Dallas Mavericks

2012-13 NBA Western Conference Preview: The Rich Get Richer

We’re baaaaack.

And thankfully for NBA fans everywhere, so is the NBA. After sitting through a forgettable season of baseball, a round of political debates that pandered to the lowest common denominator of the US, the final implosion of Lance Armstrong’s reputation and the start of a football season with no clearly great teams (though who doesn’t like to watch RGIII), the NBA ushers in the new era of the “super team” where the 1% continued to amass wealth over the offseason. With David Stern retiring (Laker fans rejoice!), just don’t expect see any Occupy Charlotte movements anytime soon.

Before we begin this year at Chasing 23 with our Western Conference Preview, let’s spend a minute and review the results of our 2011-2012 preview (since what good is a preview is we can’t criticize it later?). Here’s what we had last year:

Seed 2011-12 Projected Standings 2011-12 Actual Standings
1 OKC Thunder San Antonio Spurs
2 Dallas Mavericks OKC Thunder
3 Los Angeles Lakers Los Angeles Lakers
4 Los Angeles Clippers Memphis Grizzlies
5 Memphis Grizzlies Los Angeles Clippers
6 San Antonio Spurs Denver Nuggets
7 Portland Trailblazers Dallas Mavericks
8 Denver Nuggets Utah Jazz

The middle of the pack was fairly predictable, with the Lakers, Clippers, and Grizzlies all settling into their positions as predicted. The Spurs and Mavericks provided the biggest surprises of the year. The Spurs found the fountain of youth once again and cemented Greg Popovich’s status as one of the greatest of all-time. The Mavericks had one of the worse follow-on years of an NBA champion in recent memory.

We don’t expect significant movement this year at the top. The Thunder, Lakers, Clippers, and Spurs all will benefit from either more experience, more talent, or both. Outside of those teams, it remains to be seen if the Nuggest acquisition of Iguodala can help them to join the elite and whether the Grizzlies have peaked yet.

8. Utah Jazz

Take your pick here of a collection of bottom feeders that include Sacramento, Portland, Houston and others who will be competing for the final spot over the last few weeks of the 2012-13 season. Utah squeezes back into the final spot this year for their solid front court anchored by Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Marvin Williams paired with their newly acquired (and underrated) sparkplug point guard, Mo Williams. A team to watch here if the Jazz falter are the Kings, who have the mercurial, yet talented trio of Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton.

7. Dallas Mavericks

That the Mavericks get the 7 seed in this year’s preview is more a sign of the respect we have for Dirk Nowitzki versus any endorsement of Dallas’ talent (though Dirk will miss roughly the first 1/5th of the season). The Chris Kaman acquisition should help and give Nowitzki the first legitimate offensive post presence he’s had in his career and Elton Brand/OJ Mayo should provide some spark off the bench. As followers of UCLA basketball will most likely agree with however, new acquisition and starting point guard Darren Collison will likely be exposed as the limited passer and decision-maker that he is.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

It’s difficult to tell if the Memphis Grizzlies have peaked, but the feeling here is that just might be the case. Randolph, Gay, and Gasol are one of the best front courts in the NBA – however it is difficult to see any of them getting much better at this point in their careers. OJ Mayo and his ability to create off the dribble is gone, leaving little offensive punch in the backcourt. Additionally, a disappointing playoff performance last with home court against the Clippers means that the Grizzlies  failed to capitalize on the opportunity to gain valuable playoff experience.

5. Denver Nuggets

Make no mistake, this is a good, solid Nuggets team and if it weren’t for some serious talent in the Western Conference, they would be higher on this list. This is also the perennial team  that “no contender wants to meet in the playoffs” (as the Lakers nearly found out last year). The acquisition of Andre Iguodala along with the continued growth of Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari and one of the deepest benches in the NBA make this team a threat, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they earn homecourt advantage for the 1st round of the playoffs.

4. San Antonio Spurs

We really wanted to pick the Spurs back in the sixth seed this year, but have to respect their incredible accomplishment last year as well as Pop’s mastery of his profession, so despite the continual decline of Tim Duncan, San Antonio should be able to squeeze out another respectable season.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

Clippers at number 3? Really? If last year was the beginning of the Lob City bandwagon, this year we should see the train leave the station. Chris Paul is still (with apologies to Derrick Rose fans), the best point guard in the NBA and Blake Griffin the greatest emerging power forward talent – assuming the King decides not to make the transition over to 4 this year. Add to that some valuable playoff experience and a deep roster that includes the additions of experienced veterans Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, and Willie Green, and the Clips look ready to finally emerge out of their dark history.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

So clearly, we don’t put much stock in the preseason, otherwise this team would be somewhere below Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors right now. While the Lakers have the talent to finish with the no. 1 seed, as we’ve seen in the preseason, the early part of the 2012-13 season will be an exercise in acclimating to each other. The bench is a clear weakness, with Antawn Jamison looking his age and Jodie Meeks still trying to fit in. Mike Brown is still a liability as well, Princeton offense not withstanding. Additionally, it will be imperative for Bryant to cede ball control to Nash for the first 46 minutes of each game for the Lakers to be truly successful – which seems like a stretch at this point. At the same time, with this roster, anything less than a title this year for the Lakers should be construed as a disappointment.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden just found out what old school really is about. Kudos to Sam Presti for standing his ground, not giving Harden an undeserved max contract, and still getting a very good young player (Jeremy Lamb), a solid veteran (Kevin Martin), and lottery tickets for the future (2 1st rounders) out of it. Absolutely brilliant. The core of Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka are all still intact, more experienced, and hungrier than ever after getting punished by the Heat – so expect this team to be highly motivated and set the pace in the Western Conference from the get go. The key to the title this year for the Thunder still lies with Westbrook, who must continue to mature and develop into the perfect complement for Durant’s already MVP-caliber game.


155 Responses to “2012-13 NBA Western Conference Preview: The Rich Get Richer”

  1. Welcome back. Getting the mistakes out of the way, its Derrick Rose not Derrick Rock (unless you intended that in which case it was funny).

    Ok my thoughts.

    I am counting the Spurs out this year, by which I mean they have no chance of winning the conference. Not that they won’t do better in the regular season then anyone thinks, because they will. But in 7 game series they just don’t have it with their star power anymore.

    I think OKC will win the West because…
    1. They are set up to exploit were the Lakers are weak (PG and SF)
    2. The Lakers have one of the worst benches on paper in the entire league.
    3. The Lakers have Mike Brown as their head coach.
    4. Its going to take time for the team to come together, and I am not convinced that Kobe will give up control of the ball to Steve Nash.
    5. Lets be real Nash is real and hes not the MVP Nash that the Lakers think they are getting.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | October 28, 2012, 7:53 pm
    • good catch Nightblade — even Chasing23 writers need to get into midseason form. Change has been noted.

      On the Spurs, I agree — their regular season successes are now just a result of Pop’s brilliance combined with veteran savvy.

      I will disagree on OKC. I believe the Lakers will win the West (but not sure if they have enough for the title). Howard will diminish the ability of Westbrook to penetrate. Additionally, I believe the loss of Harden severely hurts their second unit. (even though I still don’t think he should get a max contract)

      That being said, I do agree the Lakers do look better on paper than people think. Nash will be defensive liability and I think will have much more trouble adjusting than Dwight Howard. Artest still looks lost half the time, and Gasol appears to get worse each year. Will be fun to watch in any event. .

      Posted by Brown Mamba | October 28, 2012, 9:40 pm
  2. Nash is real old…that is what it should say.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | October 28, 2012, 7:53 pm
  3. Good read …

    I agree with most of your projections, but I have the Lakers finishing with the #1 seed in the west and OKC @ #2 …

    I also see Sacramento as sleepers this year …

    Good work …

    Posted by Ken | October 29, 2012, 9:04 am
    • Thanks Ken — think it will be a bit of a struggle for the Lakers early on which is why I put them at #2. Numerous factors working against them: unproven Bench, aging players whose minutes will be limited, a newly installed offense, and perhaps worst of all – boredom, i.e., will this team really care to show up prior to the postseasoon?

      Posted by Brown Mamba | October 29, 2012, 11:00 pm
      • Good points all …

        I only wonder whether the urgency to secure HCA will be the driving force for the new talent (Dwight, Steve, Antawn, Meeks), who are in this position of being title favorites or co-title favorites for the first time in their respective careers, to push through in the R/S … Kobe, Pau and MWP may ease up in the R/S to focus on the playoffs, but I’m guessing the new guys may have to battle the urge to win every game within reach …

        Which is how I ended up with the Lakers @ #1 … but I totally understand the argument for them @ #2, too …

        Anyway, thanks again …

        Posted by Ken | October 30, 2012, 10:58 am
  4. Why do people think Mike Brown’s a bad coach? He’s 3rd among active coaches in NBA win percentage and top 10 all time. Since his first NBA job in 2000, he’s been an assistant or head coach on 4 different teams, been to the NBA finals twice, won once, and has never been on a team with a losing record.

    Furthermore, as a defensive specialist, his record is pristine. His teams have been in the top half of the league every year, and often in the top 3-5. Offensively he’s clearly lacking in imagination, but he’s certainly taking steps to rectify it this year.

    He may not measure up to Phil Jackson, and he’s clearly not on Popovich’s level either, but in terms of resume, Brown measures up to every other head coach in the league right now. It’s awfully hard for me to see him as anything but an asset on a strong team.

    Posted by lochpster | October 30, 2012, 11:17 am
    • I 100% agree with your post …

      I believe that Brown is attacked so regularly by Kobe fandom (as disninguished from Lakers fans) because he’s just another target for these apologists who defiantly refuse to apportion any blame to Kobe when things go off the tracks, as they did most recently in the past two seasons …

      Some of his share is apportioned to Pau, some is apportioned to the bench, some is apportioned to the point guard or the center, some is apportioned to the officials, but the bulk of it is heaped on Brown as the new guy …

      Posted by Ken | October 30, 2012, 11:42 am
      • To be clear, I don’t find this article blaming Brown unfairly; I read the characterization here as a liability to be more a commentary on the difficulty Brown contends with getting buy-in from a team with Phil Jackson in the rear view mirror, among other issues with deploying a clear offensive strategy, demands of Kobe notwithstanding, etc. …

        Posted by Ken | October 30, 2012, 11:46 am
      • “I believe that Brown is attacked so regularly by Kobe fandom (as disninguished from Lakers fans) because he’s just another target for these apologists who defiantly refuse to apportion any blame to Kobe when things go off the tracks, as they did most recently in the past two seasons …”

        Brown is a great litmus test, because you can substitute Lebron’s name in here and rewind back to 2010 (and also add in the blame on the Cav’s teammates). This is despite the Cavs posting the best record in the league.

        Being a fan of basketball myself, I actually think Brown is a serviceable coach. His mistake last year was giving a larger role to Bynum, which put Gasol out of his most productive spots, without an overall gain to the team success.

        Posted by Gil Meriken | October 30, 2012, 2:01 pm
    • I agree that Brown is unfairly critiqued, and even after taking a year off in 2011, he came back and was voted the 4th best coach in the nba by his peers. He clearly is respected amongst his peers, and his teams have been towards the top in the nba in offense and defense his entire career. But, Brown’s criticism certainly started well before joining the lakers, much like spoelstra, which I’m not sure if he’s a good coach or not, but these coaches who are with champion caliber teams will almost always get unfairly knocked until they win the big one. The media blamed for Brown over and over the cavs’ failures when he was in cleveland.

