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Ranking the Lakers' five biggest off-season needs

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1. Motivation -- With the Lakers' expectation that they would be in the NBA Finals right now en route to their third consecutive championship, don't buy into any premise that it has served as a good teachable moment. The Lakers frankly used too many losses last season to argue that they'd learn from them, but they didn't. That being said, the early playoff elimination will make it easier for players to buy into the tenets of Mike Brown's system and actually take the regular season seriously, because the early elimination provides a tangible consequence of allowing complacency to consume them.

Even after a Lakers championship, the front office still wanted to find ways to tinker with its roster both to cut costs and to breathe new life and energy from outside players who hadn't experienced such success. Management feels more compelled to do that after this season in particular, but the current roster should instantly bring a heavier dose of energy and focus than in other seasons. Most training camps, including last year's, yielded immediate hunger, but it really only had a shelf life of about a month. Once the shine of a new season wore off and fatigue caught up, several Lakers appeared to see the regular season as just an annoyance and wanted to find ways to cut corners whenever possible. The true indicator on whether the Lakers buy into Brown's ideas will happen the minute they hit adversity, not the minute training camp starts.

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2. Health -- With the veteran-laden team the Lakers have, there's no escaping that fatigue and injuries also played a huge part in their unraveling. But this doesn't simply mean all the Lakers need to rest. Kobe Bryant plans to have an active off-season so he can rebuild strength in his right knee. Matt Barnes is still a month away in the rehab on his surgically repaired right knee before he can run and jump. Pau Gasol plans to play for the Spanish national team in the European Championships this summer partly so he can improve his mental health after a disappointing playoff run. And forward Ron Artest has been working out for two hours a day pretty steadily this off-season so he's in better condition. The extra time off will surely help rest the Lakers' high basketball mileage that accumulated from three consecutive Finals appearances. But it's more important that the Lakers use that rest productively.

3. Better point-guard production -- The Lakers easily compensated for this issue in previous seasons because of Bryant's talent level, the team's size advantage and its defensive consistency. But with all three of those facets proving no longer totally reliable, the glaring weaknesses at this position show it's necessary for the Lakers to address them. With Brown planning to use very little of the triangle in his offense, it sheds even more urgency for the Lakers to correct them. As much as Derek Fisher has proved valuable in seasons past with his clutch playoff performances and locker-room clout, his role is going to change dramatically, and it's not going to be for the better. As much as Steve Blake's average of four points on 35.9% shooting doesn't really reflect the playmaking abilities and dependable shot he's shown in his career, he provided very few signs he was fully comfortable in being a true backup to Fisher. The Lakers have limited resources because they're coming off a season that featured a near $91-million payroll, but the glaring needs at point guard makes it more important for the Lakers to push for Deron Williams or Chris Paul during next year's free agency than Dwight Howard.

606217134. More consistent outside shooting -- The numbers are pretty glaring. The Lakers shot 35.2% from the three-point range in the regular season, 28.9% in the postseason  and 37.5% from shots from within 16-23 feet, according to Hoopdata.  This problem became cyclical. The Lakers refused to be more deliberate with their shot selection and opponents sagged off on them because they knew it was a worthy gamble. In turn, the poor outside shooting neutralized the Lakers' post presence with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, with teams mostly fixated on covering the paint to deny them open looks. The Lakers hadn't been an impressive outside-shooting team during their championship seasons because their offense consisted of better ball movement.

Brown envisions that he'll use Bynum and Gasol the same way the Spurs used David Robinson and Tim Duncan when Brown was an assistant coach from 2000-2003 with feeding them paint touches in the post instead of the block so that it's harder for defenses to push the front line out of the lane. But the success of that, as ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky recently noted, hinged on the fact that San Antonio had quality shooters, including Terry Porter (43.5%) and Mario Ellie (39.8%) in 2000, five Spurs attempting at least two or more treys a game posting at least 39.9% from downtown in 2001, Steve Smith (47.2%) in 2002 and Bruce Bowen (44%) in 2003. 

