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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lakers Limp Toward the Finish Line

The Lakers' season started out like a soap opera, looked like it might have a storybook ending after the acquisition of Pau Gasol and is now looking like a soap opera again: call it "As the Injured List Turns." Gasol and Andrew Bynum are both out of the lineup due to leg injuries, Lamar Odom is battling a respiratory infection and Kobe Bryant has a sprained ankle in addition to a torn ligament/broken bone in his right pinkie finger, an injury that will eventually need to be surgically repaired.

Now Derek Fisher can be added to the list of the walking wounded. I mentioned recently that Fisher seems to be breaking down physically; his shooting percentage has declined from its early season levels and he is having trouble on defense. It turns out that he has a partially torn tendon in his right foot. Although the tear apparently happened during Wednesday's loss to Charlotte, Fisher said that the foot has been sore for a couple weeks: "There was definitely something going on that just kind of flew under the radar that ultimately led to the tendon kind of popping a little bit." This injury typically takes six to eight weeks of rest to heal but Fisher plans to try to keep playing, following the example set by Bryant, who has played very well--and without either complaint or excuses--since mangling his finger.

In addition to the team's offensive woes, preventing dribble penetration has become a serious issue for the Lakers' point guards. As a frustrated Bryant said after the game, "Staying in front of the ball has been a big problem for us. If we can't solve that problem, then we'll just have to continue to get penetrated on until we get the big guys back and then they can bail us out by blocking shots to the basket."

Odom and Fisher combined to shoot 3-14 from the field in the Lakers' 114-111 home loss to Memphis on Friday, while Vladimir Radmanovic (nine points on 3-8 shooting) and Ronny Turiaf (six points on 3-10 shooting) also struggled; those four starters scored 21 points on 9-32 field goal shooting but Bryant singlehandedly kept the Lakers in the game by pouring in a season-high 53 points on just 37 field goal attempts, including 9-17 accuracy from three point range. He also had 10 rebounds, three steals and just one turnover. Critics will no doubt mention that Bryant only had one assist but you cannot get assists if your teammates are missing shots (Odom had 11 assists but six of them came from passing to Bryant). Bryant played just under 42 minutes and had a +1 plus/minus rating; that means that in the roughly six minutes Bryant was not in the game the Lakers were outscored by four points.

The Lakers trailed by two points with less than 30 seconds remaining when Bryant drove to the hoop and the entire Memphis team collapsed into the paint to stop him; check out the highlight of this play if you get a chance: it looks like an elementary school soccer game when all of the players converge in a blob around the ball. Bryant dished to Odom, who bricked a three pointer from the right baseline. There are only three reasons that a player would ever be quintuple-teamed:

1) That player is playing really, really well.
2) His teammates are playing really, really poorly.
3) The defensive team is not that good and several players abandoned their assignments to trap the ballhandler.

Check, check and check in this case: Bryant is the best player in the NBA, his teammates could not throw the ball in the ocean from the pier even when he created wide open shots for them and the Grizzlies are not a good defensive team.

The game ended with Luke Walton committing a turnover on an inbounds pass instead of calling a timeout. That script--Bryant having a positive plus/minus rating, the Lakers blowing a lead when he is on the bench, Odom bricking a three pointer late in the game and Walton making a poor inbounds pass--contains many elements that are disturbingly familiar to Lakers' fans: in the Lakers' 94-90 loss in Cleveland this season Odom missed a late three pointer from exactly the same spot after Bryant drew a double-team and passed him the ball. Bryant had a plus/minus rating of +8 that night despite being hobbled by a pulled groin muscle. This is also not the first time that Walton made a poor inbounds pass instead of calling a timeout. Walton is an unselfish player who is a skilled passer in the Triangle Offense but I wonder if anyone has tracked his performance as an inbounds passer; he does not seem to have a good sense of when/where to throw the ball and when to call a timeout because the play is not working as designed.

The Lakers are not a great team and I am mystified why so many so many people think so highly of the Lakers' roster. Granted, if Gasol and Bynum were on the court together with Bryant--which has yet to happen once--then the Lakers would have a nice team but right now that is a purely theoretical concept; the reason that the Lakers have been competing for the top record in the West this season is that Bryant is the best player in the league and he needs less help than any other superstar to turn a team into a contender. It's so funny: twice this season the Lakers added one player who can consistently catch Bryant's passes and score--Bynum before he got hurt, then Gasol via trade--and the Lakers zoomed to the top of the standings because teams could no longer double, triple, quadruple or quintuple-team Bryant. That does not mean that the Lakers are a great team; it just means that they have a few guys who sometimes make open shots if the defense has to deal with both Bryant and Gasol (or Bynum). If Bryant had missed as many games as Gasol and Bynum have then the Lakers would not even be a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Instead, Bryant has carried them to the point that all they need now to get the top seed are for him to produce a few more 40 point games, a few bench players to make some open shots and/or the healthy return of at least one of the big guys; the Lakers are one game behind both San Antonio and New Orleans but they have home games remaining versus both teams.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:06 PM

15 comments

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15 Comments:

At Saturday, March 29, 2008 8:56:00 PM, Blogger vednam said...

