@NBA4ever & GDUB – OK, this Warriors/Pelicans game IS more interesting than baseball. (tip o’the cap)
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Jimmy Butler seems to be the real deal! I know he’s a RFA. How does that work anyway? Thanks!
Congrats to LouWill on winning 6th man of the year. Pay that man his money.
mclyne32 (Director) and therealhtj are discussing. Toggle Comments
I often wonder what folks think the commissioner’s job actually is?
He doesn’t represent the players…for damm sure doesn’t rep the fans.
He’s employed by the owners to do their bidding and keep their pockets full. It’s a pretty brilliant scheme…trot this funny looking mf’er out in public to take all the criticism while you sit safely behind the curtain counting your money. As long as the profits are good, he’s doing his job to perfection. That’s why Goodell is still riding high even after all the public humiliation last off-season; the NFL profits still went up. Folks hated Stern but the league (which is just a euphemism for The Owners) made unprecedented money during his tenure. As for Silver, attendance saw it’s biggest jump in nearly 2 decades this past season in his 1st full year in office.
Wow. That was the worst opening weekend of NBA basketball I’ve ever seen. So much for small-market team success bringing NBA excellence. Totally unwatchable… Maybe this will change when we get a commisioner.
BY DAVID MURPHY FOR THE BLEACHER REPORTJae C. Hong/Associated Press
Some of the takeaways from the Los Angeles Lakers’ recently concluded 2014-15 campaign are painfully obvious.
The prime example is a season that went from bad to worse, beginning with an unfathomable number of injuries and ending with the team’s worst record in franchise history at 21-61.
There are also impressions offering glimpses of hope, while still others point to areas where a strategic shift could pay dividends.
But one thing is certain: For a proud organization that has ebbed ever further from its glory days, change is not only welcome, it is an imperative.
The youth movement is here to stayRick Bowmer/Associated Press
There are only four Lakers with guaranteed contracts. Kobe Bryant will be 37 when he returns next season after a long injury layoff, while Nick Young will be 30 when training camp rolls around.
And then things start skewing younger. Julius Randle will return at age 20 after missing all but 14 minutes of his rookie season with a broken leg, while Ryan Kelly, 24, will be back for his third NBA campaign.
Meanwhile, management is sure to pick up the option on 22-year-old Jordan Clarkson, the rookie point guard out of Missouri who started 38 games this season. After his exit interview, the second-round wunderkind talked about his motivation and desire for continued improvement.
“I’m not satisfied with what I did this year,” said Clarkson, per Lakers.com. “I’m just trying to come back and be better, for sure.”
Byron Scott mentioned Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black and Ed Davis as "young guys" he liked this season
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 16, 2015
The Lakers also have options on two undrafted rookies who performed well—big man Tarik Black, 23, and shooting guard Jabari Brown, 22, who was Clarkson’s fellow backcourt starter at Mizzou.
Plus there is Ed Davis, who, at 25, had his best year yet in the NBA. The energetic power forward will opt out of his $1.1 million option but would like to re-sign for the long term.
”This is where I want to be,” Davis said after his exit interview, per Lakers.com. “Hopefully I’m back next year.” The Lakers also have the potential of three draft picks, as well as significant cap room during free agency. But given the rebuilding movement, it seems unlikely the team will load up on expensive veterans with short shelf lives.
“You work hard to create a future,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday per Lakers.com. “Whether it’s with draft picks or the opportunity to make a trade or free-agent dollars. And you don’t want to give it away just because you have it.”
The need for an offensive coordinatorDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press
Byron Scott was once a member of the Showtime Lakers—a team known for its fast-break offense. But after taking over as head coach in L.A., he installed a hybrid Princeton offense with a slow, deliberate pace.
The new Lakers coach is also big on defensive responsibility and hired like-minded assistants—Paul Pressey, Jim Eyen and Mark Madsen. But the overall lack of creativity starts at the top, and Scott’s rigid style stands in stark contrast to those who are willing to expand the playbook.
A case in point is a certain rookie coach who has surpassed all expectations.
When Steve Kerr was hired by the Golden State Warriors, many wondered if he would use the triangle system he learned as a player under Phil Jackson. Kerr quickly hired fellow Jackson disciple Luke Walton as an assistant and associate head coach Alvin Gentry, who has often used elements of the Princeton offense. Kerr also hired Ron Adams, known for his defensive schemes.
But the self-effacing Kerr was also hiring bright individuals who didn’t necessarily feel compelled to fall in lockstep. And, he approached his job with a forward-thinking philosophy and encyclopedic knowledge of the game. Those qualities were present at his first job interview with the Warriors, as explained by Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated:
First was the Power Point presentation, which by then ran 16 pages. It began with a section titled “Why I’m Ready To Be A Head Coach” and included segments on leadership, relationships, analytics and everything from dress code to dieticians to yoga instructors to sleep specialists. Kerr also included detailed thoughts on Warriors players, including potential rotation changes.