The Lakers have plenty to point the finger at in improving these numbers, including Bryant (29.3%), Ron Artest (32.1%) Shannon Brown (28%)and Blake (33%), but besides trying to acquire a quality shooter, the Lakers need to change their mindset. Besides improving on whatever mechanics they need to this summer, it'd help if the Lakers worked on establishing their mid-range shooting first. One NBA coach once told me that the best way to get out of a shooting slump involves taking a shot one step closer to the basket instead of catching and releasing. Then once those shots start falling, it's fine for players to gradually step back. But with a team that largely became dependent from the three-point line, I never saw any of the Lakers adopt that approach.

5. More consistent bench - The Lakers thought they addressed these needs by signing veterans last offseason in Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff as well as securing Brown. But the bench outside ofLamar Odom provided very little. Because of how consistently efficient Barnes played before suffering a lateral meniscus tear in Jan. 7, I'm convinced a summer of rehab and conditioning will be enough to return to form before the injury. But I'm not convinced Brown will be able to provide more than athleticism and fast break dunks despite spending last offseason working on his shot. I'm also not convinced Blake will ever fully feel comfortable showcasing his playmaking abilities without feeling like he's stepping on his toes. Add a likely retiring Ratliff, a slow Luke Walton, a practice player in Joe Smith and raw abilities in Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, and it's obvious the current unit isn't fully equipped to give the starters the necessary rest they deserve. 

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers Coach Mike Brown speaks with reporters after being introduced as the Lakers' new coach at a news conference in El Segundo. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 31, 2011.

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts after a foul was called on a teammate during Game 4 against the Mavericks on Sunday afternoon in Dallas. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011

Photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown brings the ball into the frontcourt against Nuggets guard Raymond Felton during a regular season game at Staples Center. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire / April 3, 2011 

 
Comments () | Archives (27)

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Carlisle Coaching..One of the greatest coaching performances of all time in the finals. The reason the Mavs will win these finals in game 6 will be because of the coaching staff that Mark Cuban has put together. An absolute masterful and courageous effort on the coaching staffs pa

Posted by: NBA4eternity | June 09, 2011 at 11:28 AM

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NBA4eternity

Very well spoken (typed?) It amazes the PSP how so many people were satisfied with the level of coaching Phil brought this past season (and even seasons before). When you watch a well coached team like the current Mavs play the difference is like night and day. We have been fortunate to have outstanding talent on our winning Lakers squads; honestly, do you think Philip would have been able to coach this Mavs team to the finals?

Thanks
PSP Intern

Go Dirk!
Go Mavericks!!!

[ Dirk, it's money ball time. ]

Hey just wanted to share this tweet from Matt Barnes: "Bout to take my post season MRI knees feeling better, I'm sure the MRI will say the same thing.."

Hey Mark,

Whats up, how you been, I missed the chat yesterday, hope we can have one a little earlier today lets say around 3ish? that would be nice!

YESSSSSSSSSSSSS, MATT is going to come back strong, this upcoming season whooo hoooooooo, ( well if we do have a season after all :( CBA )

Its funny because I was just posting something about Matt Banres ahaha

oh yeah and very nice thread MM, can you forward a copy of the to Mike Brown and the rest of the Lakers?? ahaha

They need to read this to understand what they need to work on!

MM.. Interesting choice of words.. How bout ranking the lakers blog' five biggest off-season needs

1. Less threads count
2 More quality threads from medina
3. Back to autoposting w/out typepad
4. Less chats
5. Less threads.. (Did I say that already?)

PSP

I agree with Tech N9ne we need to have the funeral.. I think we all need closure from the practice season theory!

Also if carlisle is having one of the greates playoff performances then so is the germanator! If dallas wins this may go down as one of the best playoff performances of all time carrying the team on his back... And he will easily surpass lecrybaby on the alltime list.. And prepare to write urself a ticket if u think otherwise!

Tech N9ne agrees with yellofever!!!

"PSP

I agree with Tech N9ne we need to have the funeral.. I think we all need closure from the practice season theory!


Posted by: Yellofever | June 09, 2011 at 12:35 PM "

Agreed.

PSP, I know the police HQ probably doesn't have a graphics design department but do you have any parolees that might be able to design a practice season theory hearse for us to all roll call on or whatever? That might get the ball rolling on things :)

"PSP

I agree with Tech N9ne we need to have the funeral.. I think we all need closure from the practice season theory!


Posted by: Yellofever | June 09, 2011 at 12:35 PM "

Agreed.

