Posts Tagged ‘Jodie Meeks’

Offensive Breakthrough For L.A.?


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It’s a new day in L.A.

The Los Angeles Lakers scored 122 points in their win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday, finally breaking through offensively under Mike D’Antoni. The key was reserves Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks, who combined for 54 points, shooting 12-for-18 from beyond the arc.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles has the story from Staples Center

It’s only been six games, so the jury is still out on Mike D’Antoni’s ultimate impact. But give the coach credit for this if nothing else: His system has transformed the Los Angeles Lakers’ bench from a bunch of sorry substitutes to the Jodie & Jamison Show.

Antawn Jamison scored a game-high 33 points and Jodie Meeks scored 21 on 7-for-8 shooting from 3-point land as the reserve duo nearly matched the 56 points scored by the Denver Nuggets’ starting five in the Lakers’ 122-103 win Friday.

The Lakers have been up-and-down as their 3-3 record suggests since D’Antoni took over, but it only has been up for Jamison (who’s putting up 17.8 points in the last four games) and Meeks (who is 15-for-29 on 3-pointers since D’Antoni first assumed his seat on the sidelines).

“Me and him, we’ve been kind of like roommates here lately,” Jamison said of his relationship with Meeks since joining the team as free agents this offseason. “We know we were brought here for a certain role, and we’ve been struggling together, as well.”

Jamison and Meeks are the two Lakers beyond Steve Nash who best fit in D’Antoni’s offense. Meeks is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, while Jamison is the stretch four needed to really spread the floor for the pick-and-roll game.

Of course, you can’t discuss a Lakers game without dissecting Pau Gasol‘s role in the offense. Gasol took just seven shots and scored just six points, but he did have eight assists to six different teammates.

More interesting is that the Lakers had their best offensive game of the season on a night in which Gasol and Dwight Howard played just 12 minutes together on Friday, easily the fewest they’ve played all season. Jamison and Howard played 20 minutes together, while Jamison and Gasol played 13 minutes together. So basically, Gasol played more as a center than as a power forward.

Now, the question is whether the offensive explosion was a result of the lack of Gasol-Howard playing time or vice versa. It may be the latter, because Jamison was productive from the start, scoring eight points in the first quarter and another six in the second. And since his stretch four was playing so well, it was easy for D’Antoni to go back to him for extended minutes in the second half.

So you could argue that Jamison, a 14-year veteran, is the biggest X-factor in the league this season. If he can consistently make shots, D’Antoni can continue to stagger Gasol’s and Howard’s minutes, and the Lakers can really spread the floor.

Thus far this season, Jamison-Gasol has been the best combination of the three (see table below), while Jamison-Howard has been the worst. But Jamison and Howard are actually a plus-40 in 68 minutes together over the last four games. As the team gets comfortable with their new coach, Jamison continues to emerge as a vital cog.

“I’ll ride him,” D’Antoni said of Jamison. “I’ll probably have to kill him. But he can do it. He said he can do it, so we’ll see.”

Yes, we will.

Lakers efficiency with Gasol, Howard and Jamison combinations

Combination GP MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Gasol + Howard 16 395 96.2 104.4 99.5 +4.9 +34
Jamison + Howard 16 180 92.3 97.6 98.5 -.9 -20
Jamison + Gasol 15 124 97.1 111.7 95.5 +16.2 +31

Through Friday, 11/30
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Lakers Still Have Issues to Address

Now to see if Mike D’Antoni can play backup point guard, because if not, his arrival only solves part of the problem.

In the greatest of truths, the one the Lakers may not confront in the transition of the quick-trigger coaching change and the D’Antoni hire, Mike Brown may not deserve the blame for the 1-4 start. If he does, interim Bernie Bickerstaff deserves Coach of the Year and a lifetime contract to stay on the job for going 2-0. Instant analysis is instant analysis – unless, as is apparent, management had doubts about Brown long before this week amid a new roster and injured stars.

