Thursday, January 1, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers Analysis - 2008 Recap

Daniel Sagal has collaborated here in the past and recently sent me this excellent analysis that he posted on his own blog yesterday. It is a recap of the Lakers for the 2008 calendar year. Thanks Daniel!

Trevor Ariza - Trevor joined the Lakers midway through last season when they trade Maurice Evans and Brian Cook to Orlando for him. The Lakers already had small forwards that could shoot and pass in Radmanovic and Walton, but Ariza was a special king of player that could slash to the basket. In the 24 games that Ariza played for the Lakers last year, before his season ending injury, he averaged 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 18 minutes. He started three games last season and showed great strengths. After losing to Boston in the finals, the Lakers new that Ariza would be a big part of this years team. He definitely has. His minutes have gone up to 24 per game, coming off the bench, and he is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists with 9.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. I would say that Ariza has been what the Lakers asked for and more since they acquired him and that as time passes he will only continue to improve.

Kobe Bryant
- This is quite obvious. Kobe won his first MVP award last year as he led the Lakers to the NBA Finals. This year, he is on a mission, a mission back to the finals in which he hopes to win the championship this year. The team is currently 25-5 and Bryant has been the MVP no doubt. He is averaging 26.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. Kobe is playing less minutes for the Lakers this season though averaging 35.3 minuted per game. His lowest minutes since his 2nd year in the league. Kobe is also enjoying his highest field goal shooting % and his highest free throw shooting % of his career. His veteran leadership has truly become an asset to the team.

Andrew Bynum - After last year’s disappointing season ending knee injury, Bynum has returned to the Lakers lineup with strength and determination. In the same amount of minutes as last season, pre knee injury status, Bynum is averaging less points and rebounds. The presence of Pau Gasol in the paint may have a lot to do with this, but in the meantime, lets focus on his numbers alone. The fact that he is averaging 12 points does not bother me, I would just like to see him reach double digit rebounding numbers. Currently pulling down 8.4 board per game in 28.6 minutes, I truly believe that Bynum is capable of even more.

Jordan Farmar
- Jordan is currently down with a knee injury that will keep him out of action until approximately the all star break. In the 25 games that Jordan has played in this season though, his numbers have regressed from last year. His points are down to 7.9 from 9.1, his rebounds are the same at 2.3, and his assists average has gone down to 2.4 from 2.7. To give Jordan some credit, his minutes have decreased from 20.6 to 19.6. Farmar’s shooting however has been somewhat questionable recently as his fg % is 40.5%, three point fg % is 35% and his free throw % is 64.3%. Perhaps its time to work on that jump shot, but for now, lets get through a full recovery and get Jordan back on the court for a successful 2009 year.

Derek Fisher - Derek Fisher has started 29 out of the Lakers 30 games this season and is playing 29.4 minutes per game which is two minute more than he was averaging last season. A lot of that average was inflated in the last few games after Farmar was sidelined and before Jackson played Sun Yue. Fish is shooting a career high 89.2% from the free throw line and career high 43.9% from beyond the three point arc. He is also averaging half an assist more than last season with 3.4 per game. His veteran leadership is the true asset that he brings to the team but his streaky hot shooting, such as the 9-12 against the Golden State Warriors this last weekend is a big boost for the team. (Apryl's note - Derek Fisher is THE MAN! I'll never get over the 0.4 shot!)

Pau Gasol - Gasol has been nothing but a pleasure to have in a Lakers uniform. He has been great throughout his time in Los Angeles. Last season he finished off big by helping Kobe lead the Lakers to the finals. It was his first appearance this deep in the playoffs and he definitely delivered. He is averaging a career low in points this season with 17.4 per game, but again, it’s understandable considering he’s sharing the paint for the first time in his career with another seven footer. I do like that Gasol is averagin 8.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists though. He’s sharing the ball well, especially with Bynum.

DJ Mbenga - I truly wish there was more to say about Mbenga but with a team as deep as the Lakers currently have, Mbenga has only been on the court for a total of 3 minutes. He did come up big in the three minutes that he played however getting 2 blocks. I’d like to see more of Mbenga but if the Lakers don’t start blowing teams out, DJ is going to continue spending time on the bench.