PSP, I know the police HQ probably doesn't have a graphics design department but do you have any parolees that might be able to design a practice season theory hearse for us to all roll call on or whatever? That might get the ball rolling on things :)

Posted by: BayToLA1 | June 09, 2011 at 12:46 PM

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Hello Mr BayToLA

Actually we have Trollman aka RSP on our payroll and the PSP believe he can come up with something worthy of the practice season theory. RSP are you with us?

The PSP is also glad that more people are talking in third person. The PSP believe that everyone should be like the princess and speak in the third person.

Yello

Are you saying that you believe Philip would have taken this Mavs team this far?

Thanks
PSP Officer

Oh and +1 on yellofever's top 5 in no particular order. Why do we have to have so many pointless threads in one day? Go check out the days we have 2 or so threads and see how much better the conversation flows. Oy Vey Mr. Mark, Oy Oy Oy.

Thanks
PSP Officer

Typepad is not bad though.

yellofever - Regarding your contention that the threads lack in quality, what don't you like about it

PSP

No way not in a million years!! Yellofever agrees carlisle has been nothing short of pure brilliance so far. He'll need to pull out a few more rabbits out of his hat to win next 2 of 3! Win and will be talked about forever... lose and no one will ever remember this run!

Go dallas!


Tech N9ne also agrees with BayToLA1!!!

Lets roll call everyone to the funeral...
Here goes the list....

PSP
Tech N9ne
Yellowfever
Mark Medina
LRob2
Hobbitmage
Art_Lakers
NBA4eternity
Snake92646
LakerTom
G.Money
Hermie44
LongTimeLakerFan
Humanomaly
latopia
Nuggets Country
Justanother Mambafan

this is a list of people who will participate in the funeral processions... if you feel like your name has been put on the list, and should be taken off please notify PSP immidiatly to have it corrected! Also to those people that should be on the list, please notify PSP as well to have that corrected! thanks!

thanks for the participants, we will have the dates, and time to follow!

MM.. Interesting choice of words.. How bout ranking the lakers blog' five biggest off-season needs

1. Less threads count
2 More quality threads from medina
3. Back to autoposting w/out typepad
4. Less chats
5. Less threads.. (Did I say that already?)

Posted by: Yellofever | June 09, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Revised version by Tech N9na...

1. Less thread count on (short threads)
2. +1 on more quality threads
3.Typad is okay, less handlejacking
4. More chats lol

It's true that when we have less threads the convos go smoothly instead of going back and forth between threads, but at the same time, since a lot of people respond on different times, reading the thread is not a bad way to pass while waiting for someone to respond to your post!


You guys are kinda funny with that whole practice season thing.
It's dead and gone.
Just have a bonfire and throw it in.
RIP

MM.. yellofever appreciates your efforts but would like to see more threads centered around basketball related topics and less tmz like topics like more recently:

Brown in george lopez
Ron artest reality show concept
Dfenders update??
Lamar khloe updates (thank god not reaching headline news anymore)

Take for example forum blue n gold where regretfully our professor gueco has taken his talents to.. They always stick to bball talk and recently had a thread on whether ron artest may be good defensive fit with coach brown. Just sharing cause thought it was a good article that can spur good long constructive debates. JMO!

Tech N9ne

You must be a billionaire or something? Or you inherited a fortune? But the PSP does NOT have time to umm pass like you do? Anyway if you are a billionaire and female will you marry the PSP ? Else, will you adopt the PSP? Btw some people on your funeral invitation are definitely not going to be attending, haha!

Art

Its off season for us Lakerholics, so we will beat every dead horse into the ground since there is not much else to talk/argue about.

Yello

Ok just checking; thought you of all people had finally let zen get into your head. I mean, did you see Carlisle go zone for a few minutes and then when Miami took a timeout and tried to adjust he immediately went back to man defense. Something you never see Philip do :-)

Thanks
PSP Intern

Ranking the Lakers' five biggest off-season needs

MM,

That's a good list, seems right, but you don't come across as very optimistic that the Lakers (as they are) can come back strong next year with a few tweaks.

There have been a lot of trade possibilities thrown out here, do you have any trade ideas of your own you think the Lakers should make (other than getting Dwight and CP)?

@MM – I know Brown said he envisions using Pau/Bynum on offense like SA did DRob and Duncan…but what about defense? That what made those SA teams so tough…the defense of Duncan and DRob. Neither Pau nor Drew has the athleticism of David Robinson. Will someone please ask him about this the next time he compares the Lakers duo to two HOFers.