      Posted by boyer | October 30, 2012, 12:22 pm
      • Fortunately, the roster assembled by Mitch Kupchak should obviate too much wasted time arguing Brown’s efficacy in any event … a decent high school coach should be able to roll the ball out for 60 wins and a Finals appearance with a team boasting four HOF talents (Kobe, Dwight, Nash, Pau) and two additional all-star veterans (MWP, Jamison) …

        If this Lakers team struggles, look not @ Mike Brown and the coaching … easiest bet of the year: take the under on number of FG made by Mike Brown this year …

        Posted by Ken | October 30, 2012, 3:16 pm
        • As talented as this team is, they face significant hurdles. And these issues go beyond the fact that Nash, Kobe, Howard, MWP and Gasol might just not click as teammates.

          For one, they’d almost surely be the oldest NBA champ in NBA history-the only team with an average age over 31 was the 1998 Bulls, who averaged 31.7 years old and had been playing together for years. The Lakers’ starting lineup averages an age of 32.4 at the start of the season, and top reserves Jamison and Blake are 36 and 32 respectively. In fact, beyond Howard, the only players under 30 who are likely to see much floor time are bit players Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks. Do not underestimate the importance of this.

          With age comes injury risk, and this team has it. The Phoenix training staff has held Nash’s back together MacGyver style for years, but his spondylolisthesis is a major liability. And who knows how Howard’s surgically repaired back will hold up. Kobe’s always on the injury report, too, for his many various wounds. I suspect we’re going to see a lot of missed games from the Lake show this season.

          There’s really no historical comparison for a team of players this old and injury prone being assembled and winning a title. Every other team with an average age over 30 had had its core together for at least a year before winning a title. If the Lakers do it, it will be no small feat, even with 4 likely Hall of Famers.

          Posted by lochpster | October 30, 2012, 10:22 pm
  5. The suggestion that Kobe receives a fair, appropriate share of the blame when things go wrong from those who consider themselves fans of his, consistent with the share LeBron receives from his fans in similar circumstances, is just another dispatch from the bubble.

    When shit goes wrong for LeBron’s team, LeBron fans blame everyone including LeBron.

    If I had a nickel for every LeBron fan that accused him of not doing enough vs. San Antonio in 2007 (it’s not enough that he was the 21 year old star on a roster full of nobodies playing the 3x champion Spurs – not enough), vs. Orlando in 2009 (series average of 38 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists – not enough) or quitting vs. Boston in 2012 (27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists in the last game of the series – quitter), I would be filthy rich.

    When shit goes wrong for Kobe’s team, Kobe fans blame everyone but Kobe.

    Magic Johnson never had a shred of the teflon Kobe enjoys today.

    That is my experience as a 30 year Laker fan.

    Posted by Skyhook | October 30, 2012, 2:59 pm
    • Agreed on most of this, though I believe the Association’s marketing machinery shares quite a bit of blame for the nonsense with Kobe and his true believers today …

      For some chuckles, here’s an amusing take on the Lakers and these insufferable KB Truthers …


      Posted by Ken | October 30, 2012, 3:43 pm
    • I re-read your post …

      1. I think you meant “vs. Boston in 2010”, not “2012” …

      2. How about “the Decision” and the 2011 Finals debacle? Those two items should surely be front and center as evidence that LBJ fans hold him accountable when he doesn’t deliver to their liking …

      Just some thoughts …

      Posted by Ken | October 30, 2012, 3:53 pm
    • I was looking back at that 2007 Cleveland – Spurs finals a few days ago and had some observations that are often overlooked in the discussion …

      1. The Spurs swept the Cavs in four games, as we all know … but the average margin of loss was merely 6 points per game (no blowouts, one 11 point loss the low water mark and the final two games lost by a grand total of four points) …

      2. 22 year old LeBron (he turned 22 in the 2006/2007 season) shot horribly in the finals (though he was guarded by noted defender Bruce Bowen), but he did average over 9 points per fourth quarter over the series on 45% FG %age … the Spurs were probably playing prevent by that point, and LeBron had far too many turnovers, though …

      3. The Cavs outscored the Spurs in every one of the fourth quarters …

      4. Coming within 25 points of a ring with Sasha Pavlovic, the oft-injured Larry Hughes and a rookie duo of Boobie Gibson and Shannon Brown at the shooting guard position is pretty incredible …

      The seasoned Spurs had a dream matchup: LeBron on the wing to worry about (double and triple team) and that’s about it … there was no other wing presence to really worry about (Donyell?), while Timmy was probably able to cover both Zydrunas and Gooden by himself …

      Like the 2004 Olympics (as a 19 year old) and the 2006 World Championships (as a 21 year old)before, much of the blame apportioned to LBJ for the Cavs loss in the 2007 finals is offbase.

      Posted by Ken | January 25, 2013, 10:53 am
      • I have never gotten the feeling that he’s blamed for the loss. He was a guy without a jumpshot who got a lot of defensive attention from the best defensive team that year.
        The media basically anticipated a sweep or a five game series back then and LeBron wasn’t expected to repeat his performance against Detroit, – in the games where his jumper was off, he struggled the same way against Detroit by the way – so only guys like Bayless didn’t absolve him.

        Posted by Chris | January 25, 2013, 11:01 am
        • Agreed, in general … though I think you’ll find an overwhelming abundance of blame for LeBron’s inability to win that series (by himself, apparently) in some communities (try lakersgound.net, by way of example) …

          Posted by Ken | January 25, 2013, 11:26 am
          • He could have prolonged the series if he scored more – those other guys sure as hell couldn’t – but that wouldn’t have changed the overall outcome.
            If it’s true that LeBron chides himself for that loss, it may accounts for some of his actions in the following years and, atleast for me, shines some new light on him.

            Posted by Chris | January 25, 2013, 11:46 am
  6. All — thanks for the comments. Let me clarify what I meant — D

    Do I think Mike Brown is a bad coach? No.

    Do I think he is the championship coach for a dynastic team? Absolutely not.

    Do I think this Lakers roster can overcome this to win a championship this year? Perhaps.

    Mike Brown is a good defensive coach, but let’s face it, most of his success has come with perhaps the greatest basketball organization of the last 15 years (the Spurs) and with one of the great players of all-time (Lebron). He has not shown great ability to manage multiple egos nor run a proficient offense predicated on ball movement. Subjectively, he doesn’t have the “swag” of a great coach, seeming to pander to players too frequently — this all leads me to be concerned that he can win and win repeatedly at the highest levels. And if he can’t do that, he automatically fails expectations as a Laker coach (though he may do just fine in Sacramento).

    Posted by Brown Mamba | October 30, 2012, 6:52 pm
  7. Mamba, I completely agree with your assessment of Brown and the Lakers potential issue with him as head coach on a long-term basis …

    The underlying problem is that the only coaches who fit the bill in terms of creating a dynastic opportunity are PJ, Pop, and Doc (the NBA coaches, not dwarves or smurfs) … I think that’s it at the moment … college guys like Calipari or Donovan cannot deliver with professionals … so three guys … and I have a hard time seeing any of those three taking a seat in Lakerland if / when Brown is relieved of command …

    The best bet (assuming Brown doesn’t work out … It’s too soon to tell) is probably to bring back Brian Shaw and see if he can pull it off …

    Posted by Ken | October 31, 2012, 9:22 am
    • Calipari? Donovan? You forgot to list the other highly over rated, ethically challenged coach, Patino.

      Tom Izzo could probably be a good NBA coach, but why risk what he has at Michigan State to coach a team of malcontents or lazy check cashers?

      Calipari is such a great coach that a team with FIVE first round NBA draftees was beaten by Northern Iowa.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | October 31, 2012, 2:17 pm
    • I agree with your coaches list. I will say that I was very critical of Coach Spro in Miami before the team won the title. I wasn’t sure if he was capable of steering a team like that. But he has shown that he is, he taught them to shut out the noise and focus on what is important. He got the most out of his role players at exactly the right moment. And he convinced Bosh that playing center is the right move on that team (because it is). So hes taken the team to two NBA finals and two seasons and won one of them. If Miami goes back for a third time in a row and if they win again this year I think he will be on that short list of elite coaches.

      All of that being said, I have more doubts about Mike Brown then I ever did about Coach Spro. I don’t think hes the coach to lead the Lakers to a title. And the only way he will quiet that noise is to lead them to a title. I have my doubts if they will even make the NBA finals much less have a chance of winning it. They looked horrible in the preseason and last night.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | October 31, 2012, 8:13 pm
  8. Yes, that’s why I asserted that those college coaches couldn’t deliver in the pros, much less a dynasty …

    Posted by Ken | October 31, 2012, 7:22 pm
  9. Glad to see that you guys are back in business. The Lakers have already shown that they will need some time to get everyone on the same page and are susceptible to injury with their accumulated age. The Thunder are still formidable, of course, but I think that the Harden trade was a mistake and they will miss him. The Clippers have the talent to be top-3 or better in the West, but I’m not sold on Vinny Del Negro getting them there.

    That leaves … the Spurs? Why not? If we’re talking regular-season standings, they’ve finished atop the West each of the last two seasons. Sure, their core is aging, but they have a lot of depth, they have great chemistry and play well as a unit, and Popovich is a master at getting the most out of them. I don’t think they have the talent to beat the Lakers or Thunder in the playoffs, but I could certainty see them finishing #1 out West in the regular season again.

    Posted by E-Dog | November 1, 2012, 7:58 am
    • E-dog = prescient …

      on the other hand, my picks were awful … sacramento as a sleeper??? sheesh …

      now, with Parker out, we’ll get a chance to really appreciate Pop and his system … my hunch is that the Spurs manage to maintain their stranglehold on first place in th West …

      Western Conference | Playoff Predictions

      1 San Antonio vs. 8 Golden State (SA in 4)
      4 Memphis vs. 5 Denver (Denver in 6)

      3 LA Clippers vs. 6 Houston (LA in 5)
      2 Oklahoma City vs. 7 LA Lakers (OKC in 5)

      San Antonio vs. Denver (SA in 5)
      LA Clippers vs. Oklahoma City (OKC in 6)

      San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City (SA in 7)

      Posted by Ken | March 8, 2013, 3:18 pm
  10. What is this “princeton offense” that they always talk about? I’ve heard it a few times over the last few days regarding the Lakers….

    Posted by Mike | November 1, 2012, 11:48 am
  11. Simplicity speaking, the “Princeton Offense” is one that utilizes a lot of movement without the ball that leads to a lot of back door cuts and openings along the baselines.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 1, 2012, 12:16 pm
    • Alex, I’ll take “Basketball strategies” for $2,000 …

      The answer is “none” …

      Uh, what is, “[H]ow many national championships has Princeton won running their vaunted “Princeton offense”?

      Sir Charles cut to the chase pretty well on this one … “I want my accountants from Princeton, not my offense” … nevermind that Accountancy is an odd choice for a Princeton grad … Pete Carrill won jack with that scheme, so unless the Lakers are going to be satisfied with a best case scenario of “almost” upsetting a favored team this year, they had better initiate Plan B soon …

      Posted by Ken | November 1, 2012, 1:55 pm
      • Nonsense. Pete Carrill’s the winningest coach in Ivy League history and his team’s win in the NIT is one of the great sports stories out there. It’s completely absurd to expect a team of true student-athletes like Princeton to compete against teams full of NBA-ready talent from schools like Duke and UCLA.

        Posted by lochpster | November 1, 2012, 4:59 pm
        • As to the Princeton offense maybe not being the best scheme for the Lakers, I tend to agree, but I think it’s far too early to bury it. Let’s let this team flesh itself out for a while before we make wholesale changes. Two games is an almost meaningless sample size, particularly with a team just trying to get used to playing with each other.

