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Know thy enemy: San Antonio Spurs

Last Season: 54-28.  First in the Southwest Division.  Third in the Western Conference.
Key Additions: Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff, Keith Bogans.  Drafted DeJuan Blair.
Key Subtractions: Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, Kurt Thomas, Drew Gooden
, Ime Udoka
 
Adaptation-6 As a professional courtesy, whenever I ask a blogger to provide content for ours, I go out of my way to emphasize that my request shouldn't become a burden.  After all, that writer may be juggling a job or two beyond his blogging duties.  Believe me, I know that particular drill.  Thus, I don't want a favor for Lakers Blog to feel like some mammoth albatross of a writing assignment hanging around their neck.  Thus, when I tapped Pounding the Rock's Wayne Vore for some tidbits about the San Antonio Spurs, I offered very specific instructions: DO NOT feel obligated to give me 2000 words for each question.  Vore's response?   

"If you think you're aren't getting 2000 words for each of these, you don't understand how excited Spurs fans are for this season."

Very well, then.

Andrew Kamenetzky: The Spurs' pickup of Richard Jefferson is being labeled by some analysts as the offseason's best Richard Jefferson droves move.  How well do you see  RJ fitting in and how dangerous does he make the Spurs this season?  In particular, I think he's terrific insurance for what feels (unfortunately) like the inevitable Manu injury.  Do you anticipate any issues with the Big Three becoming a Big Four?  In terms of balance, egos, etc?  Or will everyone gladly co-exist?

        Wayne Vore: Immaculately.  I just don’t see an issues with touches and a Big Four.  I think a couple interesting things have happened that will help.  One, Manu (Ginobli) flat out stated at Media Day that Tony (Parker) was the offensive leader of the team.  He said it as the lead-in to answering a question about how much Tim (Duncan) has left in the tank.  Manu said it just naturally happened.  Two, RJ said right up front that when the Spurs acquired him that his role was to be defensive stopper.  I finally got to watch him play last Tuesday against the Thunder and he looked great.  You could tell that he was really focused on working hard against Durant. 

Lastly, I don’t think the Spurs would have brought him in if they thought it would be an issue in any way.  They don’t take those kind of gambles.

Speaking of the Big Three, all have dealt with various health issues over the last season and offseason.  How have they looked so far?  I know Ginobli was held out a bit during preseason.  Does that create any concern?  Duncan swam during the summer- his original sport!- to slim down and lessen the wear on his body.  Can you see a difference?

        The Big Three have all been held out, but everybody over 23 has been held out.  Even Jefferson.  TonyTim Duncan shoots a hook shot looks great.  He sprained an ankle very early last season, but has been healthy ever since.  Well, I guess he banged a knee or something this summer at EuroBasket Qualifying, but he’s at full speed.  Manu looks good physically.  He doesn’t look great basketball-wise.  More than any other player on the Spurs, he is a rhythm guy.  It will take him a while to get his rhythm.  I expect a fully brilliant Manu about the first of December. 

     Tim is hard to judge.  He’s wearing a knee brace now.  When I saw him play, I didn’t think he looked  really athletic and mobile.  Then I realized that I had NEVER seen Tim play from the front row and that I’ve NEVER seen Tim be athletic and mobile.  He’s just always quietly effective.  If I have a concern, it is that his knee isn’t 100%.  We’ll never know if it isn’t and he’s hard to judge because he’s never been a high flier.  I do know this.  He is in fantastic shape.  He’s dropped about 20 pounds from last season.  I got the chance to see him from about five feet away in the locker room and he is ripped.  His body fat has to be under 2%.  It really caught me by surprise.  For a brief moment, I thought it was an internet ad and almost said, “Did you really do that in four weeks”?

DeJuan Blair is being talked up as the steal of the draft.  How impressive has he looked and how much time do you think he'll get on a veteran, elite team?

        Holy cow DeJuan Blair has been good.  Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told me at Summer League that we were going to love him as he shook his head in disgust at the teams that passed on Blair.  I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but I think Jonathon was trying to tell me, “Really, you guys have no idea how good this guy is." 

        He’s not just a physical bully under the basket.  Two things about Blair really stand out besides his motor and rebounding ability.  One, he has fantastic feet.  His footwork is tremendous when attacking offensively.  He gets a great wide base, he spins, he fakes, he leverages his low center of gravity, and he is quick.  A lot of bigger men will have a hard time defending him in the blocks.  Two, he has unbelievable DeJuan Blair shoots a layup hands.   They are crazy strong and big which you would assume from somebody who rebounds like he does.  But, the thing that makes him special, is that he has great touch around the basket.  He’s a natural scorer.

        I’d say he’s a guaranteed first team rookie for another team.  On the Spurs, he’s going to have a hard time getting minutes.  This will probably be THE story (besides health) of the Spurs season.  Popovich wanting to give minutes to McDyess and Ratliff so they can learn the system for the playoffs, and Blair’s play forcing Popovich to give him more minutes.  Already every question from the media is about Blair.  I expect it to continue.  He’s got special written all over him and he has a mammoth chip on his shoulder.