@NBA4eternity – Glad you agree about Carlisle masterful coaching job, but he’s only halfway home….still a long way to go. The one thing I question is why no Brewer.

@Tech/PSP - You can take my name off the funeral procession list. I understood what MVP888 meant by the “practice season” theory and I don’t believe he meant it as many here believe. But the term took on a life of its own…partly because of MVP’s stubbornness and partly because others kept egging him own. Anyway no need to bury it in my mind because it was never alive. It never altered the way I viewed the regular season.

PSP,

Lol, funny.
Yep, you're right about beating them horses to a pulp and then some.
That's ok, no problem here.

====

Yello,

Agree with the threads topic comment you made.

No threads related to reality shows, rap songs, anything to do with the Kardasians and/or perfumes, etc.

I would add to the list two more items, but this is just me, maybe others like this stuff:

1) No more multiple threads on the same issue
2) No more threads on a subject that's already been written about by the other Laker writers unless it has new, updated information.

I do think that the thread quality has improved a bit since the season ended.

The only one I disagree with you about is the Brown on Lopez show.
I kinda like being able to see a vid clip if any of the Lakers are gunna be on a TV show like the recent clip of Brown on Lopez.

LRob2

Have you ever been in a fight in real life? You are just tooooooooo agreeable, lol!! You do know that to become hugely successful/famous, most times you have to step on someone's toes.

Btw as we speak there are two more (maybe more?) new threads up in the space of 20 minutes. :-(

Thanks
PSP Intern

@ PSP

Sorry I am neither a female nor a billionaire, I'm just a regular joe, and I wish I inherited some money but I did't, waiting for the Lotto... Also I maybe looking to adopt, I'll let you know...

well then you have any better ideas?
I kinda like Art's Idea, lets just bury it and call it a day

@Lrob2 - your name has been taken off!

"@Tech/PSP - You can take my name off the funeral procession list. I understood what MVP888 meant by the “practice season” theory and I don’t believe he meant it as many here believe. But the term took on a life of its own…partly because of MVP’s stubbornness and partly because others kept egging him own. Anyway no need to bury it in my mind because it was never alive. It never altered the way I viewed the regular season.


Posted by: LRob2 | June 09, 2011 at 01:38 PM "

I agreed with the theory in that the veteran teams have a tendency to step it up in the playoffs because:

1. They've been there before and have proven themselves in the situations
2. They're more likely to have been taking it easy during the regular season to avoid burning out some of their veteran players

#1 applied to the Lakers but I never saw any evidence that #2 did and that was one of the big objections I had throughout the season.

You obviously can't count out a team like the Celtics, Spurs, Lakers even if they're seemingly not measuring up to some of the other teams in the league during the regular season. If the theory was just thrown out there as a beacon for optimism, I would have had no problem with it. It's not a bad thing to hope for the best in a situation. The problem was the theory was taken much further than that and the people that did not buy into the theory were attacked without good reason.

If it was just a matter of us misunderstanding 888's preachings, I think he would have come back and clarified by now.

Rick Carlisle is a good coach, no doubt. But he has no championship.

But Phil Jackson has 11 NBA Championships, three three-peat runs, four runs with at least two championships in a row. His Lakers teams have won 5 championships - one three-peat run and one back-to-back championship.

If you want THE COACH to take a team over-the-top to win the championship, there is no coach better than Phil Jackson. He simply is the best coach EVER.

If Rick Carlisle coached the Lakers, would he have been able to take the Lakers to a championship? NO WAY. The Lakers would have imploded. The egos and pressures in Los Angeles would have been too hard to mesh together for Rick to win. Rick is NO Pat Riley. He would have been like the numerous coaches who Magic Johnson, as a player, got fired. Rick is a perfect coach for Dallas. And if they win the championship - and I'm rooting for them - then God Bless Rick.

If Rick Carlisle coached Michael Jordan and the Bulls, would the Bulls have won one NBA championship or even SIX??? NO WAY. They too would have imploded. Only a coach like Phil Jackson can mesh the ego of Michael Jordan and the rest of the Bulls into a championship team capable of winning multiple championships.

Rick is NO Phil Jackson - he would be the first to say that. He is, no doubt, a good coach, one of the best in the NBA.


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