          Posted by lochpster | November 1, 2012, 5:27 pm
        • I stand by my comment: Carrill won jack (i.e., NCAA titles) with the Princeton offense.

          Patting him on the back for NIT wins and surmising that he would have won NCAA championships with AA talent is just plain old unfounded supposition … the days of John Wooden and Pete Carrill have long since passed …

          It’s about athletes now, less about schemes …

          Posted by Ken | November 2, 2012, 10:54 am
        • I hear you, but this isn’t Hoosiers out there … I don’t think the Princeton offense (which was actually conceived to offset as much of the athletic shortcomings of the Princeton student-athletes as possible) is going to look very good against the Heat or the Thunder or even the Nuggets …

          I know some of us pine for the days where it wasn’t a game exclusively for superathletes (made it easier to relate), but that ship sailed long ago …

          Posted by Ken | November 2, 2012, 11:08 am
          • What exactly is your concern with the Princeton offense so far? The Lakers are 6th in the league in offensive efficiency despite still learning the new system and being fairly timid. What’s not looked so good on offense? A putrid team-wide 60% free throw percentage and 19 turnovers per game, neither of which is not the fault of the Princeton offense. Steve Nash isn’t doing much in the offense right now, either, but he will adapt. Mostly, I believe the Princeton’s being scapegoated because the team’s losing.

            The Kings ran a much more slick Princeton offense back in the early 2000s and were one of the best offensive teams of the modern NBA, so it’s well-established in the NBA as an offense that works for offensively talented, athletic teams. The current Lakers squad, in terms of offensive talent, compares favorably to that team.

            The Laker’s problems thus far have been on defense, and it’s not pretty. Regardless of scheme or coaching, the Lakers just don’t have the defensive talent to compete without Dwight Howard being able to cover for his team’s age, lack of depth and overall lack of defensive talent at this point in their careers, and so far, he hasn’t been up to the task. He will likely get better as we get further from his back surgery, but until he rounds into form, this team’s really going to struggle.

            Posted by lochpster | November 2, 2012, 1:55 pm
          • The Kings had good success with the Princeton?Indiana style offense largely due to having two great and willing passers in Webber and Divac in the post.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 3, 2012, 9:23 am
      • Using winning the NCAA tournament as the means of measurement for anything is pretty shaky.

        Pete Carrill did very well with that system, in fact I would wager had Carrill had access to the talent that say a Pitinio or Calipari has had, he would very have won an NCAA tournament. Probably multiples.

        Moving without the ball and using screens to create back door openings is hardly a poor strategy.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 1, 2012, 8:30 pm
        • That’s the singular goal for all teams … to win the NCAA championship …. so I unconditionally disagree that it’s a shaky means of measurement vis-a-vis the efficacy of the Princeton system … I get that other factors shade actual outcomes (like, talent available), but the issue is whether the system was successful or not, full stop.

          Agreed that moving without the ball and using screens are hardly poor strategies … I will still choose athletes every time …

          Posted by Ken | November 2, 2012, 11:04 am
          • I think Bob Knight would disagree with you.

            It would be foolish, first of all, to establish a singular goal, as anything short of said goal would be, by definition, failure.

            I can tell you that Knight (and Tom Izzo) would much rather win their league than win a single elimination tournament; more-so if the league in question played a tire round robin.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 2, 2012, 10:21 pm
          • I don’t think I understand your point …

            It appears hat you are asserting that Tom Izzo and other top coaches at the college level would prefer winning their conference over winning the NCAA championship?

            I believe that it’s entirely about the economics; that talent and results drive the economics; and that glossy achievements like NCAA titles deliver the goods on that front more than anything else …

            The best recruits choose schools that win NCAA titles and can best prepare them or an NBA career … the chance to win the regular season Big Ten or SEC crown is only relevant insofar as it might net a higher seed in the tourney …

            There is only one goal when it comes to team aspirations …

            Posted by Ken | November 5, 2012, 10:08 am
          • Clearly, you do not understand the point.

            A coach, as with all good managers, understand that goals are incremental.

            You need to be mindful of what is directly in front of you as well as what lay down the road.

            With that, setting a goal of a league championship is a truer measure of a teams performance and growth rather than it’s ability to win 5 consecutive games against arbitrary opponents.

            The NCAA tournament is a product of hyperbole; it does not have true definition.

            Many is the time that the best team has not won the NCAA tournament as the element of randomness (luck) plays a larger role in a single game than it would in a best of seven series or multiple best of series. This is the NBA Championship has greater relevance.

            Winning an NCAA tournament and an NBA title are NOT congruent events. One is far more difficult and has far greater definition.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 5, 2012, 11:23 am
          • Rather than argue this point further, I’ll just say that what you describe is completely incompatible with the actual expectations of most Lakers fans … given their history of winning championships and the fact that 80% of their starting lineup will likely be retired within the next five years, winning now is all that matters …

            When it comes o building a franchise or a collegiate program in a thoughtful and strategic way, we are in complete accord as it relates to your point … but for this Laker team, there are no incremental goals of any consequence. And that’s why the Princeton offense may not work for this team at this time …

            Posted by Ken | November 5, 2012, 1:11 pm
          • Greater relevance, not absolute relevance … I also think luck plays a significant role in NBA titles … luck-of-the-draw on match-ups, injuries, and officiating assignments are very likely to affect outcomes at the NBA level …

            Posted by Ken | November 5, 2012, 1:17 pm
          • Your points,as they pertain to the Lakers of 2012-13, I do agree with.

            I think saying that retirement form most of the roster in five years is pretty generous, though.

            I would wager that Bryant, Gasol, Metta World Peace, Nash and Jamison are all gone within 3 years, or less.

            That would leave Howard with Hill, Blake, Morris, Ebanks, Meeks, Sacre, Clark and Duhon.

            In that respect, the Lakers absolutely need to win now; there is no future for this team beyond this season.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 5, 2012, 8:08 pm
      • And to Sir Charles. . .

        I want my commentators to speak English and to offer GOOD and INSIGHTFUL analysis rather than cheeky comments and offhanded hyperbole.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 1, 2012, 8:32 pm
        • Wowzers …

          This comment reminds me of the learned folk in flyover country who say things like, “You want to come to Anerica, you better speak English … your language (Spanish, Mandarin, urbanized English, take your pick) makes you sound dumb” … I don’t think that was your intent, Paulie, but it doesn’t read right to me …

          But guess what, Paulie? Most of the guys playing the game talk just like Chuck … maybe it would make others happier if they spoke the Queen’s English, but, you know …

          Posted by Ken | November 2, 2012, 10:59 am
      • He also said he didn’t want any players from Princeton either.

        Posted by Milhouse | November 2, 2012, 10:10 am
  12. Maybe an exception for that kid sired by Bill Walton …

    Posted by Ken | November 2, 2012, 11:00 am
  13. Wow, Miami is playing like crap tonight. A bit off topic but had to say it.

    I don’t think this offense works with the players the Lakers have. It might take a season (or more) to figure out what is the best offense for their skill set. It did with Miami for them to figure out that they need to put their best group on the floor and make teams adjust to them instead of trying to bang inside with the bigger teams.

    Can the Lakers discover something like that, which will force other teams to adjust to them, and if so how long will it take?

    Posted by nightbladehunter | November 2, 2012, 7:20 pm
  14. One other thought: James Harden, man oh man. As long as he stays healthy, the Rockets will make the playoffs and he will get some MVP consideration.

    Posted by E-Dog | November 3, 2012, 11:12 am
  15. Now I realize the question marks surrounding the Timberwolves, but I believe they have potential to be a 7 or 8 seed. Kevin Love is the most consistent double double threat in the entire league and budding into a true superstar, Pekovich anchors the middle, Rubio showed great promise before his injury, the acquisitions of Roy and Kirilenko bring the stability and veteran leadership to take the team from the bottom of the league to a low playoff seed, and the Wolves have a deceptively deep bench with the solid play of Ridnour, Barea, and the explosive Derrick Williams. Good preview, but I believe the Wolves will be turning some heads this year as they climb the conference ladder.

    Posted by Max Malone | November 3, 2012, 2:08 pm
    • Chase Budinger is another unsung “glue” guy on the Wolves to help them this season … however, they are gonna need to get Love and Rubio back on the floor to even sniff 20 wins this year … but I think you’re right overall … they can contend for a 7 / 8 seed with a healthy roster.

      The probability of a playoff berth for the Wolves increase dramatically if they can fit the Pistons on their schedule a few more times … (I am hereby on record predicting that the 2012/2013 Pistons will go down as one of the most inept teams in NBA history) …

      Posted by Ken | November 5, 2012, 10:20 am
      • For the record, who would put on your short list of other most inept teams?

        Would could the Pistons supplant?

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 5, 2012, 11:25 am
        • I’ll have to give it more than passing thought and get back to you … perhaps I was too harsh based on a three game sample, burying them with the all-time bad teams. But, in fairness, it does seem that Lawrence Frank has the effect of being around teams that seem to play much poorer together than one would expect given the parts … it looked like. Team that should be contracted last night vs. the Lakers.

          Off the top of my head in the past 5 years, the 2011 Cavs were pretty awful, as were the 2010 Nets.

          There have to be a handful of Clippers teams in there, too … maybe some Heat and Bobcat teams, as well …

          I avtually like some of the Detroit assets quite a bit; I see promise in Knight’s game and I think Monroe and Drummond might make 2/3 of a good frontcourt … but they made Dwight Howard look like Wilt last night …

          Posted by Ken | November 5, 2012, 1:04 pm
          • You may wish to check the following:

            1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers 9-73
            1997-98 Denver Nuggets 11-71
            1986-87 LA Clippers 12-70
            1992-93 Dallas Mavericks 11-71
            1993-94 Dallas Mavericks 13-69
            1988-89 Miami Heat 15-67
            2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats 7-59

            As you can see, the Mavericks had two of the worst season ever consecutively.

            Without establishing any criteria for finding truly awful teams*, I would have to say the Mavericks from 1992-1994 were the worst as they didn’t improve from even that dismal of a W/L.

            *(some teams may have been lucky or unlucky 4 or 6 times a year, but still have been worse than say. . .the Nuggets in 1997-98),

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 5, 2012, 8:01 pm
          • And yes, ESPN/Disney analyst, Tim Legler was on those Maverick teams.

            Now you know WHY you should disregard anything that comes out of his yap.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | November 5, 2012, 8:12 pm
  16. The Western Conference is just so interesting. Other than maybe Phoenix, there’s not a single team that doesn’t have the talent to compete for a playoff spot. I actually really like Portland this year as a team that could make some serious noise.

    Posted by lochpster | November 3, 2012, 7:29 pm
  17. Excuse the rant here, but I wanted to vent about the slow-starting Oklahoma City Thunder. Yes, they’re only three games in, but my concern stems from the fact that their early struggles this year pretty much mirror those from LAST year and other years before that. Now, some might argue that they’re missing James Harden, but I mostly disagree with that assertion. I submit that, with regards to their talent-level, they are still a championship caliber team. I like the ease with which Kevin Martin makes defenders bite on his shot fake and scores from the perimeter, and I believe that Jeremy Lamb will become a servicable role player coming off of OKC’s bench soon enough.

    All of that being said – despite my picking OKC to win this year’s title – I don’t see them sealing the deal if they continue to play as they have over the past few games. Their poor half-court execution, Westbrook’s lack of a transition from scoring point guard to TRUE point guard who primarily sets the table for his teammates and scores as it is opportune to do so, Durant’s apparent unwillingness to demand the ball more throughout the game (because that might seem selfish), and a (very good) coach who too often allows all of this to happen from courtside all suggest to me, a hopeful yet frustrated Thunder fan, a sad conclusion: the sting of last year has yet to change OKC’s bad habits. While Harden did much to lessen the blows of the aforementioned problems last year, those issues were ultimately too much to overcome against Miami in the Finals.