As I mentioned before, I just don't think the Lakers are good enough defensivley to win it all this year. I also think their role players and bench have been overrated by some observers. All that most of them have had to do is shoot wide-open jumpers. Farmar, Vujacic, Radmanovic, etc. can't create their own shots or play defense. Because the Lakers' role players have stepped up this year and been able to do what you'd expect of an NBA player (make open shots), lots of people have gotten carried away and begun acting like the Lakers are a stacked team. They may very well be stacked if Bynum and Gasol and Ariza were healthy and productive, but that hasn't been the case.

On another note, have you checked out cnnsi.com lately? They have a huge archive of old SI articles up. There appear to be lots of articles missing (and I don't know if they are in the process of adding more or what), but there's lots of interesting stuff there. It's nice to be able to read about historical sports events right after they happened as opposed to later, often biased accounts which have come to form the mainstream view these days of many old games and series.

 
At Sunday, March 30, 2008 3:40:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

The Lakers' roster is very overrated this year. What I have not yet figured out is if people are simply making an honest mistake in this regard or if this stems from not wanting to give Kobe credit for the Lakers' success and/or setting up a scenario in which Kobe can be blamed for the team's "failure" to live up to the billing that it is getting as a West favorite. I never thought that the Lakers should be the favorite in the West or that they had the best team; after they got Gasol I thought that they at least had a puncher's chance against anybody thanks to how great Kobe is. Basically, if you give Kobe one one-time All-Star and some guys who will scrap, hustle and make open jumpers then his team becomes a serious threat, even though the top teams are deeper, more talented and have more collective playoff experience. I'm thinking specifically of San Antonio, Phoenix and Utah; New Orleans is also very talented but the Hornets do not have much collective playoff experience.

I have not visited CNNSI but I have seen something called the SI Vault. Is that what you are talking about? The SI Vault has every article and every cover that SI has ever published and it is indeed interesting to see how certain events were viewed (by at least one writer) at the time that they happened.

 
At Sunday, March 30, 2008 3:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie'

if bynum and gasol play they would be title contenders without them there another 500 team like they always have been kobe good actually great but his supporting cast is not bad at all they are talented new orleans has a weak supporting cast with pual no one thought they would be anywhere near this good and all of a sudden there role players and former first round busts are all time greats it's a joke kobe has more than pual if the lakers are healthy you give jordan two legit bigs he wins 75 games not the 72 he did win kobe needs a dominant big to win.

 
At Sunday, March 30, 2008 8:03:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Last I checked, MJ is not active this year and since I have not compared him to Kobe, Paul or anyone else why do you keep bringing him up in the context of this year's playoff race? I guess the reason is you are a Kobe hater who has to find some way to "attack" Kobe to elevate your guy LeBron. The funny thing is that I actually rate LeBron higher than most analysts, who have dropped him to third behind Paul because NO has a better record than Cleveland.

Gasol has played 19 games. Bynum has played 35 games. The Lakers are still within striking distance of the top record in the West. The Lakers have no current All-Stars other than Kobe and even Gasol has only made the All-Star team once. The other top contenders are healthier and have more All-Stars/All-NBA/All-Defensive Team players. What part of this paragraph do you not understand?

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 8:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

you attack kobe supporting cast and overate everyone else to elevate kobe im not elevating lebron he is the best player theres no where to elevate david im not downing kobe he iis the second best player right there with lebron since i tell the truth on kobe supporting cast im a kobe hater thats fine if you wanna play that game then manu is one time all star so is parker, david west one time all star he has no one else near meaning chris paul that is a all star in 2008 i know peja was all star in 2003 but were in 2008 so that is irrelevant. he is 2 thirds the player he was in sac and odom is definite better all around player than him in 2008.

reality is in the west if you dont have a really good team thers no way you can be championship contenders so clearly the lakers have some talent. most of the players you talk about is what they were in the past finley peja bowen not who they are today if you look at who they are today then kobe supporting cast is very favorable if gasol and odom put up they regular numbers and are healthy. reality is 9-9 with kobe and players with kobe gasol 16-3 with kobe and bynum 25-11 when they both get in there with kobe then there formidable.