(AK's note: Vore's take on the Blair/Pop/Dice-Ratliff situation isn't just an interesting observation.  It reinforces a point BK and I have repeatedly made when people claim that "unlike other coaches, Phil Jackson won't play rookies" or "unlike other coaches, Phil Jackson prefers veterans and hates taking chances on young players."  Aside from said claims often being grossly exaggerated, the truth is that EVERY coach would rather play a veteran over a rookie/undeveloped player, particularly on a very good team.  Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule- Courtney Lee's debut with Orlando last season providing a nice example- but overwhelmingly, most coaches will lean on experience over inexperience every day of the week.  It's not a "PJ thing.") 


Another very good pick up was Antonio McDyess.  How is he fitting in and how instrumental can he be in keeping Duncan fresh and mentoring Blair?


        I don’t watch much basketball besides the Spurs, so McDyess has been off my radar for a couple years.  I don’t know what he can bring.  So far, he’s looked solid but not spectacular and that is what his role will be.  If he’s scoring 8-10 points per game and grabbing 8 rebounds per game then the Spurs are ecstatic.  I think his role is more than "keeping Duncan fresh."  I think his role is "making us much better."  He’s a better rebounder than any of the big men we had last year and I think he gives us a chance to be more aggressive.  That needs some explaining, but it comes later on.

George Hill's rookie season was a very pleasant surprise.  How big a step can he take next season and how important is it for the team that he does?

        George was a nice surprise last year, and he looks so much better this year it is scary.  Popovich has repeatedly called Hill the best player in camp and his play in the games has supported that claim.  I could not be higher on George.  His defense really stood out last year and he struggled on offense.  It’s very early, but it looks like he figured the offense thing out.  The only thing keeping me from being even more enthusiastic is the story of (Jordan) Farmar last year.  Everybody was raving about how good he looked in preseason and that he was going to be huge, then he ended up losing playing time to Shannon Brown.  I’m betting George is great, but I also have the preseason crazies.

Call me a bandwagoneer, but I consider age and injury (which, to some degree, go hand in hand) the biggest issues for SA.  I mentioned this when I posed questions to you last season.  You responded by saying you "didn't give a rat's ass" about age, since every team ages every season.  Do you still feel the same way, given how hard the injury bug hit the Spurs in 2009?  What are your concerns about this team, if any?  Are there any weaknesses that didn't get addressed?

        Yeah, I know, I know.  Strong words always come back to bite you, but I swear it wasn’t age it was bad luck.  Ha.  I guess I still don’t care about the Spurs age.  I care about their health.  When you care about age, you are talking about whether guys have lost a step or not, and whether they can still perform athletically at a high level.  In that sense, I’m not concerned at all.  Injuries?  Yeah, that’s all anybody talks about.  You have to be healthy at the end of the regular season.  If they had a weakness from last year that they didn’t address in the offseason, I’d say George Hill addressed it himself.  The Spurs were really needy at the backup point guard position last season.  After that, I guess I would say a lockdown wing defender.  RJ won’t be a Bruce Bowen, but those are kind of hard to come by.

Even if you aren't concerned about age, it appears the front office is.  They threw caution to their typically "cost conscious" wind and absorbed Jefferson's contract, signed Dice, etc.  Those moves feel like an acknowledgment of Big Three's window is shutting and last season's first round exit.  Do you agree with my observation?  Do you agree with the notion of a window shutting

        I think the front office saw two things.  Yes, the window is starting to close.  Tim Duncan said it straight out at media day that his window was closing so I think you can consider that an organization-level feeling.  However, I think there was a little bit more to it than that.  I think they also saw a buyer’s market.  This isn’t the Blazers, Nuggets or Mavs of years past going way over the cap to have mediocre to mid-level playoff teams.  I think the Spurs believe they put themselves right at the top of the league with a handful of teams that have a chance to win.  As a businessman, when you take a risky move it had better be one that Popovich-thumb-200x160separates you from others.  I think the Spurs did just that.

(AK's Note: Very interesting point about "the buyer's market."  I never looked at San Antonio's moves that way, but the rationale makes sense.)


I haven't seen Pop this preseason.  Please tell me grew that crazy hillbilly beard again.  If not, any  word of plans to do so.  I know we were both fans of that look.

        CastawayUnfortunately, the Castaway beard is not back.  I haven’t got up the nerve, yet, to ask him about his grooming.  Maybe a little later in the season.

 (AK's Note: "Castaway beard."  That's solid.  Much better than "crazy hillbilly beard."  I wish I'd come up with that one.  Damn you, Wayne Vore!!!)

What are your impressions of this year's team?

