Posts Tagged ‘Steve Nash’

Lakers Upgrades to Look For

October 6, 2014

Contrary to what the pundits have said, the Lakers have serious upgrades from last year which promises a significant turnaround from last year– a playoffs type of turnaround. And here’s why:

Byron Scott. The coaching change is already paying dividends simply in the changed culture of the team. D’antoni was very much an more passive coach, who never seemed really sure of himself. Pau Gasol many times complained of discipline lacking. This team needed something very different for a place like L.A. and a team like the Lakers. The conditioning and defense-first approach will affect the personnel that takes the court first and foremost. Whether or not they are a team of defensive specialists, they will put forth efforts, implement defensive schemes and play defense by committee. Just watching practices and interviews point a new attitude and a changing culture. Look for that to translate onto the court.

Byron Scott as an analyst noticed time and time again how players like Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill were not used where they could be successful. Wes guarded power forwards and stayed around three point line. Hill saw fluctuation in playing time in favor of a stretch four. Bigs just were not used correctly. D’antoni force-fed run and gun offense on a team that needed to feed the ball down low to control tempo and keep teams from easy transition buckets. Expect the change in offense to put players in a position to be successful, decrease transition and increase paint points. Not as exciting as D’antoni but wins are much more fun.

The Return of Kobe and Nash. Funny how those words mean nothing to the pundits. There will be a huge increase in offensive production as well as more control of tempo. These guys are a step slower but there’s no doubt that this is a major upgrade.

Point Guard Position. The point guard position got much younger and faster. Jeremy Lin is not far removed from Linsanity. He brings an ability to create his own shot, get to the basket quickly and create shots for others. Nash will start but Lin will see plenty of minutes. The Lakers also managed to nab Ronnie Price and Jordan Clarkson who will both add more depth at that position and back up Nash. Needless to say, there is less likely of a chance for blow-bys on the perimeter with these younger, quicker point guard additions.

With the loss of Gasol, Lakers still managed to shore up the power forward/center position with future star Julius Randle, all-star forward Carlos Boozer and newly added Ed Davis. Scoring may have dipped but rebounding and paint protection took a major upgrade. Rob Sacre also can provide an effective 7-footer in spurts.

Look for a more controlled, organized, defensive-minded team that can rebound effectively. Look for a priceless mentorship from Nash, Kobe and Boozer that will show up on the court. Goran Dragic was a product of being under the tutelage of Steve Nash. Look for less transition by the other teams and increased post play.

Finally, look for a stunned panel of naysayers who placed the Lakers in the nba cellar. The Lakers Optimist said so.

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Lakers Training Camp Notes

October 4, 2014

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Kobe and Nash look good in practice

After 4 days of training camp we are learning more about the 2014-2015 Lakers. Unfortunately, the Lakers will most likely start the season without Swaggy P (torn thumb ligament) and Ryan Kelly (stained hamstring). Xavier Henry is still dealing with back spasms.

However, Byron Scott is focused on conditioning, defense and mastery of the Princeton offense. Players are responding and an identity is forming slowly but surely. This is definitely a new day in Lakertown. Kobe said he’s never run that much in a practice his whole career. Byron insists that they will not lose by running out of gas in the 4th quarter.

Kobe and Nash are both looking like themselves according to reporters, coaches and players. The younger players seem very open to learning from veterans like Bryant, Nash and Boozer.

Players that have become favorites thus far include, Jordan Clarkson and Ronnie Price offensively and defensively.

It looks like the starting five will be Nash, Bryant, Johnson, Boozer and Hill. The bench is very competitive and up for grabs especially with Young out. Expect Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price and Wes Johnson to see more minutes in Young’s absence as they try to manage Kobe’s minutes.

Scott’s first dilemma is settling on a rotation that will not include Swaggy P before their first pre-season game against the Denver Nuggets.

I believe a lot of questions will be answered in these 8 games. What I look for is the defensive rotations and rebounding ability. Last year’s ominous sign in pre-season was their inability to rebound. Also, we get a good look at Kobe and Nash in action and see the strengths and weaknesses of the starting lineup.

Lakers play Denver on Monday at 7pm Pacific on Timewarner Cable Sportsnet.

Lakers Will Take a Page from Poppovich’s Book This Season

September 14, 2014

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Lakers coach Byron Scott is getting close to penciling in his starting 5. He has hinted that Kobe and Nash would be starting backcourt, Boozer and Hill in the frontcourt and maybe Wesley Johnson at small forward.

Then we heard that Nash may not be starting. Then we heard, and this makes the most sense, that the starters would be confirmed after training camp.

Everybody expressed their discontent with Byron’s decision to choose veterans over youth to start games. They complain that players won’t be able to develop coming off the bench, namely Randle, Lin and Clarkson.

On a smaller level, we have the potential for a Spurs type of rotation, where the starters, namely the vets will be relied upon to start the game and to finish games and the bench will indeed receive the bulk of the minutes to keep Kobe, Nash and even Boozer fresh throughout the season. This is perhaps why they loaded up on power forwards, guards and point guards.

So it really doesn’t matter if the veterans start. Jeremy Lin and Julius Randle will get plenty of minutes to develop. More importantly, the Lakers bench will get the opportunity to become that benchmob that we saw last year before they were decimated with injuries.

