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Know thy enemy: Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves

George_the_animal_steele (In our yearly peek at the rest of the Western Conference, we'll preview each team in reverse order of finish from last season.)

The Western Conference is a brutal place, cold and unforgiving, where quality teams must scratch and claw and gauge each others eyes out like George "The Animal" Steele (left) simply to find a spot in the postseason.  But while most of the competition is sinew and gristle, there is a soft, chewy, delicious underbelly on this side of the Mississippi, best represented by three teams that managed to win a combined 64 games in the 2007-08 campaign: The Seattle SuperSonics Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves.

There have been geographical and cosmetic changes, but will anything help these weak sisters win some games? 

Oklahoma City Thunder (20-62, 15th in the conference, fifth in the Northwest Division)

Key additions: Desmond Mason, Joe Smith, Russell Westbrook
Key subtractions: Luke Ridnour, Francisco Elson, Donyell Marshall

First things first: Thunder = Worst. Team. Name. Ever. I'm already dreading the weather-related headlines when they play Miami.

Moving on...

GM Sam Presti is to be congratulated for shaping a positive future for the Thunder. Anyone who can turn Thunder_logo Kurt Thomas into three first round picks is doing good work, to say the least.  As for the present?  OKC opens a day after Halloween, but there isn't a costume on the planet scarier than the hardwood horrors the Thunder will give their new fans (who, given the excitement at having pro spots in town, likely won't care).   Oklahoma City is led by the young twosome of Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant at the two- he'll be a better fit as a forward down the line- Georgetown product Jeff Green at small forward, and have a decent third piece in power forward Chris Wilcox.

Beyond that, the best thing you can say about these guys is that they're tall.  Not that it helps them much. The ThunderSonics were terrible inside offensively, and while they managed to tie for second in total rebounds per game, they were fifth in rebounds allowed, leading to a very ordinary differential. Meanwhile, they couldn't shoot from two (44.4%), or from three (33.3%, third worst in the NBA, 3.8 triples per game, worst in the W.C.).  They didn't defend (106.3 a night, fourth worst in the league), couldn't force turnovers, and struggled to get to the line.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...

There are other illustrations of how bad OKC was last season, but I think you get the point.  The important thing to know is that the Thunder, bad as they were last year, could very well be worse this season.  Even money for the worst team in the league, I'd say.  Mason and Westbrook add a little D, but neither is much of a shooter, and without Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West, traded away midseason in '07-'08, they actually have less to offer from outside.  Durant has to grow up fast and Green needs to blossom if this bunch is to reach even mediocrity. 

Seriously, look at this roster and explain how the Thunder are supposed to win NBA games with any sort of regularity? 

PROJECTION:
Worst in the conference, worst in the NBA. 

Good Blog: They're new at this, but should you need to learn more about the Thunder (why?), give Oklahoma City BBall a shot.

Memphis Grizzlies (22-60, 14th in the W.C., 5th in the Southwest Division)

Key Additions: OJ Mayo, Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Darrell Arthur, Mark Gasol, Hamed Haddadi
Key Losses: Juan Carlos Navarro, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins, Kwame Brown

Fair to say you're probably not very good when the words "Antoine Walker" and "Key Additions" are in the Rudy_gay same sentence.  I kid- okay, I don't- because Walker wasn't the key figure in the post-draft deal that sent Kevin Love and Mike Miller to Minnesota for Mayo and warm, expensive bodies.  Given their glut of backcourt talent, there's no question that Love was a more natural fit in Memphis than Mayo, but GM Chris Wallace thinks he's found himself a star to line up with up-and-coming swingman Rudy Gay at small forward. 

He'd better be right. 

Personally, I'd have stuck with Love, who looks like a more solid pro than I'd have forecast six months ago.  Plus, they lost Miller, who is a very good player.  That leaves the Grizzlies with incredible imbalance on the roster.  A backcourt stuffed to the brim with Mayo, Mike Conley Jr., Kyle Lowry, former Laker Javaris Crittenton, with guys like Jaric gumming up the works as well.  Gay is an athletic slasher who came into his own last year and is the real deal as a scorer, but isn't versatile enough to carry a team on his own, and is another outside-in guy. 

That leaves the Grizzlies very weak on the interior, especially defensively. Hakim Warrick can jump and finish offensively, but can't do much on the other end but block the occasional shot.  He certainly can't defend PFs on the block, given his No. 2 pencil-thin legs and reedy upper body.  Darko Milicic continues to disappoint, and like many observers who have seen signs and waited for him to fully develop as a player... I've given up.  Pau's lil' bro looks like he could be a solid pro, but it remains to be seen whether he's got NBA athleticism and can be someone who discourages penetration.   That he's the likely starter at center is less a testament to his skill and more to Memphis' lack of options in the post. 

The Grizz aren't good.  They're not even ordinary.  Actually, they're pretty damn bad, and any team playing with discipline against them should find some success.  But Memphis is very young and extremely athletic.  Teams that get loose and let them run could find some trouble.  There will be plenty of nights where Memphis struggles to score since they lack consistent shooting, but will be effective when they can penetrate and get to the rim.  Those will be the nights the Grizzlies can steal a win, because there will be very few evenings where they stop anyone.   

PROJECTION:
  A few wins better than last season with flashes of promise... but still pretty bad.  If not for OKC, they'd be the worst team in the conference. 

Best Blog: 3 Shades of Blue is one of the best team blogs around.

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60, 13th in the W.C., 4th in the Northwest)

Key Additions: Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Rodney Carney, Jason Collins, Brian Cardinal
Key Losses: Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, Michael Doleac, Kirk Snyder

The Wolves should be better this season, if for no other reason than a quick glance at the lists above show the players they brought in are far better than the ones they gave up.  There is nothing particularlyRandy_foye devastating about losing Walker and Jaric.  (By the way, am I the only one a little surprised at how Jaric has fallen off a competitive cliff?  Back in his Clipper days, I thought he might be a decent player.  Maybe Adriana Lima made him soft.  Still, between her and his big money contract, Jaric is a hard man to pity.)