        Dangerous.  Very dangerous.  I think the Spurs are significantly better on both ends of the floor this
year.  You need to know two stats about the ’09 Spurs.  They were by far the best defensive rebounding team and by far the worst offensive rebounding team.  I don’t think anybody would have guessed the first one.  The Spurs grabbed 78% of their defensive rebounds.  Nobody else was significantly close, statistically speaking (Orlando was next at 76%).  The Spurs only grabbed 22% of offensive rebounds and nobody was even close to that bad.   I think the Spurs commitment to defensive, both keeping guys back to defensive rebound and not trying to offensive rebound, hurt their offense a lot.  If Tony Parker wasn’t scoring on his one-man fast break then the Spurs weren’t scoring in the open court.  Therefore, I think the additions of McDyess, Blair, and Ratliff will allow the Spurs to be more aggressive about leaking an extra man out to run the floor.

        In the offensive sets, I think teams are going to have a lot of trouble defending the Spurs.  We had too many guys last year that were one-dimensional.  We had a LOT of spot up shooters who were ineffective off the dribble.  Once you forced Tim or Tony to pass, all you had to do was run at whoever caught the ball.  (Matt) Bonner, (Michael) Finley, Udoka, (Roger) Mason, Bowen.  Did any of those guys scare you once you forced them off the 3-point line and they were attacking off the dribble (add to those guys Oberto and Kurt Thomas)?  No?  Well, they scared me.  I think that changes now with Jefferson and Hill and Blair.  We have additional guys that can attack you from the inside.  I think it may be a subtle thing and none of those individuals will have great numbers, but the floor balance and diversity will be pretty overwhelming for a lot of teams.

        Which gets back to the earlier points about health and rest.  I believe the Spurs will be a very deep and diverse team on the offensive end this year.  They won’t have to work Tim hard.  They won’t have to work Manu hard.  Last year, our non-Big Three were all role players who fit in with a certain skill.  None of them could create a shot.  None of them really could even make a play defensively.  We were hoping at best to play you even.  Now, I think we have a bunch of guys who can make plays.  The addition of Jefferson gives the ability to always have two very good offensive players on the court at all times.  Hill, Blair, McDyess, and Ratliff can make the hustle plays.  Block shots.  Get steals.  Get offensive rebounds.  Yes, I know McDyess and Ratliff are old and may not be your typical energetic young second unit,  but remember, I’m comparing them to Oberto and Thomas and Matt Bonner and Ime Udoka and Jacque Vaughn.

         We’ll still rely on the Big Three or Four to win in the end.  Those guys are great players and you win with great players.  I think we have a far better supporting cast that may be able to make some regular season games against lower level teams easier, and help make plays in the playoffs.

        Right now, I think the Lakers and Spurs are far and away the top 2 teams in the West.  I’d put the Lakers just above the Spurs.  I think the Spurs have to prove they can get back to playing really good defense (which took a big step back last year) and that they can get a several new people comfortable in the system.  I think the Lakers have to prove that (Ron) Artest can fit in.  When you are at that level of nitpicky in pointing out a team’s weaknesses, you are just looking for something to say to fill out the ‘negatives’ box on the form.  Injuries will change the landscape of the season.  They weed out some teams every year.  They got the Celtics (and to a lesser extent the Spurs) last year.  Who will they get this year?

Another very solid scouting report from PTR (and you have to respect Vore's lack of "homer-ism," placing the Lakers ahead of the Spurs).  It's hard to disagree with any claim that, health provided, San Antonio is primed to at least push the Lakers for "Conference Best" honors.  Having said that, however, I'm predicting any comparability in talent won't be reflected by comparability in record, because, as Vore noted, "they won't have to work Tim hard." 

I would actually take it one step further.  To some degree, I think the Spurs will be working anybody too hard.  Not that games will get the "Cliff Clavin" treatment, but in order to make a playoff push, San Antonio needs healthy bodies.  What they don't need, however, doesn't need home court advantage.  Five members of the team have at least one ring, and I don't picture Jefferson, McDyess or Ratliff getting rattled by boos.  Because of the way I'm picturing San Antonio's season being paced, their record in mid-April might not reflect how dangerous they'll be in the days that follow. 

If the San Antonio Spurs of the last ten years were a book, their author would be someone with the respect of a Mark Twain, so I'm not sure why anybody would judge them by their cover (i.e, their W-L clip).  But if you happen to be one of those who geeks out on book jackets, check yourself before reading too much into this novel's cover art.  It may not immediately catch your eye, but there's likely to be something worthwhile brewing on the page.

Prediction: 53-29.  First in the Southwest Division.  Fourth in the Western Conference.

AK


Photo: Richard Jefferson drives the lane.  Credit: Jerry Lara/Express-News
Photo: Tim Duncan shoots a hook shot: Credit: Kin Man Hui/Express-News
Photo: DeJuan Blair shoots a layup.  Credit: Jerry Lara/Express-News

 
Comments () | Archives (42)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Last year we have a phoenix fan posting here everyday, now we have a celtics, I am tired to name it.

It is damn silly to post on other fans' blog everyday. I can understand you go to some other fans' blog once a while to see what others are talking.

