Report Card Time!
Here at Lakers Blog, we like to think of ourselves as a place to go to educate yourself on what's happening in Purpleandgoldland. A school of sorts (stick with us, we promise the metaphor has a point). And what do they give out at school? You know, aside from steady doses of angst and humiliation (Or at least that's how it was for BK).
That's right. Grades.
So with that in mind, it's time for the First Annual Lakers Blog Midseason Player Report Card (FALBMPRC for short). We'll both be giving each player on the roster a grade, A-F, including Incompletes.
Will guys be posting theirs on the fridge, or stealing them from the mailbox before their parents get home from work (an AK high school specialty)?
Going alphabetically (and without any of this grading on a curve crap. C means average)...
BK- I'm trying to make this evaluation based less on my hopes and dreams, or the fact he was a former #1. Just on court performance. Had we done this a month ago, he'd have been lower. Now, at least, he's shown a consistently solid low post presence on the defensive end, and is more often staying active on the boards. But he still looks lost sometimes in team D, and lord is he a wreck on the offensive end. C-.
AK- Ironic to be giving Kwame a mid-term grade of sorts, considering how desperately obvious it is that he needed a year or two of college. But I digress. Ever since coming back from that injury, he's looked more promising, providing the team's best interior D and hitting the glass hard. Unfortunately, any move requiring more than one dribble is asking for trouble, and I can't recall a player with his hands up and ready less. There may be nobody in the league more unsuited to play with Steve Nash. To say the least, a work in progress. C-.
BK- All controversy aside, he's had an MVP caliber first half. Is he infallible? No. Does he need to remain mindful of his shot selection? Yes. Is he the easiest teammate in the world to play with? Probably not. But still, he's damn near the best player in the NBA. A.
AK- Kind of a ho-hum season, but let me see if I can think of any highlights. There are qualities I wish Kobe would embrace: Giving his teammates a slightly longer leash. Opening up more, if for no other reason than it would make his own life easier, which in turn makes life for his teammates and franchise easier. I'm hopeful that recent developments (a better relationship with PJ, burying the hatchet with Shaq, having kids, etc.) will help. But either way, there's much more that I wouldn't change. Simply put, he's a sick player having an even sicker season. A.
BK- It's tough to grade on pure potential, but considering he wasn't yet of drafting age when he was drafted, I'd say Bynum has done well. He has great instincts, the makings of a nice offensive game, and as he showed against Shaq, he's not a pushover. Toss in his solid work habits, and he's done well. Loses marks for a smaller on court contribution (hey, this is the NBA, not high school). B-.
AK- Love this kid. I really think Kupchak rolled the dice and came up 7 on Bynum. He has a feel for the game that can't be taught. Meanwhile, the skills can be learned, and by all accounts, he's dying to figure them out. He's got a way to go, but he's also 18, which means he's got plenty of time. He's played fleetingly, so the mostly good efforts only boost his grade so much. But considering people were talking D-League when the season began, I can't dock him too much, either. B.
BK- Call him the anti-Kwame. His early season marks were much better than now. Lately, he's been lost in the shuffle. I love that he's become more decisive with his shot, is moving closer to the basket again, and has shown a willingness to take charges. Still, he's not all that quick on the defensive end, and for whatever reason, hasn't been able to capitalize on the momentum he created in the season's first month. C.
AK- I also love that Cook doesn't eff around when he gets the ball. And while it's hurt Team "Isaiah Rider" that he no longer camps out behind the arc, it's made him more effective. Unfortunately, he's still pretty one-dimensional and a liability on D, which I imagine is why he's lost so much time as of late. He works hard and does whatever's asked to the best of his ability, so I'm holding out hope he'll fight his way back in. C+.
BK- Not the problem, not the solution, and probably not long for the roster. It's not that Devean isn't a good player. He is. It's just that about half the league could do what he does. Good defensively, but his shooting is down this year, as is his scoring. C.
AK- So little consistency. Or total consistency, depending on how you view it. His scoring has always gone up and down, rounding out to around 6-8 ppg (like now). He also plays consistently good D that's consistently overlooked because he's not worth an entire mid-level exception and thus consistently branded a disappointment. But his game is his game. It ain't bad, but may never be great, either. C+.
BK- Gets points for making the team. Hard to say he's done much else. Has spent less than 10 minutes on the court since Christmas. Still, he showed some promise in his more active early season stints. Not much of a scorer, but plays hard and has some defensive energy. D+/Inc.
AK- I imagine he carries a veteran's luggage with the best of them. As far as his actual game, who knows? He's fast and works hard when he does play. Or at least that's my vague recollection. D/Inc.
BK- To say he's been "disappointing" is to say a gang of angry grizzly bears is "dangerous." A serious understatement. In the 10 games he played before getting hurt, McKie averaged .3 ppg. .3. You and I could probably manage that. Still time to turn it around, and the Lakers will need him to provide leadership and depth in the playoff drive. D-/Inc.
AK- Before the season began, I insisted to Mike Bresnahan that McKie would be a better pick up than Derek Anderson. As is the case with most things, I had no freakin' clue what I was talking about. F/Inc.