    This year, those hurdles CAN be cleared without Harden. I’m not saying that Kevin Martin will completely fill the void left by Harden, but he doesn’t have to. I thought that part of last year’s collapse stemmed from Durant’s failure to assume greater command of his team in crunchtime – where he has clearly earned the right to more touches. I believe that this happened as a result of Durant stretching one of his most admirable traits – his loyalty – too far. He didn’t want to get in the way of Westbrook playing as he had for much of their successful run to the Finals. However, on the game’s biggest stage, that approach simply wasn’t the answer. Add to that OKC’s horrid perimter defense, bad ball movement/half court execution, lack of low-post scoring and largely ineffective paint protection, and the results were less than stellar.

    The Thunder were at their best in the final four games of last season’s western conference finals. Despite a low scoring output during this span, Westbrook played some of the best point guard I’ve ever seen from him. His assists were high, turnovers low, and the team’s offense had a much better flow to it. Everyone’s decision-making appeared to benefit once Westbrook slowed himself down. Durant was free to do what he does best in the fourth quarter, whether it was by scoring or creating opportunities for his teammates off of penetration. The decrease in turnovers also allowed OKC to settle in defensively, after which they used their speed and athleticism to counter the Spurs’ excellent ball movement. In some respects, they became a better version of the Spurs. Harden of course had a significant hand in their success, but beyond that it was their greatest TEAM effort of the 2012 postseason. Everyone did their job well. If the Thunder return to this style of play and stay with it, they can still win a championship without the beard.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 6, 2012, 4:05 pm
  18. Yes but can they get past Miami, that is the question. Lebron doesn’t have the questions around him anymore. And so far at least hes improved from last season. Hes appears to be a better jump shooter. Plus Miami got better with Ray Allen, hes a huge upgrade for the bench.

    Also you do understand Miami beat OKC with Wade at 70% right?

    If Miami brings its best game in the playoffs I don’t see any team that can beat them in a 7 game series.

    Finally saw Miami play defense last night and that was a good sign to go along with an improved offense.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | November 8, 2012, 8:51 am
    • Last year was last year. This year is this year. It’s all about getting your rhythm at the right time.

      Last year, had the Thunder and the Heat met in the first round instead of the finals, the outcome could have been completely different.

      Nonetheless I agree that the Heat are the team to beat.

      Posted by doosiolek | November 8, 2012, 10:50 am
    • They can get past Miami. What I understand most about OKC’s loss to the Heat last year was that the Thunder’s mistakes, while horrid and quite costly, were/are all correctable. It seemed that everytime Lebron drove the lane, Durant, Westbrook, and others felt compelled to leave their men wide open on the perimeter to help. This opened up TOO many free opportunities for shooters like Battier, Chalmers, and Miller. The solution to this? More discipline.

      I’ll again refer to last year’s western conference finals; the last four games of that series were like a glimpse into what OKC could be at their best: having the league’s best scorer in their lineup, the excellent ball movement, their great speed and athleticism as defenders on the perimeter and as scorers in transition, the lack of turnovers and their high, mostly realized potential for sharpshooting all made for what I believed to be the better team going into last year’s Finals. Part of OKC’s failure on the big stage can be attributed to their inexperience and inexplicable regression towards the sloppy play that put them in a 0-2 hole vs the Spurs, and made their 2nd round series vs the Lakers – and even their 1st round sweep of Dallas – more difficult than they ought to have been. In fact, I would argue that last year’s Finals was nearly as much about what OKC DIDN’T do as it was about Miami’s play. Don’t get me wrong – Wade, to your point, was not at his healthiest and Lebron was the best player on the floor. Miami earned their title victory. That being said, there’s so much more that OKC could have done. They consistently made costly gambles with their help defense, Westbrook consistently forced the issue as a scorer and badly stifled the team’s offensive flow as a result, Durant was not assertive enough nearly throughout the series, and Coach Brooks struggled with making proper (and properly-timed) substitutions for much of the series. If OKC corrects these issues and brings their A-game, they become a better version of last year’s Spurs and can turn to the league’s best scorer when plays break down, especially down the stretch.

      Miami does indeed appear to have improved. Lebron comes across as a player and man who’s changed for the better on both accounts (not that he was a bad guy before), Wade and Bosh are both healthy, and Ray Allen could make very positive contributions to anyone’s bench. However, winning the crown and defending it are two different tasks. The much-hyped hunter has become the hunted, and OKC is one of their pursuers with much of the same traits (great defensive and transitional speed, athleticism, youth, depth, sharpshooting and a couple of the league’s best players) for which Miami’s been lauded since their inception. As for your point about Lebron’s improved outside shooting? Nice to have on a rainy day, but his bread is still buttered off of penetration. If he vacations too often out on the perimeter, the Heat will probably suffer for it. Wade and Allen’s durability issues in recent seasons are also valid concerns, though I hope that said concerns aren’t realized for good basketball’s sake. Keeping all of this in mind, I’m not sold on a Heat’s repeat just yet.

      Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 8, 2012, 2:13 pm
  19. Btw are we going to get an EAST Preview any time soon?

    Posted by nightbladehunter | November 8, 2012, 9:11 am
    • I think Brown Mamba doesn’t care about EAST all that much :)

      Posted by doosiolek | November 8, 2012, 10:50 am
    • BTW me and my friend always predict the finals standings before regular season starts. Here’s my prediction for the EAST:

      Miami Heat
      Boston Celtics
      Indiana Pacers
      Philadelphia 76ers
      Brooklyn Nets
      New York Knicks
      Chicago Bulls
      Milwaukee Bucks
      Atlanta Hawks
      Toronto Raptors
      Washington Wizards
      Cleveland Cavaliers
      Orlando Magic
      Charlotte Bobcats
      Detroit Pistons

      Posted by doosiolek | November 8, 2012, 10:54 am
      • When do you think Rose will return? I’m assuming you are thinking it is going to be the entire year if you have the Bulls as a 7th seed.

        Posted by pointguard40 | November 8, 2012, 4:36 pm
        • According to different sources Rose will not return until after the All-Star break, but it is only one of the reasons I see the Bulls as the 7th seed.

          Last year the Bulls proved to everybody they can win without Rose (at least in the regular season), but I think that Chicago overachieved that last two years and, I may be wrong on this, you cannot overachieve each year. So this + Derrick’s injury = 7th seed for the Bulls.

          The way the season went so far it seems I may have been right with that prediction. Bulls are 3-2 (while having played 4 home games already + having played 4 teams which probably won’t make the playoffs).

          We can expect that when Rose is back Bulls start playing better, but honestly we don’t know what shape Rose will be in. He may as well lose a step.

          Posted by doosiolek | November 9, 2012, 3:46 am
  20. Kudos to the Thunder for what they’ve done in the past two games, including tonight’s vs the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. Aside from the fact that they won both contests (the other victory coming vs the Raptors), their ball movement has increased significantly thanks in large part to Westbrook’s MUCH improved decision-making and patience. Combine that with fast, stifling rotations on defense, and the results are rather encouraging signs of things to come. Yes, the opposition does leave a bit to be desired from a competitive standpoint (QUITE a bit in the case of Toronto), but at least the change is starting somewhere. Turnovers are still a problem (22 tonight, 6 by Durant – not good), but I chalk some of that up to the newness of the system in which they now play. As they settle in and become more decisive with the ball sooner in the shotclock, I expect such mistakes to trend downward over time.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 8, 2012, 8:42 pm
  21. Lakers fired Mike Brown. Does this change anyone’s picks? They are looking at the former NY coach or Phil Jackson to replace him. If they get Phil Jackson back…that will take care of their coaching issue for sure.

    As a basketball fan I would love to see him coaching again. As a Heat fan I hope he stays retired.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | November 10, 2012, 7:30 am
    • Mike D’Antoni!

      I think this makes the Lakers a serious threat to the Miami Heat for multiple reasons. Without going into much detail, initially, here’s why I think the Lakers and Mike D’Antoni are a great match:

      1. Mike D’Antoni + Steve Nash = success
      2. Mike D’Antoni has experience coaching superstars
      3. Kobe Bryant respects Mike D’Antoni
      4. Mike D’Antoni has a Center that can play defense
      5. Although this team has older legs than his Phoenix squads of the past, Mike D’Antoni usually used short rotations. The Lakers don’t have much depth, but they might have the best top 6 in the league.

      Posted by Nick | November 12, 2012, 11:43 pm
  22. The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni…and Thunder Fans everywhere rejoiced.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 12, 2012, 9:54 am
    • How is Mike D’Antoni not a good fit for the Lakers? Judging by this post, you seem to think that MDA will not be able to turn things around in the City of Angels. Are you basing this off his recent failure in New York? Or did you not see his success with the Phoenix squad for multiple years that included current Lakers point guard Stephen John Nash? Please explain why Thunders Fans rejoice.

      Posted by Nick | November 12, 2012, 11:35 pm
      • Do you envision this Lakers team running the “7 seconds or less” – paced offense that MDA once implemented in Phoenix? Or are you banking on D’Antoni’s brilliant basketball mind (and it is brilliant) to churn out a new style of play that will bring a hobbled, old (and aging still) Lakers roster up-to-snuff on stopping younger, faster, deeper teams like those in OKC, San Antonio (yes, the Spurs are younger overall than these Lakers), and Clipper land? Please understand, I regret coming across as insulting as I did to D’Antoni in my previous post, and I acknowledge that he’s one of the better coaches this league has to offer. However, before I hear the arguments from an assortment of analysts and coaches that “D’Antoni’s ability to coach defense isn’t as lacking as you might think” or “his teams’ numbers on defense are skewed because he ran high-paced offenses that gave the opposition more possessions”, I ask: why run a system like that in the first place, and with no meaningful defensive adjustments over time to boot? D’Antoni is a good coach and, by all accounts I’ve heard, a good guy. That said, if the Lakers’ goals are as lofty as they claim them to be, then I don’t believe they’ve done themselves any significant favors with this hire.

        Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 13, 2012, 11:34 am
        • Trust me, I’m all for criticism – I just wanted to hear another take on the MDA signing. As you can tell, I’m all for it. I’m not a Laker aficionado by any measure, I just thought he was a great improvement over Mike Brown.

          I agree that the Lakers do not have the personnel to run the “7 seconds-or-less” offense. Basketball fans have already heard the average-age-of-the-Lakers knock, so I won’t go there. A full season of that offense would absolutely murder Kobe/Nash/Peace and wouldn’t allow Howard to fully heal. Further, the Lakers do not possess the necessary depth to run that type of high octane offense effectively for more than 82 games.

          That said, I don’t see MDA implementing that offense in LA. As you stated, he’s too smart of a coach to put the miles on such old legs. He must hear the media criticism of the way he played Amar’e into the ground during his Phoenix tenure, right? Sooner or later, he has to realize that such a putrid defense will never win a championship, not to mention he has the best defensive center in the league.

          It will be interesting to see how the Lakers will fare against, as you stated, OKC, SA, and LAC. In comparison to these other squads, the Lakers’ depth doesn’t compete. Although he’ll be able to get the best out of Meeks, Jamison, and Steve Blake, one has to wonder will that be enough?