But his behavior to me looks like:

A Sore loser!!!

AK,

"Fourth in the Western Conference."

Really? Wow. I'd be shocked if they were third in the Western Conference, but fourth? Really?

Great players. Great coach. Quality franchise. Depth.

The Spurs are a true rival, but I respect them unlike any other franchise in the league.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

AK/BK,

Why didn't the Lakers pick a "physical bully" like Blair in the draft? There's no question he would've provided another banger down low and add some much needed toughness and in the paint to go along with the toughness that Artest will bring as well. Sure, I understand all about our financial situation with the luxury tax and all, but Blair was the player I was hoping our Lakers would pick up because of physical game. Sometimes our Laker scouts and coaching staff get it wrong and our past drafts with the exception of Bynum(Farmar hasn't impressed me much so far)have been terrible especially when you consider who we've passed on these past few years.

Is Pau and Andrew playing on opening night??? Thanks.

Jon K,

I'm not sure I follow your comment. Did you think 4 was high or low?

AK

I have nothing but good things to say about the Spurs organization and the Spurs fans. I'd have to say that respect between the Lakers and Spurs is mutual. Certainly, these are the 2 teams that dominated the NBA since the Michael Jordan blip of the 90s. They've been contenders for a LONG time regarding the current NBA. I don't think that'll change soon.

They certainly have reloaded, and I'm more concerned with them than any other team in the league. I like their system, their talent, their ages, athleticism, and their lack of ego or pretense some of the more newly contending teams seem to have. Mentally, as long as they have Popovich and Duncan at the helm, with Ginobili and Parker as co-leaders, they will be a threat.

Pretty fair assessment by the Spurs guy. I'd only add that if Bynum becomes a force--I'm not talking about the level of Dwight Howard, just a constant threat around the basket at both ends--then it would decisively tip the odds in the Lakers' favor. To me, the key is that Gasol has been able to neutralize Duncan enough to give the Lakers the upper hand.

But you can never count out the Spurs. Aside from their obvious HOF-worthy playoff experience, their biggest asset is their level-headedness, which to me is their one advantage over the Lakers and an even bigger advantage over the Celtics. While the Lakers are definite WC favorites, a Spurs upset is not out of the question and neither is beating whoever they face from the EC.

Nemaia Faletogo,

As far as taking Blair, beyond the finances involved with wanting to avoid signing a draft pick (Remember, the Lakers have a VERY high payroll), from a practical standpoint, Blair could have tough time finding minutes on that team. The Lakers have three very high quality bigs (Bynum, Gasol, and LO) all either just entering their prime or not yet reached it. Throw in Artest's ability to play the four and Blair could find himself glued to the bench for a while. There's just not much opportunity or need. Don't get me wrong. I'd love to have him on the team, but you can't get EVERY player.

I have to strongly disagree with you that the Lakers have done a poor job drafting in recent years. Save perhaps the Spurs (arguably the best in the league at picking), I challenge you to find a team that's done better for themselves while continually drafting in the low teens, 20's and the second round. With the exception of Brian Cook (I was stunned they didn't take Josh Howard) and maybe The Critter (who actually played okay for a rook while in LA but has since struggled), it's hard to look at any pick and say, "Player X was the obvious pick and they didn't take him." I also don't think it's fair to criticize them for not taking a guy like Mo Williams who slipped very late into the second round. Every other team passed on him for a while, too. He just turned out to be considerably better than expected. But by and large, the Lakers haven't had many "you gotta be kidding me" calls. Really scrutinize the drafts and tell me if you feel differently.

Even if you're not impressed with Farmar (since you brought him up), save Craig Smith and Paul Millsap (both of whom fell into the second round, the latter quite far), there's absolutely nobody who'd have been a better pick. It's not even debatable.

As for opening day, it's still early, but if I had to guess, Drew will play and Pau won't. We'll obviously post if we hear any specific news.

AK

LakerTom -“That is why I find those Know Thy Enemy discussions boring and nearly moot. The only team that is going to beat this Lakers team is the Lakers themselves.”

Wayne Vore –“I don’t watch much basketball besides the Spurs, so McDyess has been off my radar for a couple years. I don’t know what he can bring.”

I find both of these statements to be a bit ignorant. LakerTom how do you think you know so much about the NBA when you seem so Lakercentric? Because you use to ref rec league games? You said earlier in the summer that you don’t have time to follow the rest of the NBA because you spend so much time watching the Lakers and reviewing tape (funny) and blogging.

Wayne Vore is a blogger for a NBA team, yet he doesn’t watch much besides the Spurs, so he doesn’t know what McDyess brings? Yea got to respect his point of view, lol.
You don’t have to watch every game or any of the games to follow and know something about other teams and players. You just can’t have your head stuck in the LA Times blog(or Spurs), you can’t just watch Laker games then run to the computer to let everyone know how smart and insightful you are about the Lakers.

