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My Grades, Then a Lakers Blog Vacation

May 24, 2006 | 11:58 am

Hey, even bloggers don't want to get an incomplete on their report cards, so without further delay, here are my final grades...which coincidentally will be our final act for the season on the Lakers Blog.

Actually, it won't be that dramatic, but we are going to take a little break after this post. We'll keep the comments updated and obviously will throw up news if it should break out, but assuming things stay quiet through the rest of the playoffs (as they usually do), we're going to scale it back. When we return, we plan on posting a couple times a week until stuff really heats up on the hot stove. 

So here you gomore debate fodder. As a reminder, here are my first half grades:

Kwame Brown: No doubt the move to center helped him, and he proved to be a valuable low post defender over a stronger second half. But as has been discussed on this site a couple of times (I'm sure I remember it coming up at some point), he has a lot of work left to do on both ends. I hate boiling down my worries about Kwame to the fact that, in the end, the more he has to think, the worse he is, because it makes it sound like I think he's stupid. Not the case. Brown is articulate and thoughtful. He just lacks basketball IQ. Pull him away from the basket defensively, force him to make decisions offensively, and he struggles. Let him react — one-on-one low post D, fill the lane and dunk, follow shots and dunk, etc. — and he's fine.

First Half Grade: C-

Second Half Grade: B-

Overall: C

Kobe Bryant: Any complaints are around the margins. Everyone has flaws in their game, including Kobe. But I think overall, he continued to improve as a player and a leader, building on an amazing first half. Plus, Game 7 aside, his playoff performance was spectacular.

First Half Grade: A

Second Half Grade: A

Final Grade: A

Andrew Bynum: Here comes my first incomplete. When Chris Mihm went down, I think we all figured Bynum would get some work. Then he got hurt himself. That was the end of that. I like the kid, and think he has a chance to be a very good player. We just didn't get a chance to see any of that in the second half. His grade really should come from how he practiced, which from what we understand would be positive. But here on Lakers Blog, we grade on game performance. He barely had any.

First Half Grade: B-

Second Half Grade: Incomplete

Final Grade: C/Incomplete

Brian Cook: He regressed big time in the second half, and that disappointed me a great deal. I had high hopes for Cook coming out of camp, where he showed up in better shape and with more aggression in his game. Slowly that faded away, and by the end of the year it was nearly gone. His offense just couldn't make up for his problems on the other end (taking charges aside).

First Half Grade: C

Second Half Grade: D

Final Grade: C-

Devean George: Minutes and scoring were both down in the second half, which isn't good considering he didn't light it up in the first, either. He blew up in February and provided a serious boost to the team when they needed it, but he couldn't make himself a factor through March and April and his minutes really started to shrink. He stepped up with a couple nice games in the playoffs, but overall didn't really distinguish himself in the last half of the season. I like the guy and wish he could have broken out and made a case to stay. I think someone will give him a relatively decent contract, I just don't think it'll be here.

First Half Grade: C

Second Half Grade: C

Final Grade: C

Devin Green: Played a grand total of 2:07 after March 1. Wasn't playing much before then, either. You have to play to get a grade. In some February minutes he showed, as he did all year, a defensive intensity that if built on will keep him in the league, especially if he can add even a little offensive polish to his game. May have shown enough to be back next year.

First half- D+/Incomplete

Second Half Grade: Incomplete

Final Grade: D+/Incomplete

Aaron McKie: I know we were all wondering if he had anything left in the tank, but nobody expected him to ring in seven points for the entire season. Even when he came back, he wasn't healthy. Assuming they don't buy him out, McKie will be back next year, and hopefully he'll be able to provide more (any) production. I know he was disappointed by how this year went down. So were we.

First Half Grade: D-/Incomplete

Second Half Grade: F/Incomplete

Final Grade: F/Incomplete

Jim Jackson: This one caught me off guard. I figured when the Lakers signed him, I'd eventually be writing about the lift this crafty vet gave the team coming off the bench. Instead, I just wrote about how this crafty vet wasn't playing. Not necessarily his fault, just reality. I hope he gets to keep all the cool Lakers gear he was given, because that's about all anyone got out of his tenure here.