I expect to see Nash play only 25 minutes maximum, giving Lin the bulk of minutes. Clarkson should be seen in spurts. An increase in Clarkson minutes should only come if he earns it, not because of last resort. Kobe will also see 30-35 minutes tops in favor of Nick Young taking the bulk of those minutes. Lastly, Randle will also be seeing valuable minutes backing up Boozer.

Lakers possess a young athletic group that will be called on to support the veterans throughout much of the season. Whether or not they can do it is going to be huge.

Do we have the talent to accomplish this? The jury is out on that. But I’m The Lakers Optimist so I expect greatness. Stay tuned. Pre-season begins October 6th against Denver Nuggets.

Let’s see who starts.

Question Marks For Lakers This Season – My Answer is Yes!

August 23, 2014

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Lakers will shock people this year

The Lakers are expected by everybody to stink again! This is a view held by both Lakers fans and Lakers NOTfans. The question is why. If I may be so cryptic, question is the answer.

QUESTIONS. There are questions about almost every aspect of the Lakers team, and because there are no answers until about 10 games into the season perhaps (maybe even all-star break) many are either being pessimistic in true Lakerhaters form or cautiously pessimistic to protect themselves from disappointment.

But forget all that! I’m the Lakers Optimist! So I’m going to answer your questions the only way I know how.

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Kobe will be Vino this year

1. Kobe: Will he be Kobe? Yes. Kobe will be extremely effective, adjusting his game to be a very dominant post player. Look, Kobe hasn’t played but 6 games last year. The last thing anybody wants is a rested and justifiably vengeful Black Mamba. He will motivate his team, shoot when he needs to, command double teams and effectively pass out of them, creating open looks and highlight reels for the other rim-attacking teammates.

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Nash will finish his career strong

2. Nash: Will Nash be useful? Yes. Nash will finish his illustrious career strong mostly in a catch and shoot role. The nerve irritation is an afterthought and he is ready to contribute to this team in 25 minute bursts whether starting or coming off the bench. I expect Lin to be the main man, but in Byron’s offense, both guards are ball handlers. Needless to say, Nash will be Vino Blanco (did i say that right?)

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Byron Scott poised to lead Lakers

3. Byron: Can he be the guy? Yes. The two important factors for a successful coach is making players buy in and making your stars buy in. A great resume and experience are what contribute to that. Byron Scott is a Laker great so he’s invested. He has three championships so he knows how to get em. He has won coach of the year, working with Chris Paul. He took Jason Kidd and the Nets to two straight Eastern Conference titles. Lastly, he played with and mentored Kobe is his rookie year. I fully expect players to listen to and respect B. Scott from Kobe on down. I expect Byron to lead players like Wesley Johnson and Jeremy Lin to extremely successful seasons. Bear in mind that he saw this team all last year as an analyst for TWCSportsnet. Byron Scott is not only the guy for now. He’s the guy for later and the guy to bring Lakers back to where they belong. So I’m saying he’ll pick up where Phil left off.

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Rookie of the year?

4. Julius: Is he the future? Yes! Julius Randle is going to ease into valuable minutes with this team, creating a tenacious scorer and rebounder. I expect him to make a strong case for rookie of the year. According to Byron, you might see him play alongside Boozer for a formidable frontcourt. Boozer, Hill, Randle? Uhoh!

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Chicago's loss is L.A.'s gain

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LinSanity returns to Cali

5. Boozer/Lin: Will they shine in L.A.? Yes! I find it downright disrespectful that the media didn’t see what valuable pickups Mitch made, simply because they weren’t LeBron or Carmelo (By the way guys it’s getting old. Leggo). Boozer’s numbers dipped because he saw a heavy decrease in minutes in favor of Taj Gibson. The same happened with Lin in favor of Patrick Beverly. These guys are bonafide stars when given the responsibility. Look for both to play with a chip on their shoulder. Boozer is still a super solid low post threat with a sound mid range game, plus a beast on the glass. I remember what he’s done to my Lakers in the past. Lin is a true point guard who gets to basket with ease, has a solid jumper and can create great looks for oh… I don’t know…Kobe? These were no chop liver pickups and the league will learn soon.

6. Defense: Will they play better defense? Yes! First and foremost there’s nowhere else to go but up from D’antoni. (Don’t say a word about Cleveland because their roster was not good post-LeBron when Byron took over.) Byron’s first order of business will be defensive sets! That is music to my ears. This team will have to buy into his philosophy and they will, to stay on the floor. They have pitbulls on the glass in Boozer, Randle, Hill and even Wesley Johnson so they’ll finish the job of stopping the opponent and securing the rebound. I expect solid defense and rebounding to be their identity.

This list doesn’t include the fact that Nick Young will continue to be a great scoring threat with Xavier Henry. This doesn’t include the expectation that Ryan Kelly will crush the softmore slump. This doesn’t include my expectation for Jordan Hill to have a monster year as starting center.

Any team playing the Lakers will learn that this team is pesky on defense. They will be attacking the basket and killing the post. They will be in the top 5 in rebounds. They will play smash-mouth 80s style basketball with a 2014 flair (you like that, huh?).

With these questions answered, they will make the playoffs and from there, it’s 16 games to glory and who knows?

So don’t listen to Charles Barkley, please! Listen to The Lakers Optimist.

Go Lakers!