The D’Antoni hiring is encouraging for the Lakers on several fronts. Phil Jackson would have been respected in that locker room like no one else, but D’Antoni is a pretty close second, probably ahead of Brian Shaw, the current Pacers assistant who was the consensus choice among players to succeed Jackson in summer 2011. D’Antoni can handle life under the heat lamp, will play the entertaining style owner Jerry Buss loves, and has a very good relationship with Kobe Bryant, from their Team USA days, and Steve Nash, from their Phoenix days playing Mach I. The rest of the roster will follow.

D’Antoni also brings the one thing Jackson can’t: potential closure on the sideline. If the new guy does well, he will be around a while. Jackson had already left the Lakers twice, once setting fire to the place on his way out the door by holding Bryant up for humiliation and the other time, about 18 months ago, by being relieved when the season ended in playoff embarrassment. Jackson almost certainly wouldn’t stick around for the next generation, after Bryant and Pau Gasol are gone and Dwight Howard is the unquestionable centerpiece. D’Antoni can walk across that bridge.

It’s just that the hire doesn’t come close to ensuring the Lakers are back on the path of clear Western Conference favorites. They’re still not as young and athletic as the Thunder, still not as cohesive and grounded as the Spurs, and still not as deep as the Clippers. Plus, there is no way to know when Nash will be back after missing five of the seven games with a fractured leg and how much time he will need to get into rhythm once he does return.

The bench is the major concern, but then again, it was from the beginning. Each of the four full-time starters – Bryant, Howard, Gasol, Metta World Peace – is averaging at least 34.7 minutes per. Taking Steve Blake, Nash’s replacement at point guard, out of consideration, three reserves were trusted enough to play at least one-fourth of the games: Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill and Darius Morris.

Morris got there only because he moved up the depth chart, from third-stringer, at the point thanks to the Nash injury. Jamison is at 34.8 percent from the field and averaging 3.7 rebounds in 16.1 minutes. (Hill in 16 minutes: 5.7 boards.) And Brown got so desperate for help behind Bryant at shooting guard that he turned to World Peace, the starting small forward and not exactly known for his dependable offense, or dependable anything, come to think of it.

Jodie Meeks is making 28.6 percent of his attempts overall and 21.4 percent from behind the arc, cutting his playing time down to 10.6 minutes. Maybe Brown didn’t give Meeks time to break out of the slump. Or maybe, just maybe, the guy signed to be the shooting specialist off the bench needs to produce to get the minutes when the coach is dangling and playing for wins now. If the chance comes now but the baskets don’t, at some point it won’t be Brown’s fault anymore.

The second unit was always a primary concern, and it will continue to be until proven otherwise. There is still time, though, for Nash to heal and Meeks and Jamison to improve. The season can be saved, which was always the case as Lakers fans acted as if the ground was opening beneath them. It is still early, at least for everyone except Brown.

Lakers Say No Rush On Nash, Team’s Depth Will Be Tested In His Absence

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A small fracture to his left leg will force us to admire more of Steve Nash‘s colorful wardrobe than is necessary. But with the Los Angeles Lakers announcing that there will be no rush on Nash’s return (which makes their timetable of him missing for a week seem a bit sketchy), we’ll spend the next few games familiarizing ourselves with Steve Blake and Darius Morris.

With those two backups playing the bulk of the minutes at point guard, the Lakers’ already questionable depth will be tested ever more. For a team that doesn’t need any more hurdles to clear to start the season, this might be the one that gives us the best gauge of their championship timber.

Surviving the preseason with both Dwight Howard (recovering from back surgery) and Kobe Bryant (nursing a sore foot) at less than full strength is one thing. But an extended period without Nash in the lineup at all … that’s the one injury hiccup the Lakers weren’t exactly prepared for.

Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times told us yesterday on The Beat on NBA TV that Nash could very well be out for a month. A MONTH!

“You obviously hope he’s back as soon as possible,” Lakers coach Mike Brown told reporters Sunday before the Lakers trounced the Detroit Pistons Sunday. “But the one thing you don’t want to do, you don’t want to compromise his long-term health for him coming back quicker than he should. So, (trainer) Gary Vitti and the staff are on top of it. We’ll just wait and play it out from there.”

