Hey LT, what the heck did we got for allowing Andrew Miller to get to the World Series with Cleveland? Good for him!
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D’Angelo Russell finished with 16 points, 9 assists (7 turnovers) & 3 rebounds last night. Here’s him after the game https://t.co/f2BNct92tq
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) October 20, 2016
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) October 20, 2016
— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) October 20, 2016
Five takeaways from the Lakers' 123-112 loss to the Golden State Warriors https://t.co/drjg0CrfK9
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) October 20, 2016
When is D’Lo gonna learn not to try to dribble between defenders? That’s how he commits a good number of his TOs … sure hope Coach Walton and his staff point that out to him.
GDUBinDC, mclyne32 (Director), Magic Phil, and 1 other are discussing. Toggle Comments
(1/4) Luke Walton is going to have to sacrifice some short term success in order to yield long term gains w/this young Laker team.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 19, 2016
(2/4) He could spread the floor & run a ton of High PnR for Russell &/or Horns, & that would probably be what made the team look best rn.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 19, 2016
(3/4) But having them run through sets…& the growing pains that come w/them…will result in a more versatile & productive offense long term.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 19, 2016
(4/4) Basically what I’m saying is, don’t be too concerned if the Lakers look confused from time to time early in the season. It'll pay off.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 19, 2016
GDUBinDC and Magic Phil are discussing. Toggle Comments
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) October 19, 2016
LOS ANGELES — This offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers made a $50 million investment in third-year guard Jordan Clarkson.
On Saturday, Clarkson made his first start of the preseason, scoring 15 points during a 112-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers will get a rematch against the Warriors on Wednesday, and head coach Luke Walton is still trying to decide on a role for Clarkson, be it off the bench as the team’s sixth man or in the starting backcourt next to point guard D’Angelo Russell.
“That’s something we’ll figure out—if we want to try it again next game,” Walton told reporters Monday. “As a staff, we’ll probably talk to him a little bit, see what he’s thinking, how he’s feeling and make that decision tomorrow.”
Clarkson has spoken highly of Walton, despite what might be perceived as a demotion to the team’s second unit after he started each of the 79 games he played last season. Walton has instead gone with veteran scorer Lou Williams in the team’s five other preseason contests, citing the chemistry developing between bench players such as Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Tarik Black and either Jose Calderon or Marcelo Huertas.
“It’s a good, active young group for the most part,” Walton said. “They’ve got some basketball IQ there where they help each other a lot. It’s too early to tell exactly what it is, but there’s definitely something to that group.”
Said Clarkson: “Coach is doing a good job of mixing up the lineups and trying to build chemistry. I think he’s doing a really good job.”
Acquired by the Lakers in a trade with the Washington Wizards, who drafted him with the 46th pick in 2014, Clarkson impressed as an offensive player through his first two seasons. But he criticized his own play after the Lakers’ 17-win debacle last year.
“I was horrible on the defensive end this year, to be honest with you. This summer, I’ve got to make strides,” Clarkson said in April.
Working with longtime trainer Drew Hanlen, founder of Pure Sweat, Clarkson dedicated his summer to improving on both sides of the ball. On Thursday, Hanlen detailed Clarkson’s summer regimen on the Hollywood Hoops podcast.
“We just watched the best defenders,” Hanlen said. “If you look at Kawhi Leonard, it’s not like he’s out there running around like crazy—he’s just always in the right spots…more so than anything, is just getting in the right mindset of, ‘Hey, listen, I’m not just going to go out there and get 20 points, but I’m going to stop that guy from getting 20 points.’
“[Clarkson] plays guard in the Western Conference. You’re talking about Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, James Harden, etc., etc. If you don’t bring it on the defensive end, you’re going to get torched on any given night.”
Walton has noticed a difference in Clarkson.
“We watch tape at our coach’s retreat, and they gave us the analytics on him defensively, and he was not good last year at defense. He was not good,” Walton said. “He’s been maybe our most consistent perimeter defender since the start of camp.”
Said Clarkson: “All defense is is taking angles, finding a spot where to cut somebody off, using your chest. Some of that stuff had to come in the weight room. I got stronger this summer. I just put in a lot of work.”
“A big part of defense—if you’re going to play it on every possession—is enjoying the idea of trying to get stops and trying to make it hard on your guy,” he said. “He’s a year older—who knows what it is, but he’s done a great job for us.”
Despite Clarkson’s growth as a player—and his substantial salary, which makes him the team’s third-highest-paid player—Walton may still opt to bring the 24-year-old guard off the bench. If so, Hanlen said Clarkson will use that as further motivation to improve.