You might want to watch some NBA fastbreak, TNT Overtime, or NBA TV and read what others are saying on other internet sites. It seems to me that a lot of know it all’s about the Lakers don’t know much about the NBA. If they did, they wouldn’t even mention the Cavs, wouldn’t care so much about the Celts, and would be more worried about the depth added by the Magic and Spurs.

AK/BK
I thought the Know thy enemy discussions were very insightful and worth the read. I especially was looking forward to the Spurs since they are the one and only team that worry me. It is a lot better than talking about the future PG for 2011, Luke Walton, how great Bynum will be someday, how we hate the Celtics who have been irrelevant for 20+ years, and how overrated Lebronz is.

Don't worry about the Spurs. They're old and washed up! Duncan can get liposuction and Ginobili can get hair plugs but it don't make them any younger.

John K-

I follow, 4 wow! Who in the west besides the Lakers is a better team then the Spurs? The Spurs will be right behind the Lakers. I respect the Spurs more than any team in the NBA, and have for the last 10 years-never count out the Spurs. As far as the old comments about the Celtics and Spurs, that is just dumb. I'd take an old healthy team over a young (Portland) team any day.

The Spurs are the only team in the NBA that can match up with the Lakers in every position including coaching and FO.

I see S.A. as a bigger threat to L.A. than Boston, Cleveland or Orlando, they just happen to be in the same conference. It can all boil down to which team has the healthier Big 4 players come time for their playoff series.
Will Kobe, Gasol, Odom and Bynum be healthier than Duncan, Parker, Manu and Jefferson?

If any of the LA Big 4 are out due to injury and the Spurs Big 4 are all healthy, S.A. wins. Now if all Big 4 in both teams are healthy, LA wins.

I think the key will be LA team defense being able to funnel Parker into the LA C/PF umbrella. And yet the LA defensive perimeter has to make sure Parker can not pass out to Manu, Jefferson or other outside shooters.

In my previous post, I mistakenly left out Artest in LA's Big 4. We don't have a Big 4 but a Big 5 and that's another key to beating SA.

Portalnd or even Denver might have a better regular season record than the Spurs, so we can even meet S.A. earlier in the 2nd round of the playoffs rather then the WC Finals w/c increases chances of being healthy.

Another plus for LA versus SA, is that Duncan is never as effective versus the Lakers compared to what he is vs. other teams, because our 2 Bigs: Bynum/Gasol, Gasol/Odom or Bynum/Odom are good enough to counter him.


VMan.


>>> Great minds syncing, a great way to begin a week.


And it’s not just you and I. One of the impressive accomplishments of this blog is how the level of basketball intelligence of Lakers fans has increased in direct proportion to the time they spend reading and posting on the blog. Most of the time, we don’t even need polls to tell which way the blo9-sync-think is leaning regarding a certain player or situation. Just browsing the blog will give you a bird’s eye view of reality backed by supporting stats, facts, observations, insights, and analyses.
-
Blog-sync-think is telling us that this Lakers team is going to be a full-blown juggernaut by the time the playoffs start next year. And it will not take the mainstream East Coast biased sports media long before they jump on our bandwagon. In the end, it won’t matter who we play in the playoffs or who survives the battle for the East. All we have to do is JUST PLAY OUR GAME.


Tom


I agree with "NBAforever" on this one. The Spurs will be very good this year, IF, Manu and Duncan can stay healthy. I think they can still be good without Manu, but if Duncan has extended periods of time on the bench, then dropping to the 7th or 8th spot isn't a longshot. The Lakers, on the other hand, are so deep this year that it doeswn't really matter that Gasol will miss the opener and maybe more games. Also, if Bynum does get injured, again, then the addition af Artest will show how much of a great move it really was to sign him. I predict a Lakers 4-2 beating of Boston in the Finals. GO LAKERS!

I think everyone is reading into AK's "4th in the western conference" pick a little too much. If you reviewed the whole post, you would realize AK himself said the Spurs' W/L record shouldn't matter to anyone. Only that, barring injury, they're going to be a very dangerous team in the playoffs no matter which seed they get.

StillHaveThoseBallons & other Celtic trolls,

Normally I don't interact with you, however you responded to
something I wrote. So this one time ...

Let's talk about age ....

I mentioned the age of the Celtics and you came back with statistics. Let's
get to the nittygritty.

KG will turn 34 during the playoffs.
Ray Allen will turn 35 after this season.
Rasheed Wallace is 35
Paul Pierce is 32

Now you can talk about any and every other player you want, but are you
*really* trying to tell me that these 4 are not *THE* most critical to your
team winning? Of course not. You lost KG last year and you didn't make the
conference finals; not to mention the NBA finals. To clarify, the above are
your big 3 + your 6th man. They are the leaders of your team.

Kobe just turned 31.
Artest will turn 30.
Pau Gasol is 29.
Lamar Odom will turn 30.

The avg. age or our big 4 is 30. The average age of your big 4 is 34.
[ Technically it's 33.75, but I'm rounding up. ]

We are younger than you at SG, PF & SF, in terms of veteran players.
Our 6th man is younger than yours as well.