Love may never be a superstar, but he projects as the type of player who can make a good team better, and if he's able to defend at the pro level will have a lot to offer.  Miller is a similar player in the backcourt- a great ingredient whose skill set helps those around him succeed.  Both can shoot, which will help extend Minnesota's offense and give Al Jefferson, a beast in the middle (at least on one end), more to operate.   Toss in a banger like Craig Smith, and the Wolves have some solid players up front. 

Injuries helped make guard play a mess in Minnesota last season, as Randy Foye (right) played only 39 games, leaving Sebastian Telfair more minutes than he should get.  This year, if Foye can stay on the floor, combined with Miller and Rashad McCants, at the very least the Wolves ought to be able to shoot.  All three of those guys can bomb.   Love and Miller ought to help Minnesota move the ball better, too, which should let them improve on one of the league's lowest per game assist numbers, too. 

Minnesota's biggest problems will be on the defensive end. Jefferson is a great scorer and rebounder, but can't defend to save his life.  Love is a rookie with questionable size and quicks.  Foye hasn't established himself as a stopper.  Overall, they have a lot of young and somewhat mismatched parts that will make it tough to stop the ball, something they absolutely did not do last season.  But despite issues defending the goal, Minnesota should be an improved team this year.  Not playoff good, but better.  It's worth remembering they splatted out of the gate in 2007 with a 6-34 record over their first 40 games, and improved from there. 

Given their improved personnel, the Wolves ought to continue that trend.  They still won't be good, but if everyone stays healthy, Minnesota will be able to score in bunches, and use guys like Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Smith, Carney and McCants to make a reasonable rotation.  Show up and play, or they'll bite.  Get it?  Wolves?  Bite?

Projection: Still well in the lottery, but if things break right a low 30s win total is very possible.

Toothy Blogs (Get it?  Wolves?  Toothy?  Rim shot!): Canis Hoopus has more editorializing, twolvesblog heaps of news.

BK

 
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KNOW THY ENEMY!!!!!!!!


Thanks AK / BK!! Good Work!!!!!!

dan

BK-

I gotta disagree with you on the Mayo vs Love thing. I'm thinking big things out of Mayo. I even put a little money on Mayo to win ROY. While he isn't very polished he has had an NBA ready game for a few years now a la Kobe and Lebron. His game just seems to fit the NBA where as Love is undersized in the NBA and I think will struggle against big time big men.

I think the Grizzlies will still suck but be very fun to watch and like you said show some flashes. Gay is really really good and Marc Gasol doesn't look to bad either. I've always been a fan of Warrick and OJ will provide a lot of scoring.

All in all, good preview and all these teams should SUCK next year. Can't wait to get your preview on the better teams.

Lamar = 6th man of the year

GO LAKERS

barney-

I'm not down on Mayo as a player, I just think he doesn't make nearly as much sense fit-wise in Memphis. They have a billion back court guys and NOTHING in the front. They could have used a good forward or big man.

When the Grizz went with Love, it made sense. When they traded him for a guard, it didn't. At least to me. Both ought to be good players, though.

BK

Good to have "Know Thy Enemy!" back.

BK, surprisingly I didn't find anything you wrote worth complaining or arguing about.

Of course, that could change by the time you get to the Clippers.

Go Clippers!

GO LAKERS!

Love the reference to George 'the Animal' Steele. That was one hairy dude. Those were the good ole days of wrestling.

I like the way the Lakers looked last night. I think the high low game with Gasol and Bynum will be unstoppable once Gasol learns how to throw a good lob pass. That shouldn't be much of a problem.

I like how Lamar looks with the bench squad. I also like the way Radmanovic is playing as a starter. This should be the SF situation in my opinion.

Overall, a pretty good performance for the preseason.

Kobe's defensive mentality has carried over from the olympics; says 10 steals in 2 games. I hope that will be his focus this year.

Defense, defense, defense.....this is how we will win it this year. As a Lakerfan, this is where my focus is going to be as I watch every single game. Defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, twin towers + Kobe + Fisher should = Defense.

With Bynum in the middle, there's no reason why we shouldn't have the most feared, dominant defense in the NBA. It should be better than the Celtics.

With health, there will be no excuses.

Go Lakers!

What happened to my good natured trash talk comment?

GO LAKERS!

Should see a lot of the opponents' "bigs" getting early fouls this season, with having to guard both Bynum and Gasol, followed by a lot of easy baskets for the Lakers.

My BUTT-ler post (as is I were the BUTT):

"I can not believe that your team waived HEATH! The SUNS picked him up this morning and he has already proven to be the BEST POWER FORWARD OF ALL TIME!! We have already hung his jersey in the rafters next to LOPEZ's and SHACKS (in case you were wondering we hung KNASH's and STATS last week since they are the BEST EVER AT THEIR positions also".

Le Fin


starring: janaya as the TROLL BUTT-ler.

Jon K,

It's funny, but the guy's not around much (if at all) to defend himself, so it's not really fair to mock along non-basketball llines. No big deal and we certainly weren't "offended" or "pissed off," but probably best unpublished. But points for clever.

AK

I have zero pity for Marko Jaric. Like BK, I thought he was going to be a good player when he started off as a Clipper. Now he's just some multi-millionaire who gets to sleep regularly with a supermodel.

GO LAKERS!

BK-

Gotcha, yea they definitely need way more front court players, but all their guards are very talented...They'll suck.

Lamar = 6th man of the year

GO LAKERS

KBros,

Did you intentionally leave out the "L" in Oklahoma?