BK- I miss him. I really do. Fortunately, he's been reinvented as a backcourt player by the name of Von Wafer. But honestly, despite his defensive shortcomings, the Lakers could use his offense. F/Inc.
AK- I'm with BK. I totally miss Slava. He was often L.A.'s best source of unintentional comedy this side of Robert Downey Jr.'s drug escapades. And all kidding aside, the Lakers miss him, too. Forget the fact that he can't guard a stationary bike and Ronny Turiaf already knows the triangle better. The one thing this team needs is a guy that'll put the ball up, no questions asked. Slava will do that. And often does it well. F/Inc.
BK- Fouls, fouls, fouls. Take them away, and Mihm could be one of the league's nicest surprises. As it is, he's developed a more complete offensive game, grabs some boards here and there, and fits into the system nicely. Shooting nearly 52%, and if he could stay on the floor more, he could average 12-15 ppg. Like I said, fouls, fouls, fouls. B-
AK- The most underrated member of this team. He ain't Shaq, but you can do a lot worse. He's actually put up career numbers since arriving in L.A. Unfortunately, he and the refs just don't see eye to eye when it comes to the rules, which keeps him pine-bound. Hopefully, a middle ground can be discovered. B.
BK- Yikes, this is tough. He's rebounded the ball well all season, and generally has been a solid facilitator. But he is still prone to fits of unaggressive play and general inactivity, and yes, on this team at least he needs to assert himself more offensively. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone. But his style of play helps Kobe be Kobe, so it's not all bad. Frustrating at times, yes. Bad, no. B.
AK- Like BK, not quite sure how to approach this one. LO's doing a very good job playing "his game," which is what the team's asking of him. Unfortunately, he's doing an erratic job playing the opposite of "his game," which is also what the team's asking of him. 14,9 and 6 is way too good to be down on. But given the team's makeup, it's also not enough to go nuts over. B.
BK- Great start to the year, a swoon in the middle, and he's come back strong since. A great find for the Lakers. Overall, I'm not convinced he'll develop into an elite point guard, but he's been very solid, and considering where the Lakers got him (the giant scrap heap of hoops), he's been a gift. Very opportunistic defender, but can be used one on one. He has helped the Lakers to some monster first quarters. Hopefully, it just keeps getting better. B.
AK- The guy went from out of the league to starting on a playoff contending team. That alone would merit Smush a C+ even he played like absolute garbage. Fortunately, he's actually acquitted himself well, for the most part. I'd like to think he'll keep improving, but he's already brought more to the table than could have been reasonably expected. Extra points for driving a Smushcalade and providing Mom with her favorite Laker since Horry. B.
BK- That he's even on this list is amazing. Inc.
AK- His story rates an A+. His actual contributions rate an Inc.
BK- I think he's shown some serious improvement, at least in spurts. He's shown a greater willingness to play aggressive defense and use his length to his advantage, is learning to occasionally head to the rim, and has shown a willingness to take, and even sometimes make, the big shot. Still, for him to be successful, he'll have to improve on his shooting percentages. The kid can stroke. Or at least it looks like he can. If his four ppg. become 6.5 over the rest of the season, I'll be happy. C.
AK- Honestly, I have no idea what to make of Sasha. He's a pesky, annoying defender who's managed to get under the skin of A.I. and Bibby, among others. Unfortunately, "pesky" and "annoying" don't equal "quick," so he's often used, too. And while he's not afraid to shoot, he's not always so hot at making them. But he's improved. The guy's only played about a season's worth of NBA ball, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, if not the grade. C.
BK- Love him. I wish he played more. Why? Because he makes the game fun. The guy will shoot from anywhere. That big dunk against Memphis (it was Memphis, right?) was one for the season ending highlight tape. Sure he's shooting under 20% from the field, but hey, we're all human. D+/Inc.
AK- Very few things in life shock me. Von's 16.7% from the field? That shocks me. If he had been manning the grassy knoll, JFK would still be alive. That being said, kid's got balls and ain't afraid to chuck. And being one of the only athletic looking guys on this squad, I could see his time coming. Just not this season. D/Inc.
BK- In my mind, the most disappointing player on the roster. For every solid, smooth play he makes, he seems to compensate with a turnover. He's upped his scoring this year, but is actually shooting well below his career percentage, which is only 40%. That's not good. In the end, he's probably too slow to thrive in the league, unless he drastically improves his shooting. D+.
AK- I'm also concerned about Walton. The guy seems born to play in the triangle, yet he hasn't flourished much beyond his rookie season. And until he develops the offensive skills to keep a defender honest, his passing can only be so effective. He's got a head for the game, if perhaps not the athleticism to back it up. Something needs to give soon. D+.
BK- Was on his way to a solid B- before he got hurt. Considering their lack of depth, his loss was a bigger one for the Lakers than it would have been for most teams.
AK- For a trade throw in, Profit actually made his presence felt. Nice D. Nice confidence. Shame it went down the way it did. B.