We knew it would take them a while to get it together. But spending the next four weeks without Nash in the mix as they try and perfect their Princeton offense (and doing so seemingly against the wishes of anyone that knows anything about the Lakers’ personnel) is a challenge they didn’t need.


No Kobe In Season Opener?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With so much focus on Dwight Howard‘s back and whether or not he would be ready for the start of the Los Angeles Lakers’ regular season, few people worried about Kobe Bryant.

But with the opening night contest against the Dallas Mavericks just days away, it’s Bryant who could be in danger of missing the game with injury. Both of the Lakers’ stars sat out Wednesday night’s preseason loss to the Clippers and Bryant could, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown (via, be held out of the game against the Mavericks with a strained right foot:

“I don’t know if he’ll be ready,” Brown said after the Lakers 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. “So yeah, I guess there is question. I’m just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play because there’s nothing I can do about it until they release him anyway.”


Kobe’s Minutes To Be Monitored …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’re still trying to figure out exactly how he does it, but while other members of his generation are fighting Father Time all the way to the finish line, Kobe Bryant continues to act like he’s in his mid-20s as opposed to closer to his mid-30s.

The reports from the Lakers’ initial training camp workouts have been glowing where Bryant is concerned. He’s been dominating the action, asserting himself the way you’d expect a young Kobe Bryant would, not the elder statesman entering his 17th season in the league.

With Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the fold now alongside Bryant and Pau Gasol, there is a bit more firepower around to help ease some of Bryant’s offensive burden. The Lakers don’t want him to have to push quite as hard. But Bryant doesn’t seem to be interested in easing up at all.

He played 38.5 minutes per game last season and spent his summer as a starter on the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team that won gold at the Olympics in London.

Lakers coach Mike Brown from trying to limit his minutes, though, according to Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times:

“If I can, I’d definitely love to keep his minutes down and not have them up to 38,” Brown said. “But I’m sure he’ll tell you he can play 48, which is probably true if he needed to. But we feel like we have a deep team this year and hopefully at the end of the day it leads to reduced minutes for him.”


Slim Pickings Left In Free Agency

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Training camp is still about eight weeks away, but good luck trying to find any more free agents who can make a real impact on your team. A month after free agency opened, only slim pickings remain.

Want proof? The remaining free agent who played the most minutes last season is Alonzo Gee. Most rebounds? Shelden Williams. Yep, we’re down to the bottom of the barrel.

At this point, if teams are still looking to fill roster spots, they have certain needs. So we’ll list the best available guys by position. Here are three point guards, five wings, and three bigs who could be useful (or not) next season…

Point guards

1. Derek Fisher (OKC)
23.9 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 2.7 APG, 37.1% FG, 32.1% 3PT
The veteran will celebrate his 38th birthday next week, and it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about a possible destination for next season. After a rough regular season, he shot a solid 38 percent (18-for-48) from 3-point range in the playoffs.

2. Jannero Pargo (ATL)
13.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 1.9 APG, 41.5% FG, 38.4% 3PT
Pargo provided an offensive lift for the Hawks in a handful of games last season. (more…)

Draft Comparisons: Barnes, Lillard, Drummond and Waiters

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As Draft time rolls around and we learn about the next class of NBA rookies, there’s a desire to compare each to players we’re already familiar with.

No two players are exactly alike and some players are more unique than others. But you can find comparisons by watching video, crunching stats or matching measurements. For this exercise, we did the latter two.

Listed below are four of the top picks, along with the current NBA players they compare with most. For this exercise, we looked at 10 stats from each player’s last season in college, and eight measurements taken at the annual pre-draft combine.

Because we used college numbers and combine numbers, the only current players we could compare this year’s prospects to were the ones who played in college (so no LeBron James or Dwight Howard) and participated in the combine since 2000 (Rajon Rondo is one notable name missing in that respect).

The following comparisons aren’t gospel, of course, but they’re one way to get read for the draft on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). (more…)

Sixers Fading Down The Stretch

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Philadelphia 76ers are a weird team.