Chris Mihm - Mihm is in a similar boat to Mbenga. With the rotation of bigs starting with Gasol, Bynum, Odom, and Powell, it’s difficult to fit in two more seven footers in Mbenga and Mihm. Chris is averaging real minutes with 5.3 in the 9 games he played. He has 2.6 points per game and there really isn’t much more that we can ask of him. Hopefully as the season progresses he will have more opportunities, but with this current trade speculation of him being shipped out to Milwuakee for Tyronne Lue, we don’t know what to expect.

Lamar Odom - Since the day that Lamar has come into town there have been high expectations. After playing solid throughout the year last season at the four spot while Bynum was out with an injury, Lamar performed quite nicely. Now that Bynum is back, Lamar has been asked to come off the bench and play behind Bynum and Pau Gasol. Lamar is averaging 26.5 minutes per game, more than 10 minutes less than last season. His points per game, rebound, and assists per game have gone down. Odom is averaging 8.5 points, down from 14.2, 6.2 rebounds, down from 10.7, and 2.3 assists, down from 3.5. The numbers that truly matter to me though are his shooting percentages. Lamar is shooting his lowest percentage since joining the Lakers at 46.2% and his free throw percentage is a horrid 60%, lowest of his career. Perhaps he’s still in the adjustment phase of coming off the bench for the first time in his career. I do smell potential 6th man of the year award though.

Josh Powell - Powell has played in 14 games and is averaging 6.1 minutes. His shooting has been really good as he’s averaging a career high 51.7% from the field but his free throw shooting has been poor as he is barely over 50%. He is averaging only 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds which could really use some more work. It would be nice to see him1 progress as a player and contribute a bit more the way that Ronny did when he was in LA.

Vladimir Radmanovic
-Radmanovic was the starter throughout most of last season while he shot 41% from three point range. This season, Vlad started the first 20 games before losing the starting job to Luke Walton. Actually, I wouldn’t consider it losing his job because his shooting has improved significantly to 45.6% from 3 point range and his defense has become better as well. He is also less of a “space cadet” when he’s on the court. Radman is also averaging about 5 minutes less per game than he was last season and actually did not play due to coach’s decision twice. It’s been nice seeing Radmanovic finally find his rhythm as a shooter wearing a Lakers jersey and hopefully he continues to get a better understanding of the team’s functions.

Sasha Vujacic - Sasha has quickly become one of my more favorite players on this team. One thing that fans always ask to see of athletes is passion and hard work. For years now we have heard about the many hours Vujacic has put into practicing his shot, lifting weights, and improving in all aspects of the game. Kobe has called him an even bigger gym rat than himself. Last season, Vujacic played 72 games and averaged 17.8 minutes, this season he has appeared in all 30 games thus far and is averaging 15.2 minutes per game. The injury to Jordan Farmar will surely give him some more playing time and this will be his opportunity to show off his strengths in handling the ball. Sasha is averaging 5.6 points and 1.5 assists per game on 39.7% shooting and 39.5% 3 point shooting. Sasha has been very unhappy with his performance so far this year and continues to put in the time to improve his game.

Luke Walton - After seeing practically no playing time in the first 20 games due to Radmanovic starting, Walton has taken over the starting spot and is now playing many more minutes. Due to the inactivity of the first 20 games, his minutes per game is only at 12.1 compared to his 23.4 last season. I’d like to start off by pointing out that Luke Walton has the best free throw shooting percentage on the team at a staggering 100% with all 8 attempts made! His other numbers however are not as nice. He is averaging 3.5 points, 1.7 rebound, and 1.8 assists per game. Luke’s field goal percentage is 38.6% and after leading the league for the first half of the season two years ago in three point shooting percentage, he is now down to 26.3% this season. The best number on his stat sheet is the 0.8 turnovers per game. It’s nice to see that he’s protecting the ball.

Sun Yue
- Sun has shown some good signs in his time on the court. He is averaging 3 points per game shooting 60% from the field. Of course, thats quite skewed as he’s averaging 6 minutes in the two games that he’s played. During this time that Jordan Farmar is out, Sun Yue is sure to play a bunch more minutes and perhaps even impress the coaching staff with smart in game decisions.

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