AK,

I understand and I'm not upset about having post not put up. It's okay, but you might see how some people might get a little confused by the rules sometimes because even though my post may not have been in the best taste, I think it was still technically within the rules. Still no big deal.

GO LAKERS!

Jon-

It runs into the "respectful to each other" part of our rules...

But like AK said, it was funny.

BK

BK,

{Jon K. fighting every instinct to argue the matter}

Fine.

GO LAKERS!

Ex,

Kwa-may for a while in 2005-2006 was solid but that was over rated. When he went against the Suns in the playoffs he faced off against Boris Diaw a 6'9 forward. Kwa-may's best attribute of any kind of defense was the being the big body kind of defense. Otherwise he wasn't a good shot blocker nor was he good in help defense, heck even Mbenga is better than Kwa-may in help defense and actually tries to block shots instead of doing crap.

The Timberwolves seem like the most promising of the 3. Just better hope Love can defend much better than he did at UCLA and no Mark Madsen as much as he was a cool guy and dancer really isn't the guy to be a stopper.

Have to wonder why though Oklahoma decided to draft Westbrook instead of a quality big man. True he is a better defender than Earl Watson but the Thunder really must be waiting for 2 quality big men to be drafted/signed to be even considered to be a low playoff bound seed team.

-blitz

Luke 2nd half play was a big improvement from the first half. But the pressure of failing at that tenure of the game was dramatically reduced by then ass well!

AK-

Are you afraid for Ronnie tomorrow night? I am!

the game last night was great!

Wow, Jon musta said something pretty bad. The K-Bros don't even cencor the filthy mouth of the canibus hog!
--------------------------------------------------------

On another note, Phil is the man! Starting Vladi is such a smart move because it shows Ariza, Luke and Lamar how important good outside shooting is.

Imagine if Trevor starts shooting the ball well. Blend in his defensive tenacionsy, and we'll have the triangle forward of the ages!

ch

Thanks, Jon. We appreciate it.

BK

Eric M,

About those "three 3's":

In the game against FC, Phil inserted a lineup of Farmar and Mihm, along with Lamar, Luke and Trevor. That was an efective lineup because of the tempo they pushed. Phil then pulled Chris for Andrew and it was over.

THE THREE 3's!!
-Lamar
-Luke
-Trev

Gotta love it!!

dan

Seems like Sasha is feeling great and might play tomorrow:

http://tinyurl.com/5rb47v

A lineup of Farmar-Vujacic-Trevor-Odom-Mihm/Bynum/Gasol:

That lineup is probably better than the starting lineups of the Minnesota, Memphis, and Oklahoma.

The Lakers are so deep in depth.

-blitz

Hmmmmmm,

I NEED to see Jon K's post now because of all the publicity.


take care all.

janaya

chuck23,
"But the pressure of failing at that tenure of the game was dramatically reduced by then ass well!"

Yeah, the Lakers had a huge 4 point lead when Walton entered, with Farmar, Ariza, Odom, and Mihm on the court with him. That's obviously a blowout.

"The Lakers are so deep in depth."

The definition of redundancy.

I love when the blog gets all literary.

BK

Ajax,

I can't even begin to express how much I've been sitting on pins and needles this week. You just know things are coming to a very ugly head. This season has grown ridiculously intense. And what a dark path Ronnie has gone down. He's becoming Vic, but with "100% pragmatism" substituted for "conflicted sense of morality."

AK

Machine repaired!

http://tinyurl.com/6ap5qd

Hope to finally see Sasha in tomorrow's game vs. the Bobcats.

Hog,

Yes I was aware of the lineup. When LO is in with ONE center, he is playing the 4. He would only be playing the 3 if bynum and/or Pau and/or mihm were in at the same time and that didn't happen.

Celtics waived Darius Miles.

http://tinyurl.com/4k7279

Hmmm....


GO LAKERS!

I prefer Lamar off the bench because now the ball is in his hands a lot more and the 2nd unit actually runs the offense. I think with the 1st unit a lot of times Kobe holds on to the ball to much and doesn't run the offense. Kobe is looking to create a shot for himself or for someone else, instead of allowing the offense to create the shot for them. The 2nd unit understands that.

AK,

What was that you were saying about Baron Davis's pinky?

I thought I saw something there for a second.

Haven't had any time to do anything other than read some posts and scroll past the troll.

Some thoughts...

AK/ BK great Know Thy Enemy, I hadn't really read about any other teams aside from my hometown heroes and I found this enlightening. Something that you guys brought up in the Grizzlies section made me think:

"Actually, they're pretty damn bad, and any team playing with discipline against them should find some success."

This makes so much sense to me it was silly-fying. The Lakers seem to always play down to teams like this, last year being an exception, and it is this little observation that created a moment of clarity. The Lakers goof off against lower tier teams, they try to be too cutsie and end up in a dog fight when they should have mopped the arena with their jerseys. Everyone talks about playing down to the level of competiti9on, but never had it, in my mind, been put so succinctly. Well done.

Regarding the weekend games...

I thought in the first game, Kobe came out wanting to shut up the media and Phil. PJ had been taking little pot shots at Kobe's conditioing, and Kobe took that notion and fried it over medium and served it on sour dough, montery jack, sauteed 'shrooms and slice of soy meat. His game was tasty!

Gasol was very active, looks extremely sharp. Farmar had as good a game as I'd seen since mid last year, and he looked even better in the second game. I think that if he gets a little love from the refs, he could have a break out year a la (cringe) John Hollinger. Back to Gasol, he looks as good as he did in the first 10 games or so after he joined LA. His passing is on the money, he's moving and he and Bynum seem to have found each others comfort zone as far as spacing, which in hoops is just about everything when it comes to the triangle.

Bynum looked good passing in the 2nd game, I was not too impressed with his 1 st game, but I think Jermaine O'Neal brings out the Beast in Bynum, him and Shaq really seem to get the young lad pumped. Not sure why in Jermaine's case.