“If he’s playing 35 minutes a night and it’s off the bench, I think he’s fine with that,” Hanlen said. “Obviously, there’s no way to beat around the bush—everyone would like to be a starter in the NBA.”
His message to Clarkson is simple: “Eventually be so good and be so valuable that there’s no other thing to do but get you back in that starting lineup.”
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) October 19, 2016
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) October 19, 2016
With opening night for the Los Angeles Lakers only a week away, Luke Walton and his staff will soon have to trim down their roster from 17 to 15 by releasing two more players. By most accounts, the battle for the final roster spot is between Yi Jianlian, Metta World Peace, and Thomas Robinson.
Each player brings something completely different to the table. World Peace is known for his defense, toughness, and brings veteran leadership. Yi is a stretch big man who has three-point range and has also shown the ability to rebound fairly well. Robinson brings constant energy and hustle and is a force on the boards as well as a solid defender.
Walton is undoubtedly in for a difficult decision and he has consistently praised all three of these players, but only one will claim that final spot.
So we asked our panel of experts which player they believe deserves the Lakers’ final roster spot. This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA): I’m finding it increasingly difficult to make a case for Yi Jianlian to secure the final spot on the roster for the Lakers. Yi has a unique skill set with his ability to stretch the defense as a seven-footer. However, Yi has yet to show that ability and also seems to be a step slower than anticipated regarding his quickness on the floor. With that being said, Yi must be one of the two cuts in my opinion.
Now it gets tough when it comes down to Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson. World Peace may not be the defensive stopper or offensive threat that he used to be. He’s 37 with no telling how much basketball he may have left in him. Although World Peace is no longer the player of old, he has the respect of the young players on the squad as well as his former teammate and now head coach, Luke Walton.
With World Peace, Walton and co. would be adding a player that would be making an impact more off the floor rather than on it. If World Peace still has a palpable presence in the locker room and if Walton finds values in that for this young squad, he’s the guy this team needs. If not, and the coaching staff wants a player to contribute when called upon, they’ve got to go with Robinson.
The journeyman hasn’t been able to find a team he’s been able to stay with long-term since coming into the league in 2012. Robinson has proved he can play and will do what is needed when his number is called.
At 25, this kid has a lot of basketball left in him and may be a valuable asset if they choose to retain him. The smart move is sticking with Robinson and parting ways with World Peace and Jianlian.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane): First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way: Metta World Peace is a Laker legend, and will forever hold a place in the hearts of Los Angeles fans. However, it’s tough to see him winning a spot on the team due to his declining play on the court and Luol Deng filling his role as a veteran mentor off of it. World Peace has done well working with the team’s young players, and a role as a special assistant would be ideal at this point.
The cuts it down to Yi Jianlian and Thomas Robinson for the last spot, and it’s a difficult choice to make. No question, as of this writing, Robinson has been the better player. He has proven to be a force in the paint, but he also somewhat duplicates Tarik Black’s skill set as a high-energy big who gets by on hustle.
Jianlian, on the other hand, has struggled with his shot in preseason and has looked particularly slow in all aspects of the game. He struggles with lateral movement, and even his release on his shot is at a snail’s pace, which allows defenders to close out on him in pick-and-pop situations, which should be his bread and butter.
That said, Yi may improve with a bit more time to adjust to the NBA, and as a stretch five, he gives the Lakers a different option in the middle. To cap it off, his non-guaranteed contract with escalating pay based on games played could be a very attractive trade chip. Robinson probably deserves the spot based on his play, but the 15th man on the roster isn’t likely to see many minutes anyway, so I would go with the guy most likely to be a trade asset, and that’s Yi.
Eric Avakian (@AvakEric): In my eyes, the final roster spot should go to Yi Jianlian. The China native had a strong showing during the 2016 Olympics (20.4 PPGs), posting the third highest scoring average amongst basketball players. Coming off of a triumphant summer, Jianlian will provide the Lakers more success than the other two options.
Firstly, Jianlian is at a prime point in his NBA career as opposed to Metta World Peace who has 16 years of experience and has dealt with his fair share of wear and tear. World Peace isn’t as agile as he once was and could present problems on the offensive end of the floor with his inconsistent shooting.
Thomas Robinson is a 2012 draft pick who has yet to get any footing in the NBA. This marks his sixth team in five NBA seasons, as the journeyman’s inexperience means a larger learning curve to adjust to Walton’s system. Jianlian has plenty of NBA experience on top of his recent involvement dominating the Chinese Basketball Association.