Scott’s rotations this season can be largely chalked up to injuries and the need to develop prospects. But when it comes to matters such as analytics, the veteran coach is clearly mired in the past. Asked about the data-rich methodology, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register, Scott replied: “I think we’ve got a few guys who believe in it. I’m not one of them.”
I legitimately feel like Byron Scott could walk into a comedy club, discuss his basketball philosophy, and have the entire audience rollin.
— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) April 16, 2015
Whatever strategies a coach uses, there should also be a willingness to be flexible. Some of the players’ best moments this season came when they were given a modicum of freedom, using drag screens in transition to create early offense opportunities and sprinkling in pick-and-roll actions. But Scott’s not a big fan of pick-and-roll, describing it, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, as: “Everybody is stationary and it’s easy to guard.” For whatever specifics one wants to point to, one thing is certain—Scott needs a more innovative voice on the bench and also has to be willing to listen.
Lakers have an on-floor leadership vacuumJae C. Hong/Associated Press
With Steve Nash out for the season and Bryant missing all but 35 games, it soon became apparent that the team lacked the on-court leadership necessary to seal the deal. Yes, the Lakers were in a number of close fourth-quarter situations, but they didn’t have the ammunition to prevail.
This summer, management has to sign a player with the type of on-floor leadership needed in crucial game moments.
These are the additions that are the hardest to come by, whether through free agency or a trade. The Lakers may find themselves looking at other teams who also didn’t make the playoffs—losing organizations can sometimes be the most willing trade partners.
Mitch Kupchak: "It can get better quickly. We can be in the hunt quickly."
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 16, 2015
The Lakers have had too many injuries in recent years and have lost far too many games. Management has rolled through coaches and has yet to find anyone who can establish a cohesive voice and vision.
From the hope that young and relatively untested young players will blossom into true stars, to the need for additional leadership on-court and along the sideline, this much is obvious—change must come.
And that is the biggest takeaway from a season that trended in the wrong direction from the very start.
The consequences of losing seasons and poor past decisions are looming large.
The Lakers have to get up off the mat and get things right this summer.
BY ETHAN SKOLNICK FOR THE BLEACHER REPORT
CLEVELAND — Kevin Love declined an interview for this story.
This may seem an odd way for an article to open, since that’s the sort of sentence that’s typically stuck somewhere deep in the belly of a piece, a parenthetical aside meant to explain what seems a glaring oversight: the author’s inability to include the profile subject’s point of view. But in this case, it feels proper to get it out there early, not with the slightest bit of scorn or spite, but because his acceptance—through a Cavaliers’ spokesman—actually wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of sense. It simply wouldn’t square with his reticence to reveal much about himself since coming to the Cavaliers.
Since that trade, one strongly endorsed if not orchestrated by LeBron James, the former franchise face of the Timberwolves has had quite the bumpy ride, whether standing out on the fringe of the Cavaliers’ offense or sitting in the center of a media storm—subjected to an army of word-parsers, pop psychologists and character caricaturists. Love, who spoke on the first day of training camp of the need to “keep the circle tight” amid the prying outsider eyes, hasn’t hid his contempt for the circus that since has come. It’s been apparent to everyone regularly around the team, as his eyes have burned holes in locker room carpets from coast to coast, rarely raised to fully acknowledge the many queries—concerning touches or shots or Twitter accounts—that he considers ridiculous.
“He’s shut down to the media,” one long-time acquaintance said.
“It’s beyond just the media,” another close observer said. “He’s incredibly guarded.”
So there was little shot that the 26-year-old power forward would open up as the playoffs did, not to a stranger, and not after one of his braver forays into the public square—on behalf of a “Built with Chocolate Milk” campaign—backfired badly when he strayed from a careful string of bland cliches. When he said during his radio tour that he was “not best friends” with James and would vote for former UCLA teammate Russell Westbrook as NBA MVP, it fueled enough “hot takes” to melt a decade of Ohio snow. Naturally, there’s no need, with so much serious basketball ahead, starting with his playoff debut Sunday against the Boston Celtics, to fan any additional flames.
But here’s the thing about the postseason:
It cares not how little you’d like to reveal about yourself.
“The playoffs expose you,” one NBA veteran said. “For better or worse. Some guys can handle it, some can’t. So we’ll see.”
The urgency. The intensity. The press. The pressure. The glory. And, inevitably, for just about everyone, but particularly those in his position—third option on a team with championship aspirations—the blame.