First Half Grade: N/A

Second Half Grade: D

Final Grade: D

Chris Mihm: He only played 13 games after the break because of his injury, so effectively his second half was wiped out. The benefit to his getting injured is that it allowed Kwame to have some time at the five without the pressure of switching back and forth from the four. The bad part was it deprived the Lakers of a solid low post scoring threat, something that really would have come in handy against Phoenix. In the end, what the Lakers really may need is some sort of machine that can create Kwame Mihm (or Chris Brown) — a genetic and athletic hybrid between the two Lakers centers. That guy would be a pretty good player.

First Half Grade: B-

Second Half Grade: C-/Incomplete

Final Grade: C+/Incomplete

Lamar Odom: Whether it was because he became comfortable in the offense, had the weight of the trade deadline lifted off him, just got into a groove, or whatever, L.O. was a monster down the stretch. 16.3/9.2/5.9 post All-Star Break. That's pretty good, and that was with a weak February dragging the numbers down. And he was big in the playoffs, Game 7 aside. Everyone finally got to see what he can do for a team, filling up the score sheet. Hopefully he learned that he's capable of exploiting just about everyone if he can go to the hoop (or just start there) and on the open floor. If this continues into next year, Odom could be an All Star.

First Half Grade: B

Second Half Grade: A-

Final Grade: B+

Smush Parker: The second half of the season was a little more of a struggle for Smush. While his scoring numbers remained scarily consistent and his assist totals went up, Parker turned the ball over more in the second half and struggled with his shot. That, I think, was due to fatigue. Not only was he in his first 82 game season in the NBA, he was put into a starting role that, frankly, was over his head. Smush needs to improve his defense, and as he said in his exit interview, find a midrange game. But while he needs to be graded as a starter, keep in mind that he should really be a sixth or seventh guy on the roster. If the Lakers can find veteran help at the point — and Smush takes a potential demotion like a pro — he could be a valuable asset next season.

First Half Grade: B

Second Half Grade: C

Final Grade: C+

Ronny Turiaf: Provided nice energy off the bench in the second half, and at times provided some very solid minutes. Just the fact he was playing is a fantastic story. It's hard to say what Turiaf will become in his pro career. He needs to add polish to his interior game, and find a little more strength on defense. Is he a future starter? Hard to say. Would I like to see him in a Laker uni for the next few years? Absolutely.

First Half Grade: N/A

Second Half Grade: C+

Final Grade: C+

Sasha Vujacic: It's too early to write the kid off, but I'll be honest. I don't see it. Sasha works hard on D, and to his credit has figured out the only way he can stick with guys is to be about an inch and a half away from them. Unfortunately, that also means a ton of fouls 35 feet away from the hoop (followed inevitably by "Sasha Face", where he complains to the refs as if he were a 10 year vet and four-time defensive player of the year award winner). In space, he gets used. But the bigger problem is offensively, he hasn't yet shown an ability to hit open jumpers. And considering that's the whole reason he's in the league, it's a bad sign. He was under 40% from the floor in February, March and April, and in two of those months didn't crack 26% from downtown. The burst during the playoffs was nice, but it reminded me of that year when Tuffy Rhodes hit three homers on opening day for the Cubs. Who's Tuffy Rhodes, you ask? Exactly. Could Sasha develop? Sure. But I'm not a believer.

First Half Grade: C

Second Half Grade: D

Final Grade: D+

Von Wafer: Fun, fun, fun. Unfortunately, his fun was had in Fort Worth, not in L.A. I want him to come back a) because if he ever pans out I can say, "I was on board when...", and b) he makes garbage time fun again.

First Half Grade: D+

Second Half Grade: Incomplete

Final Grade: D+/Incomplete

Luke Walton: Man alive, did he come on in the second half. I was harsh on Luke in the first half, deservedly so, and wondered if he could really play in the league. Turns out he can, and I was wrong. Walton provided a huge lift to the team once he was inserted into the starting lineup, which he was able to break into because of improved play overall. Is he a guy you want starting for your team? Probably not. But if Luke continues to play with the confidence he displayed in the second half, he'll be in good shape. Plus, that little turnaround he developed was sweet.

First Half Grade: D+

Second Half Grade: B

Final Grade: C+

BK


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