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 10:50:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

First things first: your numbers are not correct:

The Lakers are 11-9 with Kobe and without either Bynum or Gasol; that includes a 6-5 segment after Bynum got hurt but before they acquired Gasol and their current 5-4 run with Gasol out and Bynum not back. They are 24-11 with Bynum (Bynum missed one game before he suffered the injury that basically wiped out his season). They are 15-4 with Gasol.

Second and more importantly, you still have not explained what you don't understand about the fact that Kobe's top two big men have missed the majority of the season and have never been on the court together as teammates. For the sake of this discussion, let's say that Gasol+Bynum=West+Chandler. Wouldn't you rather have a healthy West+Chandler as opposed to an injured Gasol+Bynum? The Lakers have spent a fourth of this season with Turiaf+Mbenga at center and they still posted an above .500 record--and their schedule in those 20 games was loaded heavily toward road games against good teams, another factor that you completely ignore.

What would Paul and NO do if their top big men were hurt? We already know the answer--just look at last season's results: no playoff berth. Kobe had a weaker team last season than this season plus the Lakers suffered injuries to several key rotation players and the team still made it to the playoffs.

West is a young player who is still developing and he is already as good as Gasol, who has peaked as a player. Chandler is at least as good as Bynum.

After the playoffs we can revisit the question of how good the Lakers' other players are relative to Manu, Parker and the others. Have you not watched the playoffs for the past several years? Walton stole the ball from Nash once. I'm struggling to remember anything that the other Lakers' supporting cast members--not including Fisher, of course--did well in the playoffs.

 
At Monday, March 31, 2008 11:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

west is not as good as gasol no way gasol has better low post moves carried a team to 50 wins made a all star team without kobe, when west has done nuthing without paul and most of his sucess is because of paul paul gets doubled and tripled and passes out to west and he shoots a wide open shot i got league pass i see every game bynum missed so many games and in the 36 games he played he definetely is better than tyson chandler who can only catch lob passes bynum has a back to the basket game that wouldve improved if he didnt get hurt and his peak will be way better than chandler who can only catch lobs has no offensive game at all no doubt he is better than chandler. your the only person who will say that west is as good as gasol or chandler is as good as bynum because you a kobe fan no real person who watches the game will even compare the two bynum and gasol is better than west chandler healthy. and the lakers were 27-14 when healthy they went 15-26 when they were loseing when they werent healthy, and if the hornets dont have paul they would be alot worse than if they dont have west and chandler take him off the team they win 25 games maybe they seattle and minnesota all of a sudden.


you got beat on the argument now mau and ginobilli are big in the playoffs i thought you was talking in general well see what the lakers do in the playoffs when they get they two bigs back with kobe. without duncan were not talking about manu and parker just like without kobe were not talking gasol and bynum well see in the playoffs how they do i think they could and will beat the spurs becasue the spurs is old and the lakers are young and deep team see how the spurs will deal with bynum and gasol down low and still deal with kobe on the premiter and you got odom who can get a triple double at the 4.

what does what paul did last season got to do with 2007-2008 he is mvp because he has more with less by alot and his team was not supposed to be good. kobe is mvp if his team finish ahead of paul team it's that simple.

 
At Tuesday, April 01, 2008 12:40:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

West played fewer than 1500 minutes prior to Paul joining the team so how do you know what West could do without Paul? I'm not disputing Paul's greatness--he is the best pg in the league now--but West's game is not wholly dependent on catching the ball from Paul.

I don't know which games you are watching, but teams tend to not double team guys like Paul and Nash precisely because they are pass-first point guards (though both can score, too, of course).

You spend a lot of time talking about what Bynum "would've done" and what the Lakers could do if everyone were healthy--but Bynum has not done any of those things yet. His back to the basket game is still a work in progress and he does not yet rebound or defend as well as Chandler does. What does Bynum's possible peek level have to do with this season? West and Chandler have been healthy all season, they have played side by side and therefore they have been a much more valuable duo to NO than Gasol-Bynum, who have never played together and who have missed a ton of games.