The key point for Jianlian earning a roster spot is his ability to do something no other Lakers player can. Jianlian fits the description of a “stretch-4” in the evolving game of the NBA. His ability to pick-and-pop, stretch the floor and knock down threes can’t be done by any other Lakers big man. I view Jianlian as a low-risk, high reward type of player, who has a greater ceiling than World Peace and Robinson at this point.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Based on what I’ve seen from him this preseason, Thomas Robinson has absolutely earned that final roster spot for the Lakers.
Even though he played better than expected last season, Metta World Peace’s biggest contributions still came off the floor as a mentor to the younger players. This season however, the wing spot is solidified with Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng, and the resurgent Nick Young, and the Lakers have other veterans in Deng, Timofey Mozgov, and Jose Calderon rendering World Peace unnecessary in my opinion.
Yi Jianlian has struggled mightily in the preseason so far, shooting only 30.8 percent from the field in his four appearances and just appearing a step slow overall. He is the one person who brings something no one else does as the big man who can stretch the floor, but he hasn’t stretched it and I worry about him being able to do anything else if his jumper isn’t falling.
Robinson on the other hand has the intangibles you just can’t teach. He is all energy, all the time and understands his role very well. He doesn’t play outside of his strengths on offense, as evidenced by his 71.4 percent field goal percentage, and his attitude and relentlessness on defense make him effective on that end as well.
I understand the worries with Robinson, namely that he is very similar to Tarik Black. I just feel like you can’t have too many players like Robinson on your roster. Someone like Robinson can make an impact on any game regardless of the style or how things are going and that is immeasurable.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand): I don’t think the Lakers can go wrong with who they give the final roster spot to, whether it’s Yi Jianlian, Metta World Peace or Thomas Robinson but I personally would go with Yi.
Yi has not gotten too many opportunities this preseason but he has the ability to do what no other Lakers big man can do and that’s space the floor and knock down outside shots. Robinson’s game resembles Tarik Black’s too much for him to make the team in my opinion, and if World Peace makes the team it’s for his veteran leadership, not his play on the court.
I think the Lakers should give Yi the roster spot, and if he does not perform then they have an excellent trade piece as his partially guaranteed contract is very movable.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 19, 2016
— NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2016
— LA Lakers (@lakerspress) October 19, 2016
Despite popular belief, Nick Young’s defensive prowess that he’s shown in preseason is nothing new. Can the Lakers embrace Swaggy D?
Over the last two seasons Nick Young has quietly made improvements on the defensive end of the court, but because of his offensive talents that portion of his game has often been overshadowed.
Unless you’re watching the Los Angeles Lakers play every game (not something most people did, unless you wanted to see tanking at its finest) it was hard to tell that he was becoming a better player on that end of the floor.
Nick Young’s role has always been to score the ball, but sometimes that can be a bad thing as his sole focus becomes relying on scoring to produce for the team.
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However, new head coach Luke Walton is bringing the same style that worked for with the Golden State Warriors to the Los Angeles Lakers, and that’s defending, playing at a high pace, and moving the ball.
So if Swaggy P is going to get his career back on track, Walton seems to be his best shot in doing that.
Already only six games into the preseason, and coach Luke Walton has been impressed with Swaggy’s defense.
“Obviously he’s going to make shots here or there,” Walton said. “But defensively, he’s fighting over screens, making one-on-one (stops) and getting in and mixing it up.”
Having a coach like Walton is really going to help Young and the younger players because he’s someone that can relate to them. And he’s also someone that is going to get the best out of them with his defensive approach, and allowing them to play with more freedom offensively as long as they play hard on the less glamorous end of the floor.
Last year, despite not getting consistent playing time Nick Young was one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the league giving up only 0.64 points per possession to ball-handlers, placing him in the 90.6 percentile.
In post up situations, he also faired well holding opponents to 0.70 points per possession, putting him in the 84.7 percentile.
Moreover, the Lakers had a defensive rating of 108.5 (not great, but the Lakers were terrible in general) when he was on the court, compared to 109.6 when he sat.
Believe it or not, his efforts on that end even got him a complement out of then head coach Byron Scott (For those that know B. Scott, he doesn’t complement players usually, instead he more or less throws them under the bus.)
Scott said Nick Young "did all the little things" defensively tonight, a reason he stayed on the floor in crunch time.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 16, 2015
Now this isn’t to say Nick Young is some sort of defensive savant. But it does show that he has been giving more effort on that end of the floor and it shouldn’t go unnoticed. His shooting is going to be a contributor in getting himself minutes this season, but ultimately defense is what the coaching staff wants to from him.
Must Read: Why The Utah Jazz Will Not Make The Playoffs In 2016-17
Swaggy P has shown himself to be a fine shooter when given the minutes, so now it’s about showing consistent effort on the other end of the court. If he can do just that, the upcoming season will be one of redemption for him and the Los Angeles Lakers