire defensive talent. Practice only perfects what talent is available, and unfortunately, there is still no primary shotblocker in the game for 35 minutes, nor is there a point guard that can defend and contain the league's best under the new NBA rules. That may mean a 2nd round advance in the playoffs, but it doesn't mean a shot at the Finals, nor does it mean the ultimate goal, a Championship.

Part II of the preview will include a roster analysis of what the roster can bring on both ends of the floor.
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Postby trodgers on Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:58 am

Training Camp Follow-Up: Ins and Outs

As The Lakers wrap up the first week of training camp, the question on everyone's mind is, "Who will make the final roster?" Although it is early, a rough answer is beginning to take shape. With 20 players invited to camp and only 15 spots on the roster available, including the Developmental League players and other inactives, the Lakers are looking at dropping five players. What follows is a position-by-position analysis of who is most likely in, and who is going to be searching elsewhere for a job.

Point Guard With five players who would likely fit the bill for a triangle PG, there is likely to be at least one Point Guard who doesn't make the final roster. So then, who's in and who is out?

Jordan Farmar: Drafted #26 overall this season, Farmar led the Lakers Summer Pro League (SPL) team in most categories. He surprised with his athleticism and work on the defensive end. He has again impressed early in camp. Farmar still needs to work on his outside shot because a PG who can't hit the three is severely limiting in the triangle. He must also mature a lot. He cannot be expected to master the triangle in just a month or two, but he has shown a good grasp by all accounts so far. Farmar is likely the Lakers PG for years to come...but not this year. Farmar should end up in the Developmental League (DL) for at least part of the season while the logjam at PG resolves itself, Farmar gains some seasoning. That said, Farmar is one of the clearest locks to remain with the team. I would not be surprised to see him starting by next season. Verdict: IN

Smush Parker: After playing basketball overseas, Smush came in to start every single game, preseason to playoffs, for the Lakers. Offensively, the 25 year old was competent, showing a career best outside shooting touch, while keeping the turnovers to a minimum. He is not much of a passer, and seems to lack good vision, but he is very athletic, provided numerous impressive dunks. Defensively, Smush was one of the best in the league at creating steals. His physical tools (great speed, good strength) were not put to use when guarding fast players, however. In fact, his individual defensive performance was the second worst in the Western Conference among all players with at least 20% of their team's minutes played. Smush seemed quite weak mentally, especially during the playoffs. Physically, Smush looks improved, but his real weakness was his mental game. He should enter the season as the #1 PG. Verdict: IN

Sasha Vujacic: At 6-7, 205 pounds, and just 22 years old, Sasha Vujacic has the physical traits that should lend themselves well to playing the PG spot in the triangle. Sasha also has an impressive stroke when shooting the ball, but he has not been able to get that shot falling consistently during games. He made his biggest stride by improving by 6% on FG and 7% on threes from his rookie to sophomore campaigns. Sasha has solid handles, good vision, and is not a ballhog. These factors led to his AST/TO ratio of nearly 3:1 last season. Defensively, Sasha works hard, but doesn't always experience a payoff. He lacks some lateral quickness, and certainly lacked bulk. By adding 10 pounds this offseason, he should put himself in a better position defensively. If Sasha's shot can start falling, I would not be surprised to see him in the starting lineup on occasion. Verdict: Probably IN

Shammond Williams: Shammond Williams is 31, last suited up for an NBA team in 2004. He is a shoot-first PG, who showed a good outside shot while playing overseas. He is thick-bodied, with lots of muscle, the ability to push around other players, and the speed to get past them. Defensively, like Smush, Shammond has the tools, but has not put them together yet. His scouting reports over the years show that he has progressed from a dreadful to an almost adequate defender, so expecting some more improvement might be reasonable. Shammond gives LA tools very similar to Smushs's, but with more fire. He could even start some games as well, depending upon matchups, injuries, and Smush's frame of mind. Verdict: Probably IN