Kobe looks like he's found a nice blend of 2008 MVP Kobe and Olympic Kobe. I am really glad he didn't come into the new season firing from all corners, fading away, driving into masses of defenders, he's almost always playing in a 2nd gear speed, with a 6th gear mentality and he goes from 0 to 60 like nobody in the NBA. Skillzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Odom looks good off the bench. I hate to say it, because I love the dude and want him to be the best he can be. But he looks as good as Coop coming off the bench in the '80's. He's even got the socks going. His defense has been tight, very tight. He's got great footwork on the defensive end. I also don't mind if he wants to shoot those elbow jumpers, I've always thought he popped that shot well and had largely abondoned it since playing in Miami. Does Lamar have little suction cups on his fingers, he just reaches out that long arm and (schloop) he's got the ball. Sometimes he doesn't even jump. There's another big guy, or two, jumping...and Lamar just goes (schloop).

Fish seems to be cruising through pre-season, which is smart because we all know that he will bring the fire when the games are counted. His heart never needs questioning, as can be seen in his critique of the younger players line drills from earlier in the pre-season.

Bynum looks rustier than Mihm, which is a little surprising, but not a matter of panic. He is coming back from his first major injury, there is probably a small amount of personal concern and anxiety. He looks unsure when he gets the ball in the post, but is still moving very well without the ball. He has a great free throw stroke. His rebounding comes and goes, but defensively he still is making a difference.

Radmonavich looks like a new player. Sure he missed horribly from downtown last night, but that didn't stop him from playing good defense and rebounding well. It looks like he practiced defensive anticipation this summer. Not sure how one would go about doing that, but he has been moving into passing lanes very well and has been a force on the boards. His passing is probably one of the most under-reported things about this Laker team. Not that in and of itself makes an awesome headline...Vladimir Radmonavich looks slick handling the Rock. I like that he has set up a charity over here as well, good man.

Mbenga looks just like he did last year. Energy, hustle and blind fortune. I am amazed whenever one of his jump hooks goes in, he looks worse than Luke shooting.

Speaking of....

Luke Walton! Yes! He looks pretty good coming off a summer of rehab. His cuts are sharp and he is not as confused as he was last year. He had some early turnover laden games last year and I think he never really got back on track. Which is pitiful in a way, but, what are you going to do? In the second game, I thought Luke looked as good as I've seen him since early 07 when he led the league in 3 point shooting til they switched back to the old ball. He was rebounding inside well, he passed well, he made his funky white boy turn arounds that are absolutely UNGUARDABLE. Ok, that last part was over the top, but he did look really good.

Trevor is still a menace on defense. Seeing him after the summer makes me realize how out of sync he was in the Playoffs last year. Out of sync and still a step slow. He looks bigger, too. His outside shot looks about as good as Luke's, which is OK. I think he should get more rebounds, although, he is most effective as a perimeter defender and not too many rebounds come way out yonder, so that's a draw and possibly an unfair expectation.

The Blog might hate this next one: Josh Powell is better than Ronny Turiaf. There, I said it. He shoots better, he rebounds better and he plays as good off defense as Ronny did. IS he emminently likable? No, but who frickin' cares. If we had Josh Powell in last year's Finals, we don't lose Game 4 beacuse that guy BANGS. Me likie.

Finally...Chris Mihm. If ever the phrase, "He's on a mission from God." came into play it is in regard to Mr. Chris Mihm. He looks like he wants to tear the head of a weasel and eat it raw. He walks on that court pissed off and hungry and it is awesome. He's got lift, he goes straight up on rebounds, not over or to the sides. He played some great defence last night. He shot the ball well from about 15' out, rebounded well. it is so good to see him healthy again. He could be our secret weapon, along with Powell off the bench. And it'll keep Bynum working with a guy like Mihm playing the way he did last night. My only question...consistency.

Sasha was funny on TV when he was answering questions, but watching the game. He actually didn't answer some of the questions posed, just kept saying how he wanted to go out and play with his pals. He looks stoked to still be here.

I think that is what makes this team special, it is greater than the sum of it's parts. They like each other. They complement each other very well. Last night, and against FC Barcelona (whose owner is pretty cool), they looked like a team that plays with dicsipline. Not when Heath, Crawford and Karl were out there, but with the main 12 man rotation Phil's been trotting out there, it's looking good.

In pre-season.

"The Blog might hate this next one: Josh Powell is better than Ronny Turiaf. "

Finally, somebody agrees with me.

Big ups Jamie!

Jon K,

"Celtics waived Darius Miles."

Don't even think about it.

Deep depth.

Hmmm. Funny reduncancies....

Shallow politics?

Xodus,

Again I concur with you:

Jon K: Don't even think about Darius Miles. Heck he's even worst than Clipper rejects that you try to get to the Lakers hehe.

(To me at least, trying to get Clipper rejects is almost as bad as trying to get Trojan Basketball rejects. Maybe a few Clippers are good to sign like Powell but heck there IS a reason why the Clippers didn't want guys like Smush and Dan Dickau).

Warren,

I 90% agree with you. Powell is a better rebounder, seems to have better help defense, and has a better jumper than Ronny. Ronny though is a better finisher and is a better shot blocker.

Deep Depth as in our bench is very deep and talented hehe.

-blitz

Jon K

Conform
conform

4 legs good
2 legs better


FYI,

The Blazers play the Queens tonight on NBA TV if anyone is interested. I'm looking forward to doing a little scouting on Oden.

Jon K....Hope all is well..Just a couple of points...

1...Please go down to your local bar and organize your seat for the season..


2..Please make sure your car starts before the games....Please we need consistency ...

Cheers...

Just on a global note....Petrol is $1.48 a liter and intrest rates are at 8%....

BK - I'm sorry to say I've got a HUGE problem with you. How could you say "Best Blog: 3 Shades of Blue is one of the best team blogs around."