What will we learn about Kevin Love?
BY JOSEPH ZUCKER FOR THE BLEACHER REPORT
The NBA salary cap is expected to increase drastically in the very near future, which will have league-wide implications.
DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony reported the rough estimates for the salary cap in the years ahead:
New salary cap projections sent out to NBA teams: 2015-16: 67.1 million, tax 81.6, 2016-17: 89 million, tax 108. 2017-18: 108, 127 tax
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 17, 2015
Further projections sent out: 2018-19: 100 million salary cap, 121 tax , 2019-20: 102 salary cap, 124 tax, 2020-2021:107 salary cap, 130 tax
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 17, 2015
The huge jump from 2015-16 to 2016-17 was expected after the NBA Players Association decided against a smoothing of the cap, which would have spread out the salary-cap increases over several years.
Instead, salaries will see a massive spike once the 2016 offseason arrives, the impact of which will be felt across the league.
NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin believes teams might be more willing to pay above market value this summer with an eye toward future cap figures.
In addition, more players might be willing to follow the lead of LeBron James, who eschewed a long-term deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason. He opted for a shorter deal that will allow him to make more money down the road.
As it stands now, the maximum salary for an NBA player is a tad over $20 million, per Larry Coon. There are a few exceptions, most notably Kobe Bryant, who will make $25 million in 2015-16 and $26.25 million in 2016-17.
Since a player is allowed to command anywhere from 25 percent to 35 percent—depending on how much time he has spent in the league—ESPN.com’s Marc Stein sees a future in which some stars earn upwards of $30 million a year:
Max salaries will routinely cross the $30 million threshold annually once NBA life begins with a salary cap that strays beyond $100 million
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 17, 2015
Suddenly, teams that might not have had cap flexibility otherwise will have more money to pursue another marquee free agent, while teams that have money coming off the books could be able to sign two or even three big names in one summer.
Clippers have a chance to show they’re for real instead of chokers.
Home court should be an advantage. They need big game tonight.
If they can’t beat the Spurs tonight, it’s going to be a short series.
Grizz have opened up a serious can of u-know-what on the Blazers tonight.
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Live look-in at Hawks-Nets. (The Nets are the rabbit.) pic.twitter.com/QFeHoLEfOS
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) April 19, 2015
Hawks 10 assists 2 turnovers, Nets 1 assist 8 turnovers. #NBA
— InsideHoops.com NBA (@InsideHoops) April 19, 2015
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Pero Antic has one of the highest IQ’s in the NBA.
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BY LAKERTOM FOR LAKERHOLICS.NET
How many times have you heard or read that the Lakers need to “embrace analytics?” The good news is the recent comments by head coach Byron Scott and startling transformation of last year’s first round pick Julius Randle from pudgy to svelte may be indications that the Lakers are finally embracing analytics.
There’s no term in professional basketball today more controversial, polarizing, and misunderstood than analytics. Its most devoted disciples use it run every aspect of their basketball operations both on and off court, including style of play and team culture, player selection and development, and in game strategy. Its most avid detractors write it off as meaningless statistical noise from stat geeks who never played the game and don’t understand the importance of the intangibles like heart, character, and situation.
So what is analytics and what should the Lakers be doing to embrace it? At its simplest, sports analytics is the use of statistical data to make better decisions. It’s not a substitute for the human eye and judgment but rather another tool that can provide a broader base and more information for better decision making. As such, it doesn’t replace but rather enhances the human element in order to make better decisions.
While the Laker have never been in the forefront of the analytics movement that is taking over the NBA, there’s never been a better time and place for them to finally and fully embrace analytics as they embark upon a complete rebuilding of the team and its identity in the wake of Dr. Buss’ death and the impending retirement of their great superstar Kobe Bryant, the iconic face of the franchise for the last 20 years.
So what should the Lakers be doing to embrace analytics? First, they need to fundamentally change their vision of the kind of team they want to build, style of basketball they want to play, and type of player they want to acquire to reflect the core principles of the analytics movement, which means running an offense designed to get and a defense designed to prevent high percentage 3-point shots, layups, or free throws.
The recent comments by Byron Scott that he is going to have to “have to make adjustments on both end of the floor” and “change some of my philosophies on the offensive and defensive ends” is a crystal clear message the Lakers front office has finally decided to embrace analytics and has let their head coach know that he must adjust his personal philosophies and attitude accordingly if he wants to be the coach.
What this means is the Lakers will be replacing Byron Scott’s old school inside-out half-court offense designed to create low percentage 2-point jump shots with a modern outside-in spread offense designed to create high percentage 3-pointers, layups, and free throws. The Lakers will also revamp their defensive game plan to prevent 3-point shots, layups, and free throws and force teams to take 2-point shots.