Aaron McKie: The oldest player on the Lakers roster, at 34 years old, McKie is a fantastic example of two things: how poorly the Lakers have spent their MLEs in recent years, and how the mighty can decline. McKie and Vlade Divac's signings with partial MLE over the past two seasons were abysmal failures, with both players missing almost their entire tenure due to injuries. McKie's injury bug has bitten again in training camp. This is a shame because there was a time when McKie was a good defender, a triple-double threat, and a great lead-by-example player. He's now none of those, and he lacks a shot (hit 25% of FG, 50% of FT last season). This recent injury, coupled with a more experienced unit than LA fielded last season, probably means that McKie is going to be bought out. Verdict: Probably OUT

The PG Rotation
If McKie is cut, the Lakers have four Point Guards, three of whom are young (25 or younger). Young, but not inexperienced. Smush has 259 minutes of playoff experience, Shammond has 155, and Sasha 129. Farmar is the only green one of the bunch, but his physical tools and upside figure to pay off in the long run. I expect to see Smush emerge again as the starter at the PG spot, but I would not be surprised to see three different starting PGs at different times in the season depending upon matchups, injuries, and problems with psyches. Farmar could head to the DL to gain gametime experience while the Lakers settle into a definite rotation at PG. Expect Farmar, however, to challenge for playing time as the season progresses.

Biggest Strengths
Outside shooting. Farmar aside, all of the PGs can knock down the outside shot. Also, there are different styles of play at work here, with Sasha being more a passive PG, Shammond being a very aggressive shooter, and Smush being somewhere in-between, LA has different looks to throw at people.

Biggest Weaknesses
Defense. I wouldn't WANT any of these players starting defensively for me, but there are reasons to believe that the PG play will be improved this season. Shammond is said to have that lateral quickness that Sasha lacks, and he may also possess that fire defensively that Smush has lacked in the past.
Last edited by trodgers on Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby trodgers on Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:17 am

Training Camp Follow-Up: Ins and Outs (Part 2)

As The Lakers wrap up the first week of training camp, the question on everyone's mind is, "Who will make the final roster?" Although it is early, a rough answer is beginning to take shape. With 20 players invited to camp and only 15 spots on the roster available, including the Developmental League players and other inactives, the Lakers are looking at dropping five players. What follows is a position-by-position analysis of who is most likely in, and who is going to be searching elsewhere for a job.

Shooting Guard There are probably five players who are best-suited for the SG spot on the Lakers. This means that there are ten players whose natural position is Guard. Something has to give. A team cannot field just five bigs to go with ten backcourt players. So who is in, who is out?

Kobe Bryant: Kobe Bryant is coming off of a 1st team all-nba, 1st team all-defense, 35 point per game season. He is also coming off of knee surgery. He is also 28 years old with a lot of mileage. I fully expect Bryant's knee to recover properly, and for Kobe to challenge for 30 points per game, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds per game. There is no doubt that Kobe is going to make the team. Verdict: IN

Maurice Evans: One of LA's best moves on draft day was picking up Mo Evans in a trade. Evans is 6'5, 220 pounds, and 27 years old. He hits his shot (45% FG, 37% 3pt, 80% FT) from all locations, rebounds, and plays solid defense. He is Kobe's best backup in years.Verdict: IN

Devin Green: Green came out of (almost) nowhere to make the roster last season. I was pleasantly surprised by his peformance in the Summer Pro League (SPL) two seasons ago, and he showed great improvement in this past SPL. While he was a non-factor on the court during his 135 minutes of NBA time, and often looked out of sorts, a year of triangle experience goes a long way. If LA keeps three SGs, Green probably gets the nod. Verdict: Probably IN

Danillo Pinnock: Pinnock would be best-served by a year in the DL. He is just 22, so he has time to wait. Pinnock is an athletic, but raw player, who had a decent SPL, but who doesn't have a great opportunity to make the club. I imagine that the Lakers are hoping to cut him, but to have him report to their DL team. He seems to have the tools (solid all-around offensive game, good defensive passion in the style of a young Aaron McKie) to be successful...but not for some time.Verdict: Probably OUT

Von Wafer: A second round pick in the NBA draft two years ago, Wafer's chances of sticking in the NBA were not great to begin with. A fantastic SPL two years ago gave him the chance. He squandered it. The only thing Wafer has going for him is youth (he is 21). A year in the DL would do him well, but I can't imagine him finding a home on a roster even after this season in the DL. LA probably cannot afford to hold a roster spot for him while he develops. He will most likely be gone.Verdict: Very probably OUT