I love how you ask what last season has to do with this season when you are the one who keeps bringing up MJ and who keeps citing faulty numbers from previous seasons. I brought up one specific aspect of last season that refutes what you say about this season: you say that Paul is more valuable than Kobe because the Hornets are a half game or one game ahead in the standings. I say that Kobe can carry a team better than Paul--and the proof is how well the Lakers have done this season without their big men, how they did last year down the stretch and how poorly the Hornets did last year when dealing with their injuries. Kobe carried the Lakers into the playoffs last season with the highest post All-Star game scoring average since Wilt. There is no way that Paul can do something like that. The Lakers have had so much more turmoil this year than the Hornets--in terms of injuries and adjusting to trades--and they still are right there with them in the standings. That is a tribute to Kobe's greatness.

You say that Paul has done "more with less." Here are two questions for you. Please answer them before making any more comments that simply repeat the arguments that I have already refuted multiple times:

1) What do you suppose the Hornets' record would be this season if West had played in 19 games and Chandler and played in 35 and the remaining games featured Ronny Turiaf and D.J. Mbenga? (If you are not sure how to answer this, just look at last year's Hornets' record as a reference point. Why is this so hard for you to understand?)

2) One way to evaluate a team's supporting cast is to consider the players' proven ability to produce in the playoffs. After all, the point of the season is to win the championship and you have to be effective in the playoffs to do that. Other than Kobe and Derek Fisher, who on the Lakers has proven that he can be a productive player in the postseason? (Duncan, Parker, Manu have championship credentials; the Suns have Shaq plus players who have performed well in earlier playoff rounds; Dallas' core group made it to the 2006 Finals; Utah's core group made it to the 2007 Western Conf. Finals).

 
At Tuesday, April 01, 2008 9:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you think about the cause of the "limping"? I read an interesting article about a possible reason: http://theassociation.blogs.com/the_association/2008/03/the-lakers-have.html

 
At Tuesday, April 01, 2008 2:53:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

The post you linked to presents a very interesting take on the Lakers' injury situation, charging that for the past several years the Lakers' medical/training staffs have misdiagnosed and/or mistreated various players, ranging from Karl Malone to several of the current players. I'm not sure what to make of that charge. Certainly, each injury is different. Malone was an older player, so it is not shocking that he could develop a knee injury that essentially ended his career. However, the fact that so many Lakers seem to take longer than expected to recover from injuries is a bit odd. Mihm's ankle injury is pretty serious from what I understand and Bynum dislocated his kneecap so I'm not sure that poor treatment explains their extended absences. As for Gasol, he may not be the quickest healer in the NBA; he's been out of action for several games while Fisher is playing with a torn tendon in his foot and Kobe is playing with an assortment of injuries.

 
At Wednesday, April 02, 2008 1:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

your wrong agian kobe has had either bynum or gasol for 54 of the 74 games there 10-10 without them could paul go 10 and 10 without west and chandler i think he could especially how he is playing this season west missed 8 games they 6-2 maybe they would be 8-12 or so but he be around there.

paul missed 20 games west 30 and chandler 9 part of the reason they didnt win last year not just west and chandler. bynum was playing better than chandler his shotblocking was better and he played 7 less minutes than chandler and bynum was doing it not what he could of done his improvemnet was a big reason they were 25-11 and people feel he has to come back for them to win a ring.

could paul score 43ppg after all star break could kobe get 20 poinst 11 asists and 3 steals no point has done that ever and lead league in both assists and steal. matter of fact he is haveing the greatest statiscal season a point guard has ever had but that dont make him mvp he is mvp because he has carried his team to the number 1 spot in the westren conference and most didnt have them in the playoffs with west and chandler. the lakers were expected to make the 7th or 8th spot with kobe and odom and the same team as the last two years no one expected bynum to be good or them get gasol.

so mr friedman if west and chandler was so good why didnt you have them in the playoffs? you had the lakers without bynum basically and gasol ahead of them, which tells you how good paul is to carry a team who wasnt supposed to make the playoffs in the number 1 spot in the west 28 games over 500 the toughest year the west has ever been to make the playoffs? turiaf farmar and vuciacic are all improved bynum improved odom has his most consistent year with the lakers as well. west and chandler putting up the same numbers west the last 3 years since paul and chandler the last two, you knew they was going to be h this healthy year and you and the experts didnt pick them in the playoffs so dont make they healthy excuse it is paul improvement why they are this good.

you lost the argument becasue once bynum improved and they made the gasol trade they been at they best without bynum and gasol both they are a 500 team like they was expected. healthy the hornets werent expected to be this good so him haveing west and chandler is no real advantage, because even with them the lakers were expected to be better with all the turmoil kobe had at the begining of the season and everything else. if his supporting cast is so superior why didnt any one think so at the begining of the season.


the lakers havent played in the playoffs yet but i think whe they all do with the leadership of kobe and the health of bynum and gