On Kwame Brown and Panic Buttons
Much of the traffic on this site has been devoted to the play of Kwame Brown. Specifically, slagging the play of Kwame Brown.
Pick a negative adjective to describe his performance through four games- confused, hesitant, passive, uninspired, weak (before you let your vocabulary run wild, remember this is a family website) and it'll probably apply. He has, in short, been terrible. Last night in Atlanta, he managed to grab more rebounds than personal fouls... only barely (5 to 4). Toss in 3 turnovers and only 4 points, and it wasn't a banner night.
He's averaging under 5 boards and over 3 turnovers a game. He looks lost in the offense, at least a step behind everyone on the floor, and can't stay out of foul trouble. That's bad. Very bad. It's reason to worry, let a little sweat form on the brow, and locate then dust off the panic button. But don't hit it just yet.
Why? Two big reasons. The first is time. The Lakers have only played four games. And while Brown has shown nothing yet that would indicate he will become the solid (have we given up on dominant?) power forward many hope he could be, that doesn't mean it won't come with time. Jackson's system is complicated. Nobody picks it up overnight. It's not fair to call him a bust four games into an 82 game season. Twenty, twenty-five, maybe. Even then, that would give him more than 50 games to rehab his rep. He is currently playing horrible basketball, but it's premature to say that he'll never play well (based on his track record in Washington, I'm not holding my breath, but I'm trying to be open minded about all of this). It's a question of progress, and whether or not he's making any.
The second? The Lakers don't have many alternatives. It's not like they can trade their spare parts to pick up a frontline power forward. Brown himself has no value on the market until his play improves, in which case it becomes unnecessary to move him. Their single greatest tradeable asset- aside from Kobe- is Lamar Odom, and it would take a very tempting offer for me to ship him off. Plus, the team is working hard to avoid bringing in salary that goes beyond next season. Milwaukee's Dan Gadzuric could be had, but at 6 years and $36 million, he's not the kind of player the Lakers are looking for. The only bodies behind Brown are Slava Medvedenko and Andrew Bynum.
That means Brown stays, probably in the starting lineup, for a while. Hopefully, he stops picking up early fouls. Hopefully, he starts crashing the boards with authority (if he can stay on the floor and average around 10 rpg, it doesn't really matter how much he scores).
But just in case, make sure you know where to find that panic button.