The SG Rotation
Kobe Bryant played a lot of minutes and a lot of games last year. There were not a lot of "spare" minutes at the SG spot, but part of that may have been the lack of a solid backup. With Evans on the team, I could see Phil Jackson holding fast to his word of holding Kobe under 40 minutes per game, especially early while Bryant's knee heals up. Evans will see significant time. Devin Green, even if he makes the team, would need an injury to someone above him on the depth chart to break 300 minutes on the season.

Biggest Strengths
The best player in the NBA. Kobe does it all. He shoots well, he gets to the FT line, he scores like no one else. He passes well, he handles the ball well, he rebounds, blocks shots, and generates turnovers. When his mind is focused, he is one of the better defenders at the Guard spot. Mo Evans adds more defense and more outside shooting.

Biggest Weaknesses
Kobe tries to take over games on his own sometimes. And sometimes (only sometimes) that's the wrong thing to do. Evans should give Kobe a net of trust, a knowledge that there is someone behind Kobe who can play competently enough to give Kobe a breather, to recharge his battery, so both players can play full bore on offense and defense, something Kobe has not done for two seasons. But Kobe is going to have to learn to trust this team if any of that is to happen.
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Postby trodgers on Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:38 am

Training Camp Follow-Up: Ins and Outs (Part 3)

As The Lakers wrap up the first week of training camp, the question on everyone's mind is, "Who will make the final roster?" Although it is early, a rough answer is beginning to take shape. With 20 players invited to camp and only 15 spots on the roster available, including the Developmental League players and other inactives, the Lakers are looking at dropping five players. What follows is a position-by-position analysis of who is most likely in, and who is going to be searching elsewhere for a job.

Small Forward Small Forward is considerably less-congested than it was, say, two years ago. There are really only two players who are going to be exclusively, or almost exclusively SFs on this roster.

Vladimir Radmanovic: After burning their money for two consecutive seasons, LA wanted to make a change in their spending patterns. Instead of picking up 32+ year old players who had seen significant decline in their production, LA picked up the polar opposite. Coming off of his best all-around season, Vlad is also just 25 years old. He is the outside shooter who is proven in game situations to a level beyond any other Laker "shooter". He's not just an outside shooter, mind you. He can rebound, handle the ball, and pass fairly well. He was surprisingly effective defensively, but will never challenge for a spot on the all-defense team. Vlad should thrive in a system and a setting where he sees more open looks than anywhere else in his career. Verdict: IN

Luke Walton: Luke became a whipping boy during his second season in the NBA when he lost his shooting touch. He came back with his best all-around performance, capped off by a stunningly effective playoff series which was him average 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists along with 46% FG, 36% 3pt FG. Walton showed some additions to his repertoire with a short, high-arc shot, fire on the boards, and an improved outside shot. When Luke gets the opportunity to play heavy minutes, he is one of the best system players around. He is actually a threat for a triple double, but I expect him to be Vlad's primary backup.Verdict: IN

The SF Rotation
Expect some of those Shooting Guards to see time at SF. Lamar Odom, to be previewed in the next section, will also see time at SF. But this is Vladimir Radmanovic's position to have and to hold. Walton has plenty of triangle experience, and Phil Jackson loves him, so Luke will get his playing time, nonetheless.

Biggest Strengths
Outside shooting, team play. Vlad is one of the better outside shooters in the NBA. Walton showed good touch from long range last season. Walton is also an incredibly selfless player whose decision-making skills have improved each season. Similarly, Radmanovic is not a selfish player. The SF position should be exciting to watch, should be counted on for scoring punch that has been lacking at the SF spot for several years in Los Angeles.