          Posted by Nick | November 13, 2012, 12:51 pm
          • I appreciate the feedback, and your points are certainly valid. I expect the Lakers to be markedly better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning (barring significant injuries). Though I found Mr. Buss’ treatment of Coach Brown to be rather unseemly (as if thirteen games – only five of which had any bearing on their playoff hopes – with a revamped roster told the Lakers’ front office all they needed to know), MDA might ultimately justify their decision. He’s a good coach with solid playoff experience. That said, while I anticipate that the Lakers will be good team and a tough playoff out (as such a talented assortment should be), I’m not convinced that they’ll ever be the league’s next Miami Heat.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 13, 2012, 3:01 pm
  23. No, I don’t think that they can beat the Heat. Although it would make an exciting NBA Finals, I think the Heat trump L.A. in two categories by a significant margin:

    1. Depth. I think that the Lakers have a superior starting 5, but Miami’s depth is much better. Miami’s personnel ideally fits their style of play. Conversely, since we have yet to see L.A.’s offense under D’Antoni, it cannot be concluded how players like Jordan Hill can contribute.

    2. Chemistry. Since this is the Big 3’s third year together, this is a given.

    It would also be interesting to see how L.A. would respond to Miami’s small lineup. How would Pau Gasol guard LeBron at the 4? And this isn’t even getting into the fact that the Lakers’ window is MAYBE two years.

    Posted by Nick | November 13, 2012, 3:15 pm
    • Yeah, I mean, while Miami’s not wholly the most spry group of youngsters themselves (Ray Allen and Shane Battier are there to contribute NOW, not a couple of years down the line), their big three’s youth, speed, and explosiveness often compensates for their shortcomings elsewhere. As for their depth, well, Miami has several former legitimate starters and, in Ray Allen’s case, a future HOF’er coming off of their bench. LA’s second unit doesn’t compare to that.

      The same could be said for OKC and San Antonio, and I don’t envision any of their respective big threes losing sleep over the newly-formed one in LA. Sure, Dwight Howard presents his share of matchup problems, and the scoring exploits of the other two are legendary, but talent and skill only go so far vs age and attrition. Add to that concern the talent and skill of the other big threes, and the Lakers are left facing a STEEP upward climb to another banner.

      Posted by Brandon Crockett | November 13, 2012, 6:41 pm
  24. Hello your site url: http://chasing23.com/2012-13-nba-western-conference-preview/ appears to be redirecting to a completely different web site when
    I click the homepage button. You may want to have this checked.

    Posted by Jocelyn | December 27, 2012, 9:07 am
  25. recalibration @ 1/2/2013:

    1. OKC
    2. San Antonio
    3. LA Clippers
    4. Memphis
    5. Houston
    6. LA Lakers
    7. Denver
    8. Golden State

    six seed? what a joke with that roster … yet another nail in that ridiculous “Kobe = all time great” coffin …

    Posted by Ken | January 2, 2013, 12:35 pm
  26. my calibration and re-calibration devices can suck it …

    17 wins – 24 losses through 1/2 the season …


    3 wins – 9 losses with the 4 Hall of Famers + former DPOY All Star (MWP) and 20,000 point former All Star (Antawn) all in action …

    i say, i say … can someone please indulge me with fairy tales regarding how Kobe would have certainly lifted the Cavs (ilgauskus, hughes, gooden and rookie shannon brown FTW!) greater heights than LeBron was able to, yet somehow is on pace to miss the playoffs altogether with this squad? talk about karma …

    also, while I’m on the subject of “I told you so” … to all those quick to laud Kobe’s early shooting efficiency … regression to the mean wins again … he’s back down into the 46 – 47% range and i look for him to settle into the 44 – 45% range by year’s end, which is saying a lot considering how many point-blank shots he gets these days … it seems like a typical game for Kobe these days (and for several years now) is comprised of 4 – 5 shots made within 5 feet, 2 – 3 shots made from 5 to 15 feet, and 2 – 4 shots made from beyond 15 feet … and, of course, 11 – 15 missed shots.

    Posted by Ken | January 22, 2013, 8:45 am
    • one last thought for the moment … when you couple the 20 – 25 FG attempts with the 3 – 4 turnovers and the 6 – 8 FT attempts each night, you begin to see the emergence of one very big cause (the primary cause) for the Lakers failing so badly this season, among many others … that ball dominance translates into nearly 30% of the team’s possessions …

      the result: despite having all the help a superstar might need, the team is 17 – 24 …

      the guy isn’t just overrated, he’s all time overrated … ’nuff said.

      Posted by Ken | January 22, 2013, 8:58 am
    • This is too rich, as if Kobe’s horrid performance this year is some indictment on his former play.

      Maybe we should judge Jordan on his final season and say “I told ya so!”.

      Or better yet, let’s call Lebron “Unclutch” when he’s 34, if he’s even playing, as his athletic prowess diminishes, and he’s reduced to a shell of his younger self.

      Just ridiculous.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 22, 2013, 4:52 pm
      • I agree with Gil.

        This is egregious piling on.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 22, 2013, 4:57 pm
      • I guess his argument uses the basis of: “Now that he isn’t surrounded by great players that play accordingly, his non-winning play is exposed”, or something along those lines.
        I have read your posts Gil, and you overrate Kobe in my opinion, but you’re right that Ken is going overboard with this.

        Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 4:57 pm
        • Chris – I accept that many believe I overrate Kobe, but as you can see Ken’s underrate far exceeds my overrating! I’ve got Kobe top 10 and second best Shooting guard (apologies Paulie, yes I know, Jerry West, I even have Wade ahead of him) I don’t even know if he has Kobe top 20 …

          Posted by Gil Meriken | January 22, 2013, 5:34 pm
          • West is that kind of ‘tweener. he wasn’t a true shooting guard, tho he did shoot really well.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 22, 2013, 5:36 pm
  27. To be fair to Kobe, the players he is with are not superstars…other then maybe Howard who is clearly playing hurt. Also the system they are in is horrible and their coach sucks badly.

    That being said talent alone should get this team to the playoffs, even playing no defense. I bet the Lakers wish they still had Mike Brown as their head coach.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | January 22, 2013, 10:36 am
    • NBH … I disagree … MDA and his system do suck, but there is a very good reason why the Lakers win – loss rate without Kobe over the past 16+ seasons (n = 100+ games) translates into less than 3 fewer losses (over the course of a scaled 82 game season) than when he actually plays …

      1. Dwight Howard is a superstar … if Kobe sat out the next five games, I would bet a small fortune that Dwight Howard would all of a sudden start averaging 25 and 15 on 60% shooting with Steve Nash, Pau and MWP around him (more than he ever had in Orlando) …

      2. Pau Gasol is a star … did you see his play vs. Orlando and Boston several years ago? did you see his play for Espana barely 6 months ago … Kobe sits, he goes to 18 and 12 overnight …

      3. Steve Nash is a star … Kobe sits, he goes to 15 and 10 on 50% shooting overnight …

      4. MWP is a starter on 24 other teams … Kobe sits, he’s good for 12 and 7 …

      Bottom line, sometimes accepting the idea of addition by subtraction is a bitter pill to swallow … by the way, the effect of the MJ and LBJ with/without analysis is 20+ games in their respective careers …

      Posted by Ken | January 22, 2013, 11:03 am
  28. Steve Nash isn’t a star, he might still be an offensive force, but he is not capable of playing defense. You have to be capable of doing both to be a star.

    Pau while a very good player is not an elite player anymore. He is also not being used correctly which goes back to the coaching and the system.

    MWP is old and has been overrated for years.

    While I am not a Kobe supporter, I understand the game enough to enjoy what he brings to the game and the level he plays at still. What we are seeing is Kobe not being able to play both ways at the same time. Hes good on offense or good on defense, but not both at the same time. That is mostly due to age and the minutes he has logged.

    But the way you write about him, you make it seem like hes A.I or something like that.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | January 22, 2013, 1:20 pm
  29. your words, not mine … but in the final analysis, he’s been a hell of a lot closer to AI than he has been to MJ …

    kobe was better than AI defensively, but other than that, what? both were volume scorers who boarded and dished at pretty average levels for their respective sizes …

    let’s not forget that AI’s career scoring average is considerably higher than Kobe’s … and where Kobe argues he didn’t start until his third year, I calmly point out that AI’s average was likewise drawn down by his final few seasons of lower production at the tail end of his run (which are yet o come for Kobe) …

    Posted by Ken | January 22, 2013, 2:10 pm
    • While I’m not a fan of him, I nevertheless don’t think it’s fair to portray Kobe as a player close to AI. Almost all advanced +/- metrics grade Kobe as a top 5 offensive player in the last 10 years. It’s only fair to place him on an offensive lofty plain with guys like Nash, LeBron, Kidd and CP3. All you are doing is citing points per game and fg%, which are both barely of any use.
      I mean, he has tendencies that pigeonhold his teams and he hasn’t used his skill in the best interest of the team over the years, but I just can’t understand how one can look down on him as if he was a bigger, more skilled Jordan Crawford. He isn’t as good as MJ and both LeBron and KD have very good chances to come up with better careers, but who has had a better career than me since Jordan besides Duncan?

      Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 4:01 pm
      • do you mean since Jordan retired (the first time)?

        Or since Jordan was in the league?

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 22, 2013, 4:55 pm
        • Since his last and hopefully ultimate retirement. I guess you can argue that Shaq’s peak was more dominant, but Kobe had more quality years.

          Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 5:00 pm
          • historically, it seems that smaller players are more effective longer. I am sure that carrying that huge body and also taking a massive beating in the paint play big factors.

            What about Nowitzki? Garnett? Wade?

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 22, 2013, 5:10 pm
          • Wade’s career won’t be long enough to catapult him in front of Kobe. And despite his favorable PER and WS scores, I don’t see Wade as a better offensive player. He has been a better defender in the last 5 years, but we shouldn’t forget that Kobe was one of the top 3 wing defenders between 2001 and 2004 and that was better than anything I have ever seen from Wade.
            On the other hand, Wade’s playoff level is really underrated and he had less duds than Kobe and higher highs, but obviously much less time to shine.

            Nowitzki is right there with the 5 guys I mentioned offensively, but his defense really keeps him out of our conversation of the best careers since Jordan.

            Garnett is in my mind the best defensive player since Olajuwon – atleast from the viewpoint of consistency on a high level – but his impact on offense hasn’t been as big as his skillset would make you believe, which mainly stems from the often voiced criticism, that he didn’t use his skills, especially when we was asked to dominate offensively. He had all the tools to end up as the best PF ever, but he had bad luck and didn’t do everything he had to…too bad.

            Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 8:16 pm
          • Perhaps I’m reading this wrong, but it seems to me the best player since Jordan’s last retirement (in 2003) is Lebron, hands down.

            Paulie’s comment about smaller players being effective longer is quite the opposite of reality. Since 1950, the four oldest players to take the court were big men. Sixteen of the top 25 players in terms of games played are bigs, as are 14 of the top 25 are in terms of minutes played. Size and strength hang around a lot longer than speed and quickness.

            Posted by lochpster | January 22, 2013, 11:15 pm
          • Chris,

            I do agree with your assessment of Bryant. Which is why I have him behind Duncan and right next to Shaq on my all time list.

            I do see James surpassing all three of them.

            The players I mentioned are (along with Nash) the only others that started around that time frame that are possibles in my mind. Though I may have omitted some.


            I hadn’t done any type of objective study on longevity/effectiveness; thanks for the correction.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 23, 2013, 3:07 am
          • @LOCHPSTER:
            Right about LeBron. But the others had quality years before, something I can’t ignore and it was about overall careers after all. But since 2003 LeBron has had the highest peak and the best overall peformance.

