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Category: '08 Report Card

Report Cards: DJ Mbenga, Chris Mihm

Both were seldom used big men: Might as well group them together and conserve the Internet's version of paper, right? 

Mihm_chris_lakers_d_2 We'll start with Chris Mihm, for whom I debated simply linking last season's report card and calling it a day.  He may have stepped on the court this year, but the end result was basically 2007's story.  A nasty 2006 ankle/foot injury preventing headway into regaining his old form.  Mihm began the season active (if not always effective) and notched a few decent starts while Kwame Brown was hurt and Andrew Bynum was still a bench mobber. Then came yet another surgery required (this time to remove a screw from his heel), and he was never in rhythm during subsequent rare court appearances (most recently demonstrated in three disastrous minutes against the Celts).

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Report Card - Ira Newble

As mentioned earlier, the grade criteria comes in large part by impact on the season.  A search using two different engines produced the photo below (and a small handful more, tops) of Ira Newble on the court in a Laker uni. Newble_1_2 That basically summarizes his affect on 2008's outcome.  As for why  he couldn't get on the court, I can't say for certain.  On one hand, Newble was simply an acknowledged insurance policy if Trevor Ariza was out for the season.  Yes, Ariza didn't return until late into the playoffs, but the team was also winning, so an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" outlook is pretty easily justified.  Especially with a player who isn't much on the offensive end and a team whose defensive prowess is often heavily influenced by its offensive execution.  Of course, Phil Jackson was also reluctant to play 2006 late addition Jim Jackson, so detractors might cite a pattern.  But unlike JJ's scenario, which involved a weaker team and a more pressing need, I don't find Newble's lack of PT particularly odd.  Could Jackson have given him a bigger go, especially with SF the team's weakest position?  I guess, but I doubt it would have mattered, and I'm not going to make a stink out of not making a move I feel would have bore no consequences.

It should be said, however, that Newble's a terrific person, great to shoot the breeze with and blessed with an outstanding social awareness.  With that in mind, I'll balance his low grade by providing this Darfur PSA involving him and several other Lakers.  Newble was possibly the first NBA athlete to turn his attention to this overseas atrocity and being on the high profile Lakers only increased awareness of that involvement.  His season in L.A. may not have amounted to much, but I have a lot of respect for the guy.

Final Grade: F/Inc.

AK

Report Card - Coby Karl

It's that time again!  That series of posts recapping a player's performance.  Lakers Blog report cards are a tradition dating as far back as 2006 (which naturally means they surfaced in 2007 as well).  Remember, the grade isn't based purely on stats and/or production.  It's also about the player's impact on the season, which is important to remember with certain dudes.  Like the one kicking off this year's batch... 

Karl_3_2Report Card:
I'll start with the season's highlight for Coby Karl: A March 12th game at Staples against Toronto, where Phil Jackson inserted the rook for seven second quarter minutes as a not-so-subtle message to his other guards (the message being, "Ya wanna maybe stop playing so crappy?").  But even taking into account his usage as a self-described "pawn," Karl responded with some very productive court time.  And with those seven minutes relived, there's not much to much else of consequence to dwell on, unless you happened to live and die by D-Fenders results.  Even by rookie standards, Karl didn't get much run.  But his occasional garbage time made him a fan favorite (a "mascot" status he appreciated, but wasn't necessarily wild about) and occasionally flashed glimpses into why the Lakers decided to guarantee his contract in January and keep him around.  He's also a hard worker with a good attitude.  It's no lock that Karl will be back next season, but of all the free agents that barely played (Karl, Ira Newble and DJ Mbenga), he's the only one I think has any chance of being on the 2009 roster.  And if he's not, it won't be for a lack of conditioning.  As we established many time this season, dude would have been the top candidate to represent the Lakers in a marathon.  For reals.

Final Grade: D-/Inc. (His actual impact merited an "F," but he got bumped up a grade for being classy enough to provide Mom with an exclusive interview.  What can I say?  I'm a softy when it comes to mama). 

AK

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