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.
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.