            Posted by Chris | January 23, 2013, 4:45 am
          • Fair enough re Lebron. I suppose it all depends on how you ask the question.

            Also, I question your assertion that Kobe had more quality years than Shaq. Kobe is in his 17th year, and Shaq played 19 seasons. Shaq was a 20-10 guy for 13 of those seasons and just missed that in his 14th year. He remained a quality starter capable of playing significant minutes until his 17th year, and in his last 2 he was still starting and effective in limited duty. Obviously, some of those seasons he did miss time to injury, which one might choose not to count.

            Kobe, conversely, didn’t really emerge as an important piece for the Lakers until his 3rd year, and wasn’t a star until his 4th. I would give him at most the same number of quality seasons as Shaq, and possibly fewer, depending on where your yardstick is.

            You can, of course, argue quality any way you want-ultimately it’s in the eye of the beholder. However, based their careers to date, IMO Shaq still leads Kobe in both peak value and volume of quality production by a fair margin. The trick, of course, is that Kobe is still writing his story, while Shaq’s book is closed.

            Posted by lochpster | January 23, 2013, 9:36 am
          • @LOCHPSTER:

            I just went through multiple data banks and I have to admit that you’re right. My memory was cluttered concerning the pre championship Shaq. I only remembered how disappointed I was with his performances back then. I guess I led recency bias cloud my judgement, mea culpa :)

            Posted by Chris | January 23, 2013, 10:24 am
      • For avoidance of doubt, please allow me to restate my positions re: Kobe …

        1. I value Kobe as a player in the Top 11 – 20 players of all time range (if forced to be more precise, I would likely have him around #14 or 15) … that’s not too different from Paulie’s ranking (by way of example), so I’m not sure that I’m really underrating him at all …

        2. I’m not just citing points and fg% … Iverson’s rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, and various advanced metrics are also nearer to Bryant’s than Bryant’s are to Jordan’s, and where there is a moderately greater difference (rebounds), it’s more than offset by other metrics in the mix (e.g. assists) … AI was also 5 – 6 inches and 30 – 40 lbs. less than Kobe, which shades favorably what he managed to accomplish on the floor IMO …

        3. I completely agree with your entire second paragraph above …

        4. There is ample evidence of the basis I use to value Kobe much lower than many others on this site weaved throughout the various blogs here … I can provide a Top 15 – 20 list of reasons if that would help anyone, but it’s really just cumulative at his point … only 1 r/s MVP, 2 Finals MVPs in 16+ seasons; < +3 game effect on his team over his career (play / don't play with n = 100+ games); .500 record as "the man" in three seasons in the middle of his prime; only playing on a competitive team when he has one of the Top 2 or 3 best rosters in the Association (and even failing to do that this year); < 41% FG %age in Finals games (at least 45 basis points below r/s rate) and nearly 1/1 assist-to-turnover ratio in hose games; in 37 Finals games, only 5 games at or above .50 FG %age (in 35 Finals games, MJ had 18) and over 1/3 of those games at or below .35 FG %age (MJ had 2 of this games); has "lead" his stacked teams to three 30+ point blowout losses in playoff CLOSEOUT games over he past seven years (unprecedented); and so much more …

        5. I stand by my position that AI's career should be viewed closer to Kobe's than Kobe's career should be viewed to MIchael Jordan's … just because I have MJ at #1 or #2 and Kobe at #14 or #15 and AI somewhere in the #30 – 45 range, it shouldn't be treated as some kind of linear conflict to have the 36th best player (by way of example) viewed as closer to the 14th or 15th than that 14th or 15th player is viewed relative to th 1st or 2nd …

        6. AI gets bonus points in my book for his legendary, iconic "practice" presser …

        Bottom line, I've never bought the Top 10 argument for Kobe (much less the Top 5 one), and his season further underscores the point … does anyone here really believe that MJ, Magic, Kareem, Bird, Wilt, Duncan, Oscar, Russell, LeBron, Hakeem, Shaq, and the others in th consensus Top 25 or so would fail so miserably with the roster? Hyperbolics regarding MDA and his system aside, I place a great deal of h blame squarely on Kobe's shoulders … you wanna eat first, no matter what? No problem; just make sure to answer for your entire team if the meal sucks.

        Posted by Ken | January 23, 2013, 9:01 am
        • 1. That seems to be a fair assessment. I don’t do such lists normally, but because of longevity he would probably end up slightly higher on my theoretical one.
          2. Height and weight have no importance in this discussion. This isn’t about who is the best pound for pound player and basketball shouldn’t be confused with boxing. There are by the way positives about being smaller and lighter, not only negatives.
          Bryant is heavily favored by advanced metrics of all kind compared to Iverson, which mainly shows how badly Iverson grades with them.
          4. Kobe shouldn’t have even one MVP but that pedigree isn’t a good indicator of relative greatness. Otherwise Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Oscar Robertson (1 MVP) shouldn’t be near any alltime lists.
          And 2 final mvps is a great feat. He only deserved one (2009), but he was the best player during the playoffs on 3 championship teams (01,09,10) and the best player for those teams two times. Playing next to the dominant force that was Shaq shouldn’t be used to diminish his career by the magnitude you are implying. Additionally, are you really counting his first two seasons when he wasn’t even physically able to play in the nba for longer stretches?
          That games won/lost record without him mainly shows that he played on lots of good teams over the years and that he almost never missed games when he was on bad teams. But yeah, it doesn’t jive with the projections of the ardent Kobe fans.
          Those teams from 2004/05 up until the Gasol-trade should be graded between god awful and average. His performance wasn’t as good as those of LeBron and Duncan, but I would argue that he did more with less than e.g. Garnett.
          Kobe underperformed greatly in two of his finals appearances. Once he played injured and the other time he was in the middle of his rape case. He was horrible, don’t get me wrong, but cut him some slack. His entire finals oeuvre just shows that he likes to take tough shots and is often forced to take them additionally. Besides 2009, he never has risen to the occassion, so there is truth to your argument.
          The blowout losses aren’t important for me. The Thunder got blown out in game 5 last year and there was nothing feasible Durant could have done to stop it (he actually tried hard). But yeah, trying to gun your team to victory by taking all the shots in the 4th might not always be a functioning strategy.
          5. Agree.

          Bottom line: Hakeem had a lot of regular seasons I would grade as failure and I don’t know if a moody over 30 year old Oscar would do any better (he might kill Dwight in practice). But Kobe doesn’t have to be better at age 34 than the guys you listed just to be considered as one of the greatest, even if I take your other points into account.
          Maybe Kobe has troubles changing his style of play and maybe it would do the team better with him altering his role, but I don’t see any need to project major blame on single shoulders, when it’s rather obvious that everything is malfunctioning at the same time

          Posted by Chris | January 23, 2013, 10:17 am
          • What about my point #6? It’s the only one that counts anyway! Ha! Good x …

            We talkin’ ’bout … practice … not a game … not a game ….

            Posted by Ken | January 23, 2013, 10:44 am
        • I agree with most of your points above, Ken, and have Kobe somewhere in the 11-13 range myself. I don’t disagree that a player in the low to mid-teens isn’t closer to a player in the 30s than the #1 overall guy. I also agree with the idea that Kobe’s ball-dominance isn’t helpful for the Lakers, who have so many other guys who need the ball to be effective and one of the most effective floor generals in NBA history.

          I strongly disagree with the idea that the Lakers’ poor record this year is an indictment of Kobe’s career. Or that you can really indict someone for failing to live up to expectations in the twilight of their career. Sure, you can just blame Kobe, but as I always ask, where’s the proof?

          Kobe’s had his downs with teammates and is a major pain in the butt throughout the years. This year’s Lakers team is an astonishing failure, but there are enough things wrong with the Lakers from top to bottom that you can’t just pile it all on one player. Howard’s injury and attitude, Nash’s injury, Pau Gasol’s body and mind falling apart, changing systems twice right at the start of the system, poor depth, terrible coaching, expectations, father time, and just poor luck (the Lakers are still outscoring their opponents this season and would be expected to be a few games over .500 given this differential) all shoulder some of the blame.

          Beyond this, I am always upset when someone attributes the lions share of a team’s record to one player just on principle, because that’s not how a team game works. When you post 17-24, the easy retort is that Kobe has 5 rings. If you truly believe that you can judge a player by team results, your argument has unwittingly actually made Kobe look a lot better career wise than I expect you wanted.

          Posted by lochpster | January 23, 2013, 10:32 am
          • I understand your position … perhaps I allowed momentum and rhetorical flourish to get the best of me. I persist, though, in believing that he who is afforded disproportionate credit for team successes must accept similarly disproportionate blame for its unmitigated failures.

            Posted by Ken | January 23, 2013, 10:48 am
          • Nobody’s forcing anyone to appropriate credit or blame unfairly. Sure, other people do, but that doesn’t mean we have to.

            I agree with your general disgust with Kobe nation and your general idea that Kobe is overrated. There are those who post on here regularly who champion Kobe’s cause well past the point of absurdity. But nobody takes them seriously. And when you swing too far the other way, nobody will take you seriously either.

            Posted by lochpster | January 23, 2013, 12:32 pm
          • point well taken …

            Posted by Ken | January 23, 2013, 1:26 pm
          • “that he who is afforded disproportionate credit for team successes must accept similarly disproportionate blame for its unmitigated failures.”

            I actually agree with this one. The blame should fall a lot on Kobe. He’s gotten older, but he hasn’t altered his play (which was effective before).

            BUT Ken is trying to somehow use this season as a measuring stick for Kobe’s previous seasons, which defies logic. It may prove some of the mental issues that critics have accused Kobe of, but it certainly does not reflect whether or not he was effective in his teams’ most successful seasons.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 23, 2013, 1:58 pm
          • My 2013 address to Gil:

            Gil, I’m not somehow using this season as a measuring stick for Kobe’s previous seasons. I stated that this season UNDERSCORES my overarching point that Kobe is overrated generally and not as successful in hammering out an all-time great legacy as his peers in the Top 10 – Top 20 have been … go back and read the last paragraph of my post at 9:01 am yesterday.

            Once more and considering all data points, Kobe is a Top 15 player in my view (10 to 15 range, and very unlikely to crack th Top 10) … he’s just not worthy of the hero worship he gets from many of his fervent acolytes.

            Also, I looked at Michael Jordan’s two seasons with Washington as a 38 / 39 year old for some additional perspective … with an absolutely horrendous supporting cast (go look it up … we’re talking every bit as bad or worse as anything Kobe or LeBron have ever played with) his teams had a composite 67 – 75 record when Jordan played (47% win %age) … compare that wizardry (pun intended) to the 2012/13 Lakers and a 34 year old Kobe’s results … these are the kinds of data points that add further detail to a view of Kobe’s performance over 17 seasons (many ups and downs); they don’t distill everything into a crude conclusion based on the one data point. Kobe wasn’t Top 10 for me, much less Top 5, before this debacle of a season began; a fact your are all too aware of.

            Hope that helps …

            Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 9:35 am
          • 39 / 40 year old Jordan to be exact. And during his first year with the Wizards he played some games heavily injured.

            Posted by doosiolek | January 24, 2013, 9:50 am
          • Because he is bad this season does not reflect on him generally.

            Additionally, his performance from this point on in his career (and from any point forward from his career), whether positive or negative, says very little about his impact in prior seasons.

            This season does not somehow tear down all of his accomplishments, or any prior arguments about Kobe, or show that he is “overrated”.