What the....?????!!!!!

The LEAST you could have done was toot your own horn a little and give props to the Times blog & all of us. This other so-called blog may be good, but COME ON - you can't give them a shout out without even BOTHERING to mention all of us.

I FEEL DISSED and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Please don't let it happen again.

GO LAKERS!!!!

I consider 4pts a pressure free lead! Don't get me wrong as long as Luke earns the minutes and PJ doesn't give them to him because of some sick 70's adoration that reminds him of the Red Holzman days then so be it. If Luke can defend and hit open jumpers cool! If not keep his sorry behind on the bench period!!!!!

pslakersfan,

>>>>>Most of the Lakers flexibility of lineups comes from some use of Lamar Odom.
>>>>>How many teams in the league can bring in the same player off the bench
>>>>>regardless of which starter is in foul trouble. (I am guessing none).

Superb point. Players like Lamar, Pau, and Kobe, who can play multiple positions at a high level, make it appear to other teams as if we have more players suited up rather than just 12. Lamar playing 4 positions, Kobe 2, Pau 2, and even Sasha, Farmar, and Mihm 2 give the Lakers the equivalent of 7 extra players for other teams to have to deal with. LOL.
Tom

Jamie Sweet,
"Bynum looks rustier than Mihm, which is a little surprising,"

Not really - Bynum has 2.5 (college + pros) years of basketball, including his first year, when he averaged about 5 (?) mpg. Mihm has about 8 (?) years of basketball. Mihm had already been practicing for awhile at the end of last season, and didn't have the limitations (due to surgery) over the summer like Bynum did.

Jamie,
I agree that Powell is better than Turiaf; hopefully he'll get less PT, though, since if he gets very much it probably means that someone is injured.

Xodus,

>>>>>No one in the NBA can match our combination of depth and experience.

Considering the prevailing “what have you done for me lately” attitude that has fans making uncalled for comments every time Andrew Bynum has a misstep and Jon K slamming Sun Yue while trying to sell any gullible suckers on any one of cadre of Clipper failures at point guard (JK, Jon), your statement accurately reflects what we have seen the last 2 games.

I have to admit that I never have been a big proponent of deep rotations much less wholesale substitutions of nearly all of the entire first team with a second team because I have always felt that too many players and substitutions kept key players and the team from being able to get into a rhythm. Furthermore, I have always believed that deep and versatile benches were best used to create a mismatch with other teams rather than just to share playing time.

This team makes you wonder whether having the first string and second string play as units might not actually work. First off, the starting tandem of Kobe, Fish, Vlade, Pau, and Drew is really starting to play well together. I commented before that there were still solid reasons to start Vlade because of his long range shooting, although I am still hopeful that Phil might adjust the starting lineup according to our opponent. More likely, he prefers the steadiness of a consistent starting lineup and rotation. At any rate, the starting lineup rocks.

But the second team has its own advantages and is actually a great trapping and running team. Moving Lamar to power forward and 6th man has reenergized the bench mob. Now they have a combination power and point forward who can control the boards AND run. Throw in a continuously improving Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza, a resurgent healthy Chris Mihm who is rounding into form, and the best long range shooter on the team in Sasha Vujacic and you have a dynamite second unit that gives the Lakers a great change of pace.

While I doubt we would see an actual platooning system, we may often see Kobe or Drew or Pau play with four guys from the second unit. It will be interesting to see how Phil doles out playing time. I have a hunch we may see starters playing far fewer minutes than last year if the bench mob is really that much improved with Lamar. There is no doubt that it would keep the key players like Kobe, Pau, and Drew fresher for the post-season, as well as giving other talented players on the team the opportunity to contribute.

And of course, there are always injuries, just hopefully not as many or as serious as last year. At any rate, any roster with Luke Walton and Josh Powell are the 11th and 12th players is very deep. At this point, the Lakers will probably make Mbenga and Carl inactive for most games and send Sun Yue to play in the D-League. I still think Yue can be a player but there is no way he is going to get any playing time this year as deep as this team is and playing more USA style basketball can only help him develop and grow.

Anyway, it was great to have back-to-back wins where the Lakers played good defense and sparking offense and won. I mean, I love back-to-back games. Wish we had 41 of them.

Tom

LakerTom,

"Considering the prevailing “what have you done for me lately” attitude that has fans making uncalled for comments every time Andrew Bynum has a misstep and Jon K slamming Sun Yue."

None of the comments about Bynum have been uncalled for. It's true that he hasn't proven much in his short career and doesn't deserve a max deal.

justanothermambafan-

That this is the best batch of bloggers and team fans in the NBA world is assumed. Like the sun rising in the east.

Remember, I said "one of the," not "the best."

BK

BK - I know. It's just nice to hear it sometimes!

Jamie,

Excellent game recap, Jamie. I agreed with every single point you made. What strikes me is that we are very possibly looking at anther perfect storm type of season where over half the team have career years. Already, we see Farmar, Ariza, Walton, Mihm, and Lamar looking sharp. We all expect big things from Kobe, Drew, and Pau but the real difference in a team that wins the championship is the rest of the roster, which is looking outstanding and 12 deep. I mean how in hell can Mbenga, Carl, and Sun Yue expect to be anything but inactive considering how the 12 guys in front of them are playing. And Luke may be back – as the 11th man. LOL. Who would have thought?

I also love the Olympian Kobe. I said many times that the key to the Lakers playing great defense was Kobe reprising his Olympic role. We have so much fire power on this team that we do not need Kobe to score 30 or even maybe 25 points per game. What we need is his leadership on defense. We need the Doberman, who wins the DPOY. Just look at Kobe’s scoring the last couple of games. Efficiency, with a real focus on defense. This is going to be the big change in the Lakers attitude this year. You could see it in the practice video when Kobe on defense slammed Sasha to the ground. Even Pau is playing with fire now. If Kobe can just continue to play this way, the Lakers will cakewalk to the title. I can envision many routs where the starters barely play 20 minutes. We could be that good.