The second thing the Lakers need is players who fit the mold of the type of team they want to build. That means finding players who on offense can shoot the 3 and take advantage of the space created to attack the rim and get layups or free throws. It means finding defenders who can protect the rim, challenge and chase shooters behind the 3-point line, and play aggressive individual and team defense without fouling.
Building an analytics driven basketball team is about more than finding a stretch 4. It’s about prioritizing scarce cap dollars to cover the above basics. The only way to do that today is with multi-dimensional players who can to contribute in multiple areas, have an impact at both ends of the floor, and can play and defend multiple positions. That’s why the focus on 2-way players and new stats like PER & EFF.
While you need 3-point shooters, you also need perimeter defenders with size, length, and quickness to help and still be able to challenge or chase 3-point shooters. While you need guys who can attack the rim, you also need defenders who can block and alter shots to protect the rim. Finally, you want offensive players who can draw and make free throws and defensive players who can defend without fouling.
What does an analytics approach say about the players the Lakers should be pursuing in the draft and free agency? It says you want a center who can score and defend both pick-and-pops well as pick-and-rolls. It also says you want a center who can draw and make his free throws while protecting the rim without getting into foul trouble. To me, that says Karl-Anthony Towns in the draft or Marc Gasol in free agency.
While an elite midrange jump shooter like LaMarcus Aldridge can still work in an analytics driven offense, having a true stretch 4 is the best way to ensure the optimal spacing to create lanes for drivers and cutters to get easy layups or draw fouls on opposing teams’ bigs. Nothing helps spread the floor than having 4 players who can shoot a high percentage on 3’s. It’s why Kevin Love is the perfect fit for the Lakers.
Analytics says you want a point guard who knows how to push the ball in transition and run pick-and-rolls. He also needs to be able to shoot the 3 at a high percentage and get to the rim off the dribble to score, dish, or go to the line. The point guard also needs to have the size, quickness and length to rebound the ball well and stay with opposing point guards and force them into low percentage midrange jumpers. To me, that says D’Angelo Russell over Mudiay in the draft or Goran Dragic over Rondo in free agency.
Shooting guards and small forwards need to be 3-and-D players who can spread the floor with the 3-point shot or attack the rim. They need to have the requisite size, length, and quickness to be able to switch on screens and defend multiple positions. Their goal in an analytics driven basketball scheme is to spread the floor and create space on offense and defend perimeter penetration and the 3-point line on defense. That’s why you take Winslow over Johnson in the draft or Draymond Green or Carroll over Harris in free agency.
Does that mean the Lakers should not draft a center like Okafor if they get a chance because he is not a great rim protector? Or Cauley-Stein because he can’t make his free throws? Or Mudiay because he is not a great 3-point shooter? Or Winslow because he is not yet a polished 3-point shooter? Not necessarily. Okafor’s offense, Cauley-Stein’s or Winslow’s defense, or Mudiay’s playmaking could be so good that they compensate for the weaknesses and force the team to fill that need with other players on the roster.
Bottom line, building an analytics driven team is not about any one player but the entire roster having the collective skillset to play the style of smart game that optimizes making and preventing high percentage 3-point shots, layups, and free throws. You might have a midrange jump shooter at the 4 is so good you don’t need a stretch 4 or a dynamic scorer and distributor at the 1 so good you don’t him to shoot 3’s. There are many different ways to put together a smart team that takes advantage of analytics.
Using analytics to help define the kind of team you want to build and players you want to acquire is just the start. Once you’ve embraced analytics, you suddenly have a wealth of stats that can measure just how effective the team and each individual player are in making the correct decisions on offense and defense to maximized their own and minimize their opponents’ 3-pointers, layups, and free throws.
The league’s new missile tracking cameras silently track every move of every player on every play in every game. They can tell the coaching staff exactly what players are doing wrong and exactly what things need correcting to improve offensive and defensive efficiency. Coaches still have to get players to buy in on becoming better but it’s an easier job to sell with detailed video evidence of what needs to be correct.
Lakers fans should be relieved and encouraged at the recent events that indicate the Lakers are finally embracing analytics. Not only can we look forward to a more progressive and modern approach on both ends of the court next season but we also look forward to the front office and coaching staff finally being on the same page. This may actually be more important than whether we keep our top five pick.
I wonder if Olynyk is the reason they played that lil snippet by Grand Funk Railroad heading into the commercial break cuz he reminds me of their lead guitarist/vocalist Mark Farner with that headband and the long mane. : )
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As an analyst, I don't care where rondo ends up. As a #hatehard enthusiast, I pray with every bone in my body Lakers back up a brinks truck
— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) April 19, 2015