            But hey, we can agree to disagree. I just find this thinking quite irrational, but you have free will to think as you please.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 24, 2013, 10:06 am
          • You’re correct … MJ’s February birthday meant he retired at 40 … my bad on the math. Agreed also re: the injuries; he sat many games due to injury that first year, but he also persevered through many while injured …

            Chris Whitney? Tyronn Lue? Jahidi White? Courtney Alexander? Tyrone Nesby? Anthony Goldwire?

            Unbelievable … compared to these misfits, Smush Parker looks like Jerry West, Luke Walton looks like Larry Bird, and Kwame Brown looks like Wilt Chamberlain (mostly joking, of course) …

            Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 10:08 am
  30. *him, not me. But I also had a very good varsity game career :;)

    Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 4:03 pm
  31. purely subjective exercises (like assessing where one professional basketball player ranks in comparison to all others) involves the consideration of a variety of factors across dimension (e.g., statistical records, individual accomplishments, team accomplishments, etc.) and time (e.g., body of work)) … if it’s irrational to consider Kobe’s performance this year or going forward in arriving at (or in my case, contributing toward the validating of a well-documented, existing preliminary assessment) a reasoned assessment, then so be it …

    Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 10:18 am
  32. bottom line (for me): longitudinal results are what matter, not some random 81 point high water mark (that I have already criticized for a multitude of reasons) that seal the deal for some people …

    otherwise, his various failures (many of pretty enormous magnitude … including individual games and even seasons) would mean that there would be no way that I could ever consider having Kobe in my Top 15 players of all time …

    as it is, I have Kobe in my Top 15, which feels right based on all of the good AND all of the bad that he has spawned over his career …

    Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 10:25 am
  33. AS to subjectivity and Kobe’s impact on prior seasons.

    Which of the following players would you replace the 21 year old Bryant with on those Shaq filled Lakers squads of 1999-2004 that would yield more than the three championships?

    Using the players at the same or comparable ages, please

    Larry Bird?
    Magic Johnson?
    Jerry West?
    Oscar Robertson?
    John Havlicek?
    LeBron James?
    Dwayne Wade?
    Michael Jordan?
    Kevin Durant?

    Those are the players(not counting post players) that I have as better than Kobe or likely to come very close or surpass him. (exception of Wade, who at peak value is a little better, but Kobe has much greater career value)

    I suppose one could also include Nowitski, Walt Frazier, Rick Barry and Julius Erving, as well.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 24, 2013, 10:33 am
    • paulie, if this question is directed at me …

      my response is that I think every single one of those named (and probably many others, including not less than 3 to 5 other shooting guards playing in the 2000 – 2002 timeframe) would have LIKELY won at least three rings riding shotgun with Shaq (I’m assuming they would be playing with Shaq in their early 20’s, as Kobe did when he was part of the threepeat) … Shaq was that dominant, and the flip side of Kobe’s contributions in previous rounds of the playoffs before Shaq “took over” in the Finals (the main argument used by Kobe supporters to make a case that only Kobe would have won in those situations) is my view that Kobe was also often personally responsible for the “on the brink” circumstances of being eliminated by the Portland and Sacramento and San Antonio teams during that period … maybe hypothetical proxies like Reggie Miller, AI, McGrady, Vince Carter or Grant Hill wouldn’t have the ball-dominant lows that we saw from Kobe during those runs either?

      In Wade’s case, that fact doesn’t mean I view him as an equal to or greater player than Kobe, because I don’t …

      Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 10:44 am
    • Not to beat a dead horse, but does anyone actually believe that prime Shaq and early 20s LeBron, just as one example, wouldn’t fivepeat (5x!) with Shaq from 2000 to 2004?

      Shaq and LeBron can’t get past San Antonio in 2003? They can’t overcome Detroit in 2004? How about the trinity of road kill in the 2000 to 2002 Finals?

      I mean, really … denying the above is absurd.

      Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 12:42 pm
  34. And that assumes that the Lakers would be matched against the exact opponents in history.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 24, 2013, 10:34 am
  35. Shaq and Zeke don’t beat the Pacers, Sixers and Nets? Shaq and Barkley don’t?
    Shaq and Pippen don’t?
    Shaq and Dr. J don’t?
    Shaq and McHale don’t?
    Shaq and even Eddie Jones don’t?

    Take it a step further and look at it this way … if you exchanged Kobe for the shooting guard on those opposing teams, you don’t think the Lakers still win?

    Shaq and Reggie Miller vs. Kobe and Smits
    Shaq and AI vs. Kobe and Dikembe
    Shaq and Kittles vs. Kobe and MacCullough

    Remember, we’re talking near sweeps all three years …

    Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 10:53 am
    • Try this exercise with the Western Conference Finals matchups for the Lakers those years and you may see some different results. On the other hand you may not. But using the Pacers is not a good example. Most of the hardest fought series for the Lakers were the Conference Finals games.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 24, 2013, 11:38 am
      • hardest fought?

        In 2000, the Lakers beat Portland in the WCF 4 – 3 … Shaq was the best player on either team by a lot (even with a subdued series by his standards, he took Sabonis to the wood shed) and I would gladly have exchanged Erratic Kobe for steady Steve Smith or poised Pippen in that series with complete confidence that the Lakers would have moved on to crush the Pacers in the Finals …

        In 2001, the Lakers swept the Spurs 4 – 0 in the WCF with an average margin of victory of 22 points … Sixes would have been DOA with any shooting guard that year …

        In 2002, the Lakers beat Sacramento 4 – 3 in the WCF … once more, Shaq was the best player on either team … not only overall in the series, but pay attention to Games 6 and 7, which were both must-wins for the Lakers … Shaq’s basic and advanced stats in those games make plain who put the team over the top …

        Not sure if you read my pre-emptive commentary on this issue (post @ 10:44 am), but Kobe and his often negative ball-dominant play had the most reason to do with those three series being more competitive than they should he been …

        Posted by Ken | January 24, 2013, 12:09 pm
        • Yes, yes, that’s the funniest thing, is that Kobe’s teams would have been so much better without him, he dragged them down to only a three-peat, and another back-to-back run. Otherwise, those teams would have won 10 in a row and never lost a game. Interesting argument. It’s possible, but oh so unlikely that somehow they could have been so much better, yet were already the best.

          Posted by Gil Meriken | January 24, 2013, 2:20 pm
          • Well, for the first two titles it’s rather easy to make the argument that guys like Carter or McGrady could have filled out the Kobe-role, as he hadn’t separated himself from those guys at that point. I nonetheless find Ken’s arguments rather tiring, so I’m with you on this.

            Posted by Chris | January 24, 2013, 4:02 pm
          • Once one cuts through your praise of Kobe veiled as “fair and balanced” criticism, it seems rather clear that you are another in a long line of Kobe apologists; natch, of course you find arguments that undermine your views “rather tiring” …

            In general, I have unswervingly argued exactly three main points in the dozens (maybe into 100+ territory) of posts that I have made here in the past year.

            1. I have argued that the career arc of Michael Jordan overwhelmingly dwarfs Kobe’s;

            2. I have argued that the career arc of LeBron James career is on track to overwhelmingly dwarf Kobe’s;

            3. And I have argued at length that Kobe apologists and mythologists fail to contemplate the sheer magnitude and diversity of instances where Kobe has been an utter failure in his career.

            I am supremely confident that my position on these subjects is the correct one in each case. And that’s based on facts, not:

            (a) imaginary metrics (spatial or otherwise) that don’t actually exist (and where they appear to be emerging, ACTUALLY DON’T support any positive argument vis-a-vis Kobe’s play) but nebulously promise to prove how great Kobe has REALLY been as a player (e.g., spatial and visual analytics will prove that a missed Kobe FGA is actually better than one from Player B! I swear!);

            (b) revisionist drivel that is completely incompatible with the facts (e.g., Kobe was the best player during the 2001 playoffs);

            (c) apologetic horsepucky that makes one-off exceptions when they only serve to “try to” excuse Kobe’s performance (e.g., he shouldn’t have his first two seasons considered in the final analysis of his standing amongst the all time greats because he wasn’t physically ready to play more minutes or longer stretches).


            (d) outrageous claims that are almost not even worth taking the time to respond to (e.g., that a pattern of being blown out [28 points vs. San Antonio in 2003; 31 points vs. Phoenix in 2005; 39 points vs. Boston in 2008; and 36 points vs. Dallas in 2011] in closeout playoff games means nothing) …

            Look, you and I can obviously feel however we want about these and other players. But let’s not pretend that we’re obliged to or forced to suffer throught the other’s views. You’re free to ignore my posts, the same as I’ll probably ignore or look upon yours with great skepticism going forward, too.

            Also (and for the road), it seems that you are not too fond of Shaq (the only reason Kobe has all five his rings … no Shaq, no threepeat and no trade assets (Lamar, Caron [led to Kwame, which led to Pau], lottery in 2004 led to Bynum) needed to win in 2009 and 2010), which coincidentally jives nicely with the Kobe jocking:

            And I quote:

            Since his last and hopefully ultimate retirement. I guess you can argue that Shaq’s peak was more dominant, but Kobe had more quality years.

            Posted by Chris | January 22, 2013, 5:00 pm

            Be nicer to Shaq; without him, your hero is just another AI.

            Posted by Ken | January 25, 2013, 9:27 am
          • You’re making me laugh a lot, so kudos for that atleast. I guess there is always a first time being called a Kobe apologist.

            Concerning your three points: I agree with point 1 and 2. I disagree with 3, because I have no idea how you can call his career a failure.

            There are advanced +/- metrics that like Kobe a lot. They generally rate him as a minus defender for the last 5 years or so and as one of the top 3 offensive players over the same timeframe, which I find to be rather fitting. So they aren’t imaginary. There are +/- metrics that make Kobe look like a role-player. My point: One can always find information that fits the agenda.

            The Kobe-assist peace was very weak from a scientific perspective but I wouldn’t totally disregard the idea behind it. My personal opinion: Kobe has played with a lot of big players that play lots of minutes, are good rebounders, while the Lakers made it their dogma to go after offensive rebounds. If you miss a lot of shots, the result will be lots of Kobe-assists. He does draw attention, but so did Derrick Rose in Chicago. In games he missed last year, the Bulls actually had about the same OReb%.

            Kobe was the best player in 2001 during the playoffs. Shaq dominated the finals but it was Kobe who got them there. I also said, that Kobe was a disaster in 2000 and had a horrible performance in the 2004 finals.

            You shouldn’t count those 2 season against him, the same way you shouldn’t count them as a big achievement. Highschool guys have artificially higher stat totals, leading to breaking records of guys that got in the league between ages 21 and 23. If the Lakers had won in Kobe’s first two seasons, people would add those to his current ones as if he was the man, but I wouldn’t let them have it. Here it’s the same the other way around. He could have gone to college for a year or two, than he would have 2 final mvps in 14 years and so on, but that information is as worthless as your take on it.

            I still don’t knwo what your problem with blowouts is. Maybe he failed as a leader, because he couldn’t motivate them anymore – we don’t know that – but it’s not like he gave up himself.

            I really like Shaq. I didn’t like him in his pre-Laker days, because he frustrated me. I already wrote a correction about that, something you seem to have missed.

            My overall stance on Kobe, compared to you, really only differs in the way we gauge his shooting: You seem to be off the opinion that shooting sub 47% or so hurts the team more than it helps – especially if you shoot a lot – and I would say that there are nuances that can’t be captured with traditional box score metrics that relativize that assessment.
            While yor are openly hostile to Kobe, I’m trying to be fair toward the career of a guy whose playing style and personality I don’t like.
            You probably won’t believe me, but that’s how I feel.

            Posted by Chris | January 25, 2013, 10:55 am
          • Somehow my statement re: “utter failures” was misunderstood … I’ll take another stab to clear up the misunderstanding.