I was probably way off on my predictions that the Lakers would score 115 points per game but I think I have been right on regarding how the Lakers would really focus on aggressive perimeter defense and count on Drew and Pau to anchor the paint – rather than playing a sag it into the middle type of Boston or Houston defense. Our Twin Towers gives us the luxury of playing aggressive pressing defense which ignites our fast break offense. Watching the second unit with Farmar and Trevor ball-hawking and fast-breaking was exactly what I have been hoping the Lakers would do. Shades of Showtime, we had some sensational plays, including Farmar’s awesome dunk over Bosh. Now that’s using your 32 inch vertical leap!

Tom

Laker Tom,

>>> At this point, the Lakers will probably make Mbenga and Carl inactive for most games.

I said over the summer --- and haven't yet seen anything to change my mind -- that it is not a lock for Coby Karl to make the team. He has shown himself to be a garbage-time-only player. IMHO that is simply not a good use of a roster slot.

LUV to see Odom triving with the bench!

The minor minute-slashing will help him in the long run. He looked so burned out late last season and I knew he was playing too much.

Lamar = Laker For Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

chuck,
"I consider 4pts a pressure free lead!"

LOL! SOmehow I have a hard time believing that.

Xodus,

>>>>>None of the comments about Bynum have been uncalled for.
>>>>>It's true that he hasn't proven much in his short career and doesn't deserve a max deal.

I was referring to reports of fans at Staples and other arenas in preseason making sarcastic comments and gestures when Andrew fumbles a pass or makes a mistake because of their anger at him wanting a max contract. These are the kinds of Lakers fans that remind of fans in politics who act like the Romans did during events in the Coliseum. I was not referring to opinions posted on the blog. As I explained many times before, I have no problem with fans who think it is greater risk that Bynum won’t be worth a near-max contract than it is that we will lose him to free agency by not signing him to an extension. It’s the bloggers who claim there is NO risk of losing Andrew by not signing him who are operating under a false assumption.

At any rate, Drew will be signed to an extension so I am not worried at this point. I just wish everybody would read exactly what I post and not presume that I don’t see that there is a risk in signing him. I just think the risk is not as great as the risk of losing him if we allow him to become a free agent. We will find out what happens in the next 10 days anyway.

Tom

ex,

>>>>>Not really - Bynum has 2.5 (college + pros) years of basketball,
>>>>>including his first year, when he averaged about 5 (?) mpg.
>>>>>Mihm has about 8 (?) years of basketball. Mihm had already been
>>>>>practicing for awhile at the end of last season, and didn't have the
>>>>>limitations (due to surgery) over the summer like Bynum did.

Once again, ex sets the record straight. Precise analysis, concise points, decisive statements. You are an artist in logically explaining reality. I always wanted to be the strong silent type who, when he spoke, everyone stopped and listened. Of course, we all know why that never happened. LOL. But you do it superbly, ex. I admire and salute you. And I hope you are doing well considering everything going on in the world. At least, things look promising in Lakersville. That is something in which we can all rejoice and enjoy. Best to you and all.

Tom

LakerTom,
" the strong silent type "

That's why I love to have control of the power windows in the car.

BK,

Excellent analyses of our weakest Western Conference foes. I do like the moves that Minnesota made to trade for Kevin Love and Mike Miller. I think Kevin Love is going to be a great pro player, much better than expected. The guy is a hard worker, smart player, who would be a great fit on a team like the Lakers. Bring back the old territorial draft. And I have always loved Mike Miller’s gutsiness and shooting touch. It would have been a real coup to get him along with Pau. At any rate, I think those two guys will help.

It will be interesting this year to see if this team has the same lackadaisical attitude toward weaker teams and plays down to their level. I have a hunch we may see a real dedication and concentration on home court advantage in the Finals motivating this team as well as a surplus of talent and depth that is quickly maturing and becoming more powerful. Other teams are going to confront a Lakers squad that is NOT just last year’s team with Andrew but a stronger and more experienced version of last year’s team plus a bigger and better Drew. At least, that is what I am hoping for. Great to be in season and struggling to keep up with all of the great news. Now all I need is that thread about Drew’s new contract.

Tom

Laker Tom

"Our Twin Towers"

During Kobe's interview after the game, he stopped the reporter in his tracks saying not to use that "cheezy" expression. It was from another era, and another team that we vanquished.

Kobe then went on to say come up with something else. Make it a contest or something, but come up with something original and unique to our team.

So please, Laker Tom, let's get with the program, and follow Kobe's admonishment.

Fatty's suggestions.

The Lakers Two Towers: Lords of the Rings and Guardians of the Paint
The Lakers Two Towers and Kobe: Lord of the Rings
The Lakers Two Towers: And the Return of the Ring ***

*** It is merely coincidental that these names resemble in any way the Titles to Tolkien's books.

ex,

>>>>>That's why I love to have control of the power windows in the car.

LMAO. I once heard that control of the power windows and television were the true determinants of power in a marriage. Of course, Mrs. LakerTom says that it is the illusion that these are the determinants of power in a marriage that defines the true power. Make you think, doesn’t it?

I always got the “strong” part but the silent and patient part? Never a chance. That was too Hop Sing for me as a kid. Funny, what makes us become what we become. I make the grandkids “beg” for control over their windows when they’re in my car. Now that is true power! LOL. I always charge a lot of hugs and kisses to relinquish control. Love is the only way to make your windows work.

Tom

"Bynum has 2.5 (college + pros) years of basketball"

Where did Drew play his college ball?