Biggest Weaknesses
Defense. Vlad (6-10, 234) is probably a competent defender, but little more. Phil Jackson himself has said that Luke (6-8, 232) is a defensive liability. Mo Evans (6-5, 220) will play SF a bit, but he is too small to benefit from his physical nature. Odom is locked in to that PF spot for the most part so his contributions defensively at the SF spot will be minimal.
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Postby trodgers on Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:00 am

Training Camp Follow-Up: Ins and Outs (Part 4)

As The Lakers wrap up the first week of training camp, the question on everyone's mind is, "Who will make the final roster?" Although it is early, a rough answer is beginning to take shape. With 20 players invited to camp and only 15 spots on the roster available, including the Developmental League players and other inactives, the Lakers are looking at dropping five players. What follows is a position-by-position analysis of who is most likely in, and who is going to be searching elsewhere for a job.

Power Forward
Four Power Forwards, all of them under 30, all of them have shown promise in the last year. Lamar Odom is entrenched at the PF spot, but a surprising crop of young players are pushing specialized skills as they vie for the remainder of the minutes, which could be significant as Odom deals with an offseason of adversity.

Lamar Odom: Odom returns after arguably his most successful season in the NBA. He then faced two horrific events during the offseason. The loss of his child and a robbery at gunpoint have put events into a new light for Odom. While good for the soul, tragedy is probably not good for basketball. At his best, Odom is a near triple-double player who can drive at will against nearly anyone. At his worst, Odom cannot hit his layups, makes careless decisions. At his usual self, Odom is a top 20 Forward in the NBA. He is LA's PF until he gives any indication that he is ill-prepared for that burden. Verdict: IN

Ronny Turiaf: At 23 years old, Turiaf is already a man of the world. His skill with languages, his college degree, and his extensive travels make him a rare sort in the NBA these days. His health problems and subsequent overcoming of that problem make him a rare human being. Turiaf showed a lot of potential after returning from heart surgery to garner serious playing time down the stretch. His tenacity on both ends of the court leads to a lot of blocks, free throw attempts, and, unfortunately, fouls. Turiaf gave every reason to believe that he was the Lakers most successful draft selection last season, but a hiccup with his heart while playing with his French team should give everyone a pause. Warrior or not, love of the game or not, if Turiaf's heart is not well, he will not play for the Lakers and should not play in the NBA period. Here's hoping he's healthy. It is scary to think what Ronny could do with a full, healthy season under his belt. Verdict: Probably IN

Brian Cook: Cook has developed one of the game's most deadly shooting strokes, as he exceeded 50% on FGs, 40% on threes, and 80% on FTs last season. While amazing, that was the extent of Cook's game, both offensively and defensively. He does not rebound, does not handle the ball well, and does not do much defensively. He is somewhat foulprone as well. Because of Cook's ability to add something new to his game, I'm not discounting a startling improvement. He claims to have dropped 15 pounds, looks significantly less pudgy than last season. Maybe that quickness will improve his defensive capacities. Verdict: Probably IN

Marcus Douthit: I do not root for a lot of underdogs, but just as I rooted for Devin Green last season, I'm rooting for Marcus Douthit this season. Douthit was drafted in 2004 by LA, but he has never played an NBA game. In fact, he has not suited up for one. Overseas play, DL play, and some SPL are all we have seen or heard from Douthit. He is a good rebounder, decent shotblocker, and a garbage man who hits short shots. He is turnover prone, too skinny (just 233 pounds on his 6-11 frame), however, to be a physical force underneath, and he doesn't block as many shots as he should. Douthit is likely out, and gone from LA. Verdict: Most Probably OUT

The PF Rotation
The top three will all see time at PF. We could even see Chris Mihm get in on the mix, but let's don't get ahead of ourselves. Odom will see the bulk of the minutes, with Phil Jackson choosing between Turiaf's defensive prowess and energy and Brian Cook's lethal offensive game to spell Odom. Turiaf will see plenty of minutes, as he was the most heavily-played Lakers rookie down the stretch last season.

Biggest Strengths
Versatility, in the truest sense. Odom provides offensive versatility: the ability to score, pass, dribble, and rebound like very few others in the NBA. Cook gives outside shooting the likes of which very few NBA PFs can boast. Turiaf lends heart, energy, and an investment of ego on the defensive end that is refreshing, so long has it been lacking in Los Angeles.