If you would like to compare the training habits of Kobe (2 scoring titles,
1 MVP & 1 finals MVP) with Paul Pierce feel free. It is fairly well documented
that Kobe is the hardest worker in the NBA. Feel free to ask D-Wade, Boozer,
J-Kidd and other members of Team USA. Oddly enough, while Kobe was
winning a gold medal Pierce & KG were resting and it didn't help them at all.

re: the age of our bench and your bench. It doesn't matter. From an age
perspective, both teams are young enough to go the distance.

re: the aged, 38 year old PJ Brown. Feel free to sign him again. Yes, you won
in 2008. Yes, you beat us when our starting C was out. Yes you picked up a
trophy when our defensive SF was out with a broken foot. You have not
beaten us when we were healthy. We beat you twice when you were healthy.
We kept our end of the bargain and went back to the NBA finals. You did not
keep your end of the bargain and got beaten by the Orlando Magic.

You will *NOT* make it out of the east. You are old. You are slow. [ except
for Rondo ] You must get past the Freak & the Fat Man. If you get past
David Stern's love child [ LeBron ], you must face the DPOY & the rest of
the Orlando Magic who got better this off season. You will *NOT* make it out
of the east.

The challenge to you and the rest of the universe stands.

I repeat: The trophy is ours. COME AND TAKE IT!

Go Kobe!
Go Lakers!!!

Before I veer off topic, I think 4th is too low.. I think the Spurs finish higher than that.

On a different topic altogether, how was blogfest 2009 the other day?

I also give a thumbs up and jump to the defense of the preseason KYE. And the bloggers analyses, if obviously biased, are still deeper and more forthwright than the average newspaper/SI previews of yore.

Of course, for some reason I thought this one was a snoozer. Full of ability, quality talent and with obvious veteran experience, business like and very very solid technically. But boring as all heck. And the review was kind of dull too.

STILL ALL YADDA YADDA.

Hey, I like it hobbitmage! You're in mid-season form already.

olf

I don't understand why people complain about other teams' fans post here. If you want them to stop, complaining about them is the last thing you should do.


NBA4ever,


>>> That is why I find those Know Thy Enemy discussions boring and nearly moot. The only team
>>> that is going to beat this Lakers team is the Lakers themselves. –LakerTom.
-
>>> LakerTom how do you think you know so much about the NBA when you seem so Lakercentric?
>>> Because you use to ref rec league games? You said earlier in the summer that you don’t have
>>> time to follow the rest of the NBA because you spend so much time watching the Lakers and
>>> reviewing tape (funny) and blogging. – NBA4ever.
-
LOL. You nailed it. It obviously was my experience as a rec league ref that has made me such an expert on the NBA. If you have never officiated at any level, you wouldn’t understand what it requires to do that job well. Good referees have to be basketball savvy and played in order to call a good game. If you know the game, you know the game. If you did, you would understand what I am saying.

I never claimed to be a basketball expert and I sure don’t spend any time watching film unless it is my grandson’s CYO games or I am replaying some great Lakers games. If you religiously watch other NBA teams play besides the Lakers, you may have better knowledge and information about them than I do. Of course, what you do with that information and in what context are another story.

What I am is a pretty smart guy who has passionately played, coached, officiated, and watched a lot of great basketball for longer than you have probably been alive. I know the game. My missed calling was probably to be a high school basketball coach and English teacher. But I got married and got a family, career, and life and I had to start making some decisions about what was important. There are very few mulligans in real life. You usually ride the train you first got on to the end of line.

Bottom line, it is my judgment that the Lakers will have an easier time than last year winning the Western Conference and the NBA Championship, provide they avoid injury to their top 6 players. And while I may totally ignore what Memphis or Atlanta is doing, I pretty much watch and follow every move that San Antonio, Cleveland, Orlando, and Boston make and frankly, none of those moves will amount to enough to even keep up with the improvement of the Lakers due to a healthy Bynum and the Artest swap for Ariza. That’s why rehashing them is not worth the effort to me. :-)


Tom

know thy enemy is ourselves. we get into silly arguments with visitors, with fellow laker fans, as if something will be accomplished out of those endless discussions of "i know better", we get into chest thumping exercise on the blog 24/7 as if we're insecure with our status. why not act as an underdog, a low profile pretending to have smush/kwame/cookie... keep an eye on the prize which is the repeat. all teams are fresh in the race track with the new stallions paraded in the blogs, no need to shout our bets, we want wins, wins and wins. let's be more professional and treat the kicking of butts silently w/o noise or whimper just break the 33 consecutive wins record of the lakers '73. actions are louder than words.

There is no other team in the NBA whose 5 best players have the talent level of Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, Odom and Artest combined. The problem is the Laker 5 don't normally play as a unit and ideally a team wants to have its 5 best players on the floor at crunch time or at the end of close games.

The Laker 5 can be a matchup nightmare to defend but its also vulnerable to a team with a good fast PG.