Their leading scorer comes off the bench and they have seven players averaging at least nine points per game. They have the lowest turnover ratio in NBA history and the second-lowest free throw rate of the last 20 years.

What’s craziest is that the Sixers have the league’s fifth-best point differential and only the 15th-best record, thanks to a 24-9 record in games decided by double-digits and a 5-16 record in games decided by single-digits. They win the blowouts and they lose the close games. So either their record is worse than it should be or their point differential is better than it should be.

The Sixers, of course, got off to a terrific start this season, winning 20 of their 29 games before Valentine’s Day. But since then, they’ve gone 9-16, struggling at first to hold onto the Atlantic Division lead and now, maybe to hold onto a playoff spot.

Former Sixers beat writer Kate Fagan writes that players are, at times, tuning out Doug Collins, who appeared to be the No. 1 candidate for the Coach of the Year award less than two months ago..

Since around early March, guys on the team have struggled with Doug Collins’ coaching style. Look, we all knew at the beginning of last year, when Collins took over this young team, that he had a history of turning around young squads. And we also knew that he had (sometimes as early as the second season) a history of over-coaching, at which point his players tend to become frustrated and tune him out. The Sixers have been struggling with this for at least a month, if not longer. This has led to heated interactions, sometimes even in the middle of games. On more than one occasion, players have let Collins know — during a game — that they’re sick of the relentless nitpicking. This incessant nagging (or even the perception of it) leads to fractured relationships. The Sixers have reached the point where, at least some of them, have addressed this issue with Collins. Has it reached the point of tuning him out? At times. Collins has made an effort to try to step back, but he’s only occasionally successful. It’s been day to day.

The numbers don’t point to effort being the problem. The Sixers still have the No. 1 defense in the league and the No. 2 defense since the All-Star break, though their D was pretty terrible in Wednesday’s inexplicable loss to the Raptors.

On the other end of the floor is where the Sixers’ issues really lie. They had the sixth-best offense in the league when they were 20-9 on Valentine’s day. Since then, only the Celtics and Bobcats have been worse offensively. (more…)

The Crossover: Deron Williams

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We haven’t spoken about him much this season, what with all of the struggles the Nets have endured, but we haven’t forgotten about you Deron Williams.

Even with all of the other names crowding the best point guard debate while you ponder your looming free agent future, we are here to recognize the fact that you remain one of the coldest crossover operators in the game today.

The work you did off the dribble in overtime against the 76ers last night … wicked! We apologize in advance to Jodie Meeks and Andre Iguodala for putting you on blast like this (we like to watch the whole thing, but you can skip to final 47 seconds of this recap video to the freak show):

We understand if you’re dizzy after watching that final 47 seconds.

If you’re not careful, you can get rocked to sleep just like the Sixers did!

Blogtable: Exceeding expectations

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Let’s go the other way: Which player has most wildly outpaced your preseason expectations of him?

David Aldridge: Cousin LaMarcus, of course! I knew he could score from the perimeter, but he’s become a terrific post-up player as well. And he’s miles better at the defensive end this year. Really improved his game and put that team on his back.

Steve Aschburner: I could say Grant Hill, based on my bad assumption that he invariably would tail off at age 38 – and certainly not become an All-Defensive Team candidate. I could say Amar’e Stoudemire, because I didn’t expect him to embrace the spotlight, pressure and leadership chores in New York so adeptly. But the only acceptable answer here is New Jersey’s Kris Humphries. In his seventh NBA season, at age 26, with his fourth team, Humphries has more than doubled his career scoring (4.7 ppg) and rebounding (3.5 rpg) numbers, up to 10.0 ppg and 10.3 rpg now. He has 28 double-doubles vs. a total of eight in his first six seasons. And in the grandest overachievement of all, he’s squiring around Kim Kardashian. Now that’s “wildly outpacing” expectations.

Fran Blinebury: After his first two seasons in the league, everybody figured that Kevin Love was going to be a solid player with a successful career.  But I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t expecting him to take a Bob Beamon-like leap into the Moses Malone stratosphere with 53 consecutive double-doubles and to surpass Dwight Howard as the NBA’s top rebounder. (more…)