Biggest Weaknesses
One player to put it all together. Odom's defense at PF is somewhat questionable. Turiaf seems a bit raw still. Cook did not do an effective job defensively at all last season. Can the Lakers' chess master Phil Jackson put the correct pieces in the game at the ideal time to maximize skills, cover weaknesses?
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Postby trodgers on Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:21 am

Training Camp Follow-Up: Ins and Outs (Part 5)

As The Lakers wrap up the first week of training camp, the question on everyone's mind is, "Who will make the final roster?" Although it is early, a rough answer is beginning to take shape. With 20 players invited to camp and only 15 spots on the roster available, including the Developmental League players and other inactives, the Lakers are looking at dropping five players. What follows is a position-by-position analysis of who is most likely in, and who is going to be searching elsewhere for a job.

Centers
Two years removed from the trade of Shaquille O'Neal, could it be that Center is now the deepest position of quality players? Perhaps, but none of the Centers are at the elite level. Nonetheless, there is good reason to believe that the youngsters will see marked improvement over the next season.

Kwame Brown: Kwame got off to a rocky start, showing an inability to play on the court with Chris Mihm. Then Mihm suffered an injury and Kwame played some of the best basketball of his career. In April, Kwame averaged 12.8 points, 1.5 assists, and 8.6 rebounds on 57% shooting. He put up similar numbers in the playoffs as well. And Kwame's defense, at least one-on-one, was very good. Kwame enters camp looking perhaps 15 pounds heavier, cut, muscular. This is his position to lose, and I don't think he will. Verdict: IN

Andrew Bynum: What does one expect from an 18 year old (soon to be 19) Center? A lot of work to improve the inevitably raw game. That's precisely what Bynum has done. The physical transformation he has undergone in the past 15 months is remarkable. His play in the SPL at time delighted, at times frustrated onlookers. His 8 for 8 shooting performance (in one quarter!) last season likewise delighted fans. In short, Bynum has given every reason for guarded optimism. I expect him to see a significant jump in minutes played this season as Coach Phil Jackson begins to trust the gentle giant. Verdict: IN

Chris Mihm: Two years ago, Chris Mihm was the undisputed Center in Los Angeles. After some injuries and the emergence of Kwame and Bynum, Mihm is now a third stringer who may be forced to the PF spot or could even be cut loose if he cannot overcome lingering injuries. Mihm is a competent offensive player, good for 10 points, 6 rebounds on 50% shooting, but he commits too many fouls in attempting to block shots. Factor in his injury concerns (has missed the last 23 games, plus 7 playoff games) and his age (though just 28, he is considerably older than the other two Centers above him), and Mihm could be a surprise player who does not make the roster. Verdict: Probably IN

Mamadou N'Diaye: The oldest big on the team, N'Diaye is 31. He is also the smallest center (which is remarkable) at 7 feet, 255 pounds. In the six years since being drafted, N'Diaye has played in just 69 games, and has done little other than block shots. And older player who lacks veteran experience probably has little value for Los Angeles and Phil Jackson. If Mihm's injuries show any signs of clearing up, N'Diaye will have almost no chance of making the team. Verdict: Most Probably OUT

The C Rotation
Kwame, Mihm, and Bynum will all see minutes at the Center spot. In the game of today, with huge players pounding one another all game long, almost no one plays 30 minutes per game at the Center spot. In fact, only 12 players saw 2000 minutes of game time last season at Center. This means that there are opportunities. Kwame will be the starter, but Jackson will not be afraid to test Bynum with minutes. Mihm could probably see some starts given his vast experience in the NBA compared to Bynum.

Biggest Strengths
Defense! Kwame can guard one-on-one, Mihm and Bynum can both block shots. Mihm has good scoring punch, and Bynum shows promise in that regard. Finally, the Lakers have a very athletic 1-2 punch with Kwame and Bynum.

Biggest Weaknesses
Team defense and rebounding. Kwame does not do a good job of slowing penetration from other players. Mihm doesn't either. Bynum is untested, but showed promise in that regard. Despite size and athleticism, Kwame is only an average rebounder. Mihm is slightly better, which is surprising. Bynum has shown little in the NBA as a rebounder, and only solid rebounding skills in the SPL. All of the Centers need to play with more passion.
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