One advantage that Boston has over LA is they can put their 5 best players on the floor at the same time. You can bet that Rivers will put Wallace, Garnett, Pierce, Allen and Rondo on the floor at the end of a close playoff game even if they don't start as a unit. Wallace's ability to hit the 3 makes them more dangerous in this situation as well.

Dallas can also put their best 5 players on the floor at end game situations: Dirk as C, Marion as PF, Howard SF, Terry SG and Kidd. These 5 can all hit the 3, so they're even more dangerous than Boston in a close game.

LA does have the possibility of putting Kobe on Rondo or Kidd, and Artest on Allen or Terry, allowing Odom, Gasol and Bynum to be on the floor at the same time at a tight end game. Odom's increasing accuracy at hitting the 3 also makes this combo more possible. Fisher's clutch outside shooting has made him the PG closer the last couple of years. However, Kobe of course has played the PG role in several end game situations and last year, in one regular season game, I remember him making the correct decision 7 consecutive offensive plays as he brought down the ball and basically acted as the PG when LA was coming from behind, reminding me of Joe Montana.

DREW TO PLAY IN OPENER…
-
“On the plus side health-wise, starting center Andrew Bynum (rotator cuff, hamstring) practiced and declared himself a go for the opener and reserve Luke Walton (back) also practiced and should be ready for Tuesday” –OCRegister.com.
-
Tom

Label jars, not people. Ron’s rep is outdated.

If it makes anyone feel better, I have them finishing third in the conference.

BK

First, the Spurs are the team I fear and respect most each year in the west and second, PtR is an awesome blog. Every time I visit I wind up going down some rabbit hole and get lost.

I would put the Spurs at #2. They'll only fall to 4 if Pop paces them that way (plus injuries).

They are the only team that I worry about in the West. Where others see age, I see veteran smarts. Their young talent complements their old guys (Duncan, Ginobili, and McDyess) rather well. Tony Parker is their motor and he's a year more mature, playing towards his peak. Jefferson is a versatile two-way player. I don't see this team getting rattled or playing out of sorts.

And Popovich is equal to Ten-Rings in terms of prowess and poise. So that takes away our advantage against any other team.

Hobbitmage-

I didnt know why you didnt interact with trolls. Ive been trying to figure it out for years but if you dont want to interact with trolls ... dont. I couldnt care less. But now that you did ...

1. "Ray Allen will turn 35 after this season"
Really? I guess he will turn 40 in 5 years.
2. "but are you *really* trying to tell me that these 4 are not *THE* most critical to your
team winning?"
Yes ... Really! Rondo is one of our top 3 most critical to winning.
3. "Yes, you beat us when our starting C was out."
Sounds like an excuse. (I thought only old guys got hurt!) Im sure he woulda scored 40pts in game 6.
4. "Yes you picked up a trophy when our defensive SF was out with a broken foot."
More excuses. (Another one of your young guys getting hurt?)Ask 10 rings why he didnt play him more. BTW we plan on keeping that trophy.

Now I know why you dont interact with us. You were right ... dont interact with us if all you can come up with is meaningless incorrect facts. A year and half later and all you got are those lame excuses?

ITS ME THAT ISNT GONNA INTERACT WITH YOU!


"know thy enemy is ourselves. we get into silly arguments with visitors, with fellow laker fans, as if something will be accomplished out of those endless discussions of "i know better", we get into chest thumping exercise on the blog 24/7 as if we're insecure with our status. why not act as an underdog, a low profile pretending to have smush/kwame/cookie... keep an eye on the prize which is the repeat. all teams are fresh in the race track with the new stallions paraded in the blogs, no need to shout our bets, we want wins, wins and wins. let's be more professional and treat the kicking of butts silently w/o noise or whimper just break the 33 consecutive wins record of the lakers '73. actions are louder than words.


Posted by: Edwin Gueco | October 25, 2009 at 04:37 PM

-Damn straight.

I'm waiting for the Know thy Enemy "The Los Angeles Lakers" article because we ARE the only team that can beat ourselves. We play determined, aggressive, motivated, precise, clean basketball with a tough defense, and we might as well all get lawn chairs out and stake a good spot out for the parade. No team has our talent. PERIOD !!!

I like SA chances this season. However, it falls second behind the Lakers. They play the game as it should be. They seem to have added the right players to up their level of competancy.

However, they do lack something that the Lakers have, and that is that rabid desire to win another championship. Kobe, Thriller, and the gang want it. The Lakers are the reigning champions, If they want it, they are going to have to bring it on.

hobbitmage -
Boy you showed me! I have no comeback and I feel almost violated. Your words have cut me to the quick, whatever shall I do.

Why do you feel it is okay to whine incessantly for TWO years about Bynum being hurt, but Celtics fans cannot whine about KG and Powe being out for the ECF? The double standard on this paper makes me laugh.