Fatty,

I don’t know why we can’t use Twin Towers. Wasn’t its first usage to describe the World Trade Center twin skyscrapers in New York? It seems to me that the term is more of a generic way to refer to Drew and Pau than a nickname. But if Kobe objects, why not look for an alternative. Problem is all of them I have heard so far are too contrived. They lack the simple clarity and simplicity of Twin Towers. Big Two? OK. Tall Two? Uh, Uh. Dynamic Duo? Fair. But not as appropriate as Twin Towers.

Tom

Fatty,

Twin Centers? Double-D? Double Bigs? Not bad! Anybody else?

Tom

Fatty,

We should use the term "The Two Trees" from the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. Far more profound.

GO LAKERS!

It's going to be a good year for Lakers fans. Yes it will.

GO LAKERS!

I missed this point earlier from Lakers.com/ M. Trudell

"A note about Bynum: He said that while his knee’s feeling good, he did have a little bit of swelling a week ago, and left it at that."

Drew, didn't you get the memo from your agent, you are to say, "everything is fine, has healed nicely, and you are to mention that you have NO SWELLING in the knee?"

Hey, Fatty. Wouldn't Phil Jackson be the Lord of the Rings? I'd peg Kobe more as Aragorn or something...

EVERYONE! TWIN TOWERS REFERS TO TIM DUNCAN AND DAVID ROBINSON OF THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS! HAS EVERYONE FORGOT THAT THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS ARE ONE OF OUR MAIN RIVALS?!?!?!? IS EVERYONE DRINKING CRAZY JUICE? WHAT THE HECK?!??! SO ARE YOU SUGGESTING WE SHOULD BORROW A PHRASE FROM THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS? URGH!!!!

We're better than that. We can come up with a better nickname to describe Gasol-Bynum. After all, Gasol-Bynum will be better than Duncan-Robinson.

GO LAKERS!

Somebody (wink to Pig Miller and Charles) needs to beat David Lee with a bag of oranges while screaming "What's the frequency, Kenneth? What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

Synchronize watches! One, two, three... go!

GO LAKERS!

Jon K

The Two Trees honestly, doesn't have much scare factor. Of course either does The Two Towers, nor the Twin Towers.

But our leader Kobe says we need a new name, and by gone-it, if Kobe wants a new name then we need a name.

Hey Tom,
How about 45 Magnum? (Big guys at the 4 & 5)

Twin Towers was first used in Houston with Ralph Sampson & The Dream.

Robert Chen

Kobe as Aragon, sounds about right to me.

But that would make PJ, Gandor the Grey.

Farmar would have to be Freudo

Ariza, Legolas

And Bynum's agent Lee would be Golum "AB, my precious! Must have my precious!"

How about the Nickname "The Twin Titans" or something to that effect? I really don't like the whole Seqoia nickname thing at all, dont know why thought hehe.

I cant wait till Bynum and Gasol become acustomed to eachothers playing styles and they really become a defensive force. Speaking of Defense, I really like the way Kobe has been playing the last few games, which he has focused more on defense and his shot selection hsa been excellent. The only thing about that is that he will probably (I hope not) play this way only until the regular season begins.

Last suggestion for the evening.

"Two Headed Monster" from Sesame Street.

http://tinyurl.com/5vcgky

Dynamic Duo sounds better.

For Farmar-Vujacic-Ariza-Odom maybe the fantastic four instead of the bench mob?

-blitz

"After all, Gasol-Bynum will be better than Duncan-Robinson."

That determines to be seen Jon K. As much as the Spurs are our rivals both Duncan and Robinson were juggernaut defensive forces (Duncan winning tons of All Defensive All teams that may catch up or even surprass Kareem's number of all defensive teams plus The Admiral won Defensive Player of the Year).

Duncan also will rank as the Greatest Power Forward in NBA history (he won over Malone and Barkley in my book). The Admiral? Top 10 center for sure though Wilt-Russell-Kareem-Hakeem-Shaq are still better than David.

Gasol-Bynum still remains to be seen but they show very great promise. Gasol does have many of Duncan's offensive moves save for the bank shot while Drew still has to show he can score over 20ppg for ONE SEASON and still be a defensive force.

Other than that, cant' wait for the season to come, as much but hey Charlotte Bobcats tomorrow down in San Diego. For all Laker fans down there in Diego Stay Classy!

-blitz

Gasol's offensive repertoir is so sweet, now all we need is for bynum to bring that bitter force to our defense

i think we should call em

sweet n sour ...

I can't wait for the season to begin!

This is going to be an amazing season for Kobe, Phil and the Lakers.

Kobe is the best, and Phil is the best. PERIOD. Now that we have all the pieces, we will see something special.

Mitch has not gotten enough credit for pulling off the Trevor Ariza trade last year. Finding a taker for Brian Cook was great by itself, but adding a promising young SF made the deal even better. If Ariza develops better handles and a more consistent jumpshot, he could be our poor man's version of Scottie Pippen - a true point forward who could create his own shot and take some of the playmaking load off of Kobe. But then again, I've said that many times about Devean George in the past.

Vman,
"Bynum has 2.5 (college + pros) years of basketball"

Where did Drew play his college ball?

0 + 2.5 = 2.5

Thirty2

Thanks for your post on the thread a few days ago.I really enjoyed that conversation.Always enjoyed your contributions to the blog...You're australian then?

Nice try by the way but no way am I talking cricket with an aussie...nope not a chance in hell

Yippeee know thy enemy is back.This is quality...
Now let me get this straight...The Thunder (with you on
the crappy name by the way)...the thunder were second
in TOTAL rebounds and 5th in rebounds
ALLOWED...thats alot of rebounds which can be partly explained by their crappy shooting but since presumably their defence is bad how come theres so many available rebounds in their games....is it because they are so bad the other teams benchwarmers are playing half the game?


http://www.impressivebuildings.com/2008/06/petronas-towers/

No way are they becoming the twin towers....no way no way!