            1. I don’t think Kobe’s career is a total failure or even comprised of more low points than high points … I have him on my list as a Top 15 player!

            Let that sink in … I’m not saying he’s all bad (worst plaayer ever!) or even mostly bad (bad player!), just that where he’s been bad is more extensive (and has been pretty awful) considering the accomplishments of the all time peer group he swims with these days …

            2. I have generally agreed with about 2/3 of your statements over the past few days (though I questioned the veiled intent in making them … perhaps my bad) … but I think you are very totally offbase with the “blowouts in critical must-win games don’t really matter much” angle … by extension of that logic, Kobe’s “clutch” mythology should be completely 100% meaningless, too. And even I don’t believe that …

            3. I don’t know Kobe personally and, thus, I cannot personally summon the energy to actually dislike him. I also don’t care AT ALL about any off the court nonsense that seems to shade his role in history by some. In my book, he has been a fantastic basketball player for many years, just not at the Top 10 or Top 5 level often afforded him by his ardent supporters …

            4. Finally, my lasting estimation of Kobe is that he has been a wonderfully skilled player – one of the best ever – who has ever played the game. He has also been incredibly lucky to have had unusually abundant surrounding talent that enabled him to enjoy team successes that those with his mentality seldom ever see … but he has also been at the center of many dismally low points (again, not all low points) that other greats manages to navigate around (e.g., MJ and LBJ never lost closeout playoff games by more than 20 points) …

            Posted by Ken | January 25, 2013, 11:20 am
          • 1. I mostly agree. I think you are unaware of some of the failures of other great players, maybe because you haven’t thought about them as much.

            2. Clutch doesn’t exist. In a large sample size players with a lot of stamina, skill, athleticism, knowledge of the game and experience succeed much more likely in endgame situations, where defenses knwo your sets and players are highly concentrated, than those who don’t fit those criterias.
            And I already said, that he maybe failed as a leader. My question after all this back and forth would be, do you take away credit from Durant, because the Thunder got blown out in the finals?

            3. Well, I really don’t like him, or atleast the role he plays in public.

            4. Agree. LeBron has had one really bad game against Boston in 2010 and one really bad series against the Mavs. His overall resume is less stained so to speak. That’s even more true for Jordan obviously.

            Posted by Chris | January 25, 2013, 11:36 am
          • The follow-ups are getting smaller (progress) …

            1. I don’t think any of the 10+ players I have ranked ahead of Kobe on my list individually have experienced the frequency or depth of situational failure as he has … of course each of them had setbacks of some kind over the course of their respective careers; the distinction is that the quality and quantity of their “negatives” are much lower than Kobe’s (as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve been avidely following the NBA for nearly 40 years) …

            2. I don’t consider the Thunder losing by 15 in Game 5 last year to be similar to four 28+ points blowouts in Kobe’s career … there is (or should be, at least) something insidiously concerning for the Lakers franchise about that very unusual record … if the Lakers are lucky enough to make the playoffs this year, put me down for $1,000 on the final margin of loss in their closeout game being in excess of 25 points …

            You don’t need to respond; have a great weekend …

            Posted by Ken | January 25, 2013, 11:49 am
          • Quick edit / addenda:

            The primary difference between the Thunder’s 15 point closeout loss to the Heat last year and the four 28+ point closeout losses in the playoffs during Kobe’s career is this:

            The Thunder outscored the Heat by 9 points in the 4Q of that game;

            Conversely, in every one of the four 28+ point blowouts that the Lakers have suffered through since 2003, the opposing team outscored the Lakers in the 4Q in each instance, and blew their doors off with 10+ point 4Q margins in 3 of the 4 games …

            Posted by Ken | January 25, 2013, 11:56 am
          • When we talk about those 3 Western Conference championships, should we bring up the point that definitely one, and possibly two, of these was handed to the Lakers by crooked refs? Or is that off limits? Not saying the Lakers cheated, but the refs definitely cheated on their behalf.

            As for clutchness, there’s no question some players and/or teams play better or worse in the closing minutes of a game. The 2001 Mavericks-extremely clutch. The Kobe era Lakers-extremely unclench, actually. The predictive value of clutch play, though, is less important than the play during any other part of a game. Hence how the Lakers won 5 titles despite being one of the least clutch teams of the last 15 years. Give me a first or third quarter superstar over a great “closer” any day.

            As to Ken’s points about Kobe’s “failures,” since KB became a starter, the Lakers have lost numerous series when they were favored. When they go down, they go down hard-by an average of 23 points per game, and 7 of 8 by double digits. They have noticeably lost their composure during some of these blowouts as well. The only other all-time great with a similar number of embarrassing underachievement’s on his resume is Wilt. I do think this matters.

            Posted by lochpster | January 25, 2013, 6:33 pm
          • Also, I really like this.

            “While yor are openly hostile to Kobe, I’m trying to be fair toward the career of a guy whose playing style and personality I don’t like.”

            Enjoy the thoughtful posts, keep up the good work :)

            Posted by lochpster | January 25, 2013, 6:34 pm
          • I’m no big fan of these crooked ref theories, but that Sacramento situation was either utter incompetence or staged. No matter what, the Lakers should have gone down.

            Interestingly enough, LeBron James teams have almost always been extremely “clutch”, but we know the narrative was a little different. I personally have never looked at Kobe as someone that’s “clutch” but rather as someone that gives me the best chance to make a ridiculous shot that should have no business whatsoever going in. That’s not clutch, but more often self-inflicted insanity; but it seems that exactly that is clutch for many people.

            Magic, Bird, Olajuwon and Wilt all had multiple flameouts/failures/really bad individual performances.
            We can definitely argue about the degree of failure in many cases, but the same is also true for the degree of success.
            My personal problem probably lies in the fact, that I like to focus on the success stories, while other take an approach like Ken, where it comes down to how many “chances” you used and how many you squandered. I know people that really like Hakeem for example, because they think he only had two chances and he capitalized. I don’t like this approach, because most of the times, the validity of the chance is judged by the eventual outcome that is already known to us today. If the Cavs had lost against the Pistons in 07 people would say that they haven’t had a chance to begin with. Ken and I said, that they had no chance to beat the Spurs to begin with. Those aren’t success stories, but either cash ins or predictable failures.

            In that light, I would challenge anyone to come up with situations were great players clearly outperformed expectations, overcoming great odds. It’s something more positive and I like to think discussions become even better in a friendly climate.

            Posted by Chris | January 25, 2013, 9:49 pm
          • I think that Jordan returning to three straight titles AFTER being RETIRED for a season and a half is pretty friggin’ amazing!!

            No where in the annals of sport can I think of a congruent occurrence; that being an elite player retiring and then returning to reclaim the championship.

            the only one that evens comes to mind is Muhammad Ali, though he wasn’t retired, it had the same effect.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 25, 2013, 10:00 pm
          • Good thought, Chris. The list is long for this one too.

            Dirk’s Mavs overcoming the heavy favorite Heat. Pistons over Lakers in 1988 and Chauncey Billups wrecking the Lakers in ’04. Moses taking the Rockets to the Finals in ’81. Hakeem’s Rockets winning the 1995 title. Magic starting at center for the Lakers in 1980. Wilt’s 76ers knocking off the Celtics in 1968 after Boston won 8 straight, the Russell’s Celtics beating Wilt’s Lakers the following year. Walton’s Blazers over 76ers in 1977. The Flu Game. Lebron James in game 5 vs Detroit. Walt Frazier eviscerating the Lakers in game 7, 1970. The Jordan disguised as god game and West’s Finals MVP in a losing effort.

            Posted by lochpster | January 25, 2013, 10:21 pm
          • I loved that game #6 performance by Magic in the 1980 Finals.

            It was made even sweeter as I had to watch it on tape delay AFTER the CBS Friday night late “movie”.

            NBA action. . . Satisfaction.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 26, 2013, 7:23 am
          • @lochpster

            “the Lakers have lost numerous series when they were favored.”

            Yes, let’s talk about this.

            Which series are we talking about? I’m speaking going INTO the series where a Laker team with Kobe has been favored and lost.

            I count: 2004 Finals against Detroit, and the 2011 2nd Round vs Mavs. The Lakers were not favored in 2008 against the Celtics (looking at a compilation of odds at Sportsbooks in Vegas). Did I miss any? They weren’t favored against the Jazz or Spurs who eliminated them from 97-99.

            Now everything is relative, so think about how many times a Lebron team was favored going into a series and lost.

            2009 vs Magic, 2010 vs Celtics, 2011 vs Mavs

            For all the talk of how the Cavs teams were, LBJ’s teams were still favored, and the Heat were a heavy favorite against Dallas, and fell without any significant injuries.

            Tim Duncan – how many series has he his team been favored? I won’t go through the whole exercise, but obviously losing in the first round is a mark on his resume, no matter his age, since the Spurs were favorites against a dangerous Memphis.

            These should count too in your estimation of a player, since they were expected to be able to beat the other team – presumably the star had “enough” support that the odds were in their favor.

            Anyway, this ignores the margin of loss, which you’ve covered.

            On the flip side, it should count for something when you win against the odds too, as Lebron did in making it to the 2007 Final.

            I agree with you in considering when a superstar’s team has failed when it was not expected to. I consider these types of failures with more weight than I would some individual box stats.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 27, 2013, 10:27 am
          • Oh and obviously, this season, if it end as most expect it to, should count as a big mark against Kobe, as the Lakers were expected to make the Finals, or at least the Western Conference Finals.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 27, 2013, 10:34 am
          • Looks like I was wrong. Fair enough.

            Posted by lochpster | January 27, 2013, 10:53 am
          • First of all, “favored” is a pretty subjective concept to pin anything on … I guess you could use playoff seedlings, but even that fails to account for momentum, injuries, etc. Also, counting the Cavs failure to beat Boston in 2010 as equivalent to the 2011 two-time defending champion Lakers four game sweep vs. Dallas seems patently illogical … once is worse than the other.

            That said, failing to make the playoffs in 2005 should be a similar “failing” mark for Kobe … in the previous five seasons, the Lakers had reached the Finals four times (winning 3 rings) and the WCF once …

            Posted by Ken | January 27, 2013, 4:02 pm
          • It’s difficult to go all the way back to 2004-05 to find the preseason odds for wins, but a quick google search show that more than a few pundits expected the Lakers to miss the playoffs, or have a very low seed.

            This method (actual vs expected performance) doesn’t help all that much to compare players head-to-head, but it should help to understand where superstar players “failed”, and how often.

            Posted by Gil Meriken | January 27, 2013, 10:48 pm
          • The trouble that I could see form using an “expected” performance or outcome is that in a micro sample instances of bad calls, turnovers or simple bad luck, like a Horry’s three in game $4 vs. Sacramento in 2002?) can lead one to the wrong path.

            I do think that expectations are relevant when applied in a macro analysis.

            This is why I believe that box score data can be both misleading (for a single game or even an 82 game schedule) and illumanitive (for the course of 40,000 minutes)

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 27, 2013, 11:07 pm
    • 1999-00 Shaq and Pippen vs Kobe and the Blazers
      2000-01 Shaq and Terry Porter?(Derek Anderson was injured for this series) vs Kobe and Duncan
      2001-02 Shaq and Doug Christie vs Kobe and Webber

      Even 2003-04 Shaq and Sprewell vs Kobe and KG

      I’m not sold on the Lakers on any of those … maybe the earliest one, but even then that’s an old Pippen … I’m sure your opinion differs …

      Posted by Gil Meriken | January 24, 2013, 11:46 am

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