And here's two bits of news for you:
1. Even if you had Bynum in 2008, we would still win. Even if we had KG in 2009, you would still win. That's over now - it's 2010
2. I have it on VERY good authority - and I checked my sources twice, that we DID beat you at full strength in 2008. See, if Bynum didn't get hurt, the Gasol trade is not made. "It wasn't a viable option for the Lakers until Bynum went down. The Lakers thought they were good enough." - says my source.
So, in 2008, Bynum and Gasol do NOT play together. So, you were at full strength, end of story. And anyone who thinks Trevor Ariza would have made ANY difference in 2008 does not know a thing about basketball. Did you watch the same series??? You were LUCKY to win two games. The Celtics outplayed the Lakers in every game. But, that is in the past. As are KG's injuries.

Lastly, once again, you logic is flawed. You said age doesn't matter when it comes to the bench, then you try to use Rasheed Wallace's age against me. ?????? You say PJ Brown (38) made a difference, but Wallace (35 and better than Brown) won't! Again?????????????

Lopsided Laker Logic - we sound intelligent, but really, our facts are way off. Have a great day, hobbitmage, and keep the ill-logic coming. This is funny stuff!!

AK,

I thought fourth was too low. To me the Spurs are clearly the second best team in the Western Conference, maybe the second best team in the NBA.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

hobbitmage,

Starve the Troll.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

The Spurs really are much improved....well at least on paper. Even with all the wear and tear, Tim will be Tim. Tony's gonna penetrate and score like usual. Manu? hmmm, I hope he gets back in the flow of things. RJ is quick, tough and can score at will...nice addition San Antonio....McDyess will provide the interior toughness and occasional scoring with his consistent mid-range game. And I haven't seen that new rookie play thus far, but I've been hearing some very good things.

But now let's get realistic. The Lakers are going to take the crown once again. I mean come on, assuming the Lakers stay healthy, we have a MONSTER LINEUP: Bynum, Gasol, Bryant, Odom, Artest. The Big 5!!! Of course we can't forget about Fisher and how important and instrumental he has been to the Lakers success (both during the Shaq-Kobe era and the Kobe era). The Lakers bench isn't half bad either. But Sasha Vujacic seriously has to GO! He is way overpaid for his inconsistent play on both offense and defense. Please Mitch!! Move Vujacic and get an outside shooter who ACTUALLY MAKES OUTSIDE SHOTS! And I'm crossing my fingers for Ron-Ron to make a smooth transition into the Lakers offensive scheme. On defense, Kobe and Artest have the potential to bring back the Doberman defense that Jordan and Pippen once played. And if Bynum improves his defense a little and covers the paint more effectively, I just don't see how the Lakers don't take the title once again. BACK-2-BACK BABY!

Jon K (and others),

I agree with you that San Antonio could be the second best team in the league, talent-wise. But like I said in the write up (perhaps not clearly enough), I'm predicting their age/injury history issues will prompt Popovich to take the season at a measured pace, with an eye on being fresh for the playoffs, as opposed to racking W's. Their seed is irrelevant, given the team's experience. Thus, I'm guessing members of the Big 3 will sometimes get games off on back to backs and Pop will be willing to take a L to keep everyone intact. He won't push them any harder than needed.

Does that make the fourth place more believable?

AK

FOR YOU CELTIC FANS....

2008, fine.
2009, fine.
2010? are you kidding me?

do you realize we have Artest now guarding Pierce? ..and kobe on allen? this takes a lot of pressure OFF of kobe. your celtics are DONE. who is left on your team that can make huge plays at the end of a game? the only true threat to us is KG, but he wont be enough for you cry babies to win. (cry babies, especially your coach, coc rivers.) we've got too many weapons, kids.

Excellent points! If the Spurs are healthy, they can win the championship. One person below said the Spurs lack the will. I highly doubt that-listen to the interviews. Duncan is pumped; Tony is pumped; Ginobili is pumped! All the Spurs are pumped and are prepared to win it come June.

Awesome blog! I am writing this from San Antonio and thus am a HUGE spurs fan. I am here to represent my home team and I for one CANNOT wait for this season to start. Lots of talent on both teams. Now I say that I "hate the lakers" because i love my spurs to death but do not think for one second that I do not have MAD respect for you guys. I do....LOTS OF IT! And this is what it is all about. Not calling each other names but to admire each others hard work and talent. I will say best of luck to you guys this year. The bottom line is that I am rooting for my Spurs all year and I cannot wait until my Spurs play against you guys. It's going to be a fun year Laker Fans.......see you soon enough....

GO SPURS GO!

THE SPURS ARE THE BEST!!! GO SPURS GO!!! The lakers are so full of themselves and are so egotistic it makes me sick. The Spurs are humble, and love the game and they are the peoples' team. They represent good hearted people with big dreams and that will always strike a chord with people versus the spoiled, Hollywood primadonnas that make up the Lakers. That is why Hollywood is always at the Lakers games--because they are all plastic so they get along really well! HAHA. The Spurs are a team that play good fundamental basketball and strike silently and with precision! GO SPURS GO!


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