How about 'The Petronas Pair'..I feel this has potential for tapping into the asian market which seems to be what everyones after in the NBA right now.The bridge that connects the two towers could symbolise Kobe's presence on the team as the binding presence on the team.

I like this building by the way.Ive been up it and it is impressive absolutely befitting a lakers nickname.

Any K bros please get that out there in the sports journo and lakers circles and I'll trademark it.You guys can have a cut.

ex

I would prefer a 5pt or more lead to be more honest!


Portland's long tall lineup looks quicker than ours. Oden, Aldridge, Outlaw, Fernandez and Roy are formidable. Our bench and Kobe are the difference but that first game will speak volumes for both teams.

REGARDING "TWIN TOWERS"

Incidentally, wasn't it Houston that first had that name? And they vanquished us...

My idea

The 4-5 punch.

Of course taken from the common saying, 1-2 punch.


The Swat Team

We become what we pretend to be.

It ain't Tolkien but it works with The Bench Mob.

Fatty,

You're right "The Two Trees" don't have much of a scare factor, but I do love J.R.R. Tolkien and in "The Silmarillion" the Two Trees shine with the light of God prior to the creation of the physical world, which is cool, and they are considered the two most magnificent objects in the world.

Still, scare factor is important. I think we need to focus our collective genius on a proper nickname for the Gasol-Bynum combo as well as the Gasol-Bynum-Odom combo and the Gasol-Bynum-Mihm-Mbenga-Rad Vlad-Odom-Powell group of giants. Some short name needs to created to strike fear and awe into the hearts of our opponents.

GO LAKERS!

Ex

Now that you mention it, "0" accurately reflects my retention of those 4 years.

Fatty,

"The Two Headed Monster" is the best name I've heard so far, especially since Bynum's nickname is "The Beast."

Some suggestions....

1. The Two-Headed Monster
2. .45 Magnum (also good, clever)
3. The Gargantuas
4. The Hydra (could be the name for the collection of bigs, you cut off one head and two grow back).
5. Mongo Smash! (I just like saying that.)
6. The Two Trees
7. The Forest
8. The Sequoias
9. Stampede of the Giants
10. The Great Lakes
11. Giants of the Hardwood
12. The Nightmare
13. The Bonebreak Crue
14. The Forest of Tall Trees
15. The Rush
16. The Big Bad
17. The Spider (Eight Limbs of Trouble)
18. The Unbreakable

GO LAKERS!

kobeblitz,

"After all, Gasol-Bynum will be better than Duncan-Robinson."

Yes, you caught my optimism speaking as opposed to my reason. Duncan-Robinson were very good and deserved the historic nickname of "The Twin Towers". While I do believe that Gasol-Bynum has the potential to be as good as "The Twin Towers", if they are AS good as Duncan-Robinson, with the rest of the lineup we have, then we have a Dynasty in the making.

And that's good enough for me.

GO LAKERS!

Good morning Mamba24, Charles & the fabulous Laker morning CRUE!

GAME DAY BABY!!!!

It's funny how because this team has soooo much potential & promise this year, we're all getting geeked over the pre-seaon - lol!!! Oh well - just another fabulous day to be a Laker fan.

Regarding our "not to be called twin towers" - I'll throw my vote in for Dynamic Duo. From what I've seen so far, and what potential we know exists, there should be a lot of BLAM - POW - SLAM - BLOCK going on!

GO LAKERS!

Fatty,

I also like "Lords of the Ring".

GO LAKERS!

Laker Tom,

Niners finally move on and get rid of Nolan. Long overdue, but Singletary won't get us to the playoffs. He should just focus on the defensive end and let Mike Martz run the offense.

Back to Lakers...

Larry Brown and the Bobcats are coming to San Diego to play the Lakers tonight. Should be fun.

Lakers by 20!!

dan

lol Gasol-Bynum thing I still have reservations on Jon K.

Gasol and Bynum like I said still has to have not only the offense of both Duncan and Robinson but especially the defense. Gasol is a solid defender and Bynum does have the potential but it still remains a work in progress (don't get me wrong though, Timmy is the better defender and Bynum will have to show what it takes to be even near the admiral's level).

Gaso-Bynum will be determined in the season.

-blitz

lol Gasol-Bynum thing I still have reservations on Jon K.

Gasol and Bynum like I said still has to have not only the offense of both Duncan and Robinson but especially the defense. Gasol is a solid defender and Bynum does have the potential but it still remains a work in progress (don't get me wrong though, Timmy is the better defender and Bynum will have to show what it takes to be even near the admiral's level).

Gasol-Bynum will be determined in the season.

-blitz

[This might be a repost since I accidently hit post before I could finish typing "Gasol" :( ]

Jon,

"17. The Spider (Eight Limbs of Trouble)"

LOL!!

The Los Angeles ArachnaKobia's

dan

Jon K & Fatty,

Twin Towers have been overused by many teams. The two trees can refer to dwarf lemon trees. How about making it something originated from California nature that stood the test of time, durability, brush fires and logging businessmen but still standing, I'm referring to the Sequioa (Bynum) tree found in Central California and Redwood (Gasol) tree Northern California.

justanothermambafan,

I'm liking "The Dynamic Duo."

GO LAKERS!

Methinks we're going to beat us down some Bobcats this evening.

Bobcats. Phfst! What a lame-ass name. Raptors, Bobcats, and Thunder all ridiculous names. The Bobcats sounds like the name of a grade school softball team. I half-expect a bunch of fifth graders in baseball caps to show up tonight against the Lakers.

I wonder if Michael Jordan had any role in naming that team. That guy may have been a great player, but he is in the Isiah Thomas-league of NBA administrators.

GO LAKERS!

Well, you know what they say about Oklahoma City... There are
only two things that come from there.

I think I would have gone with the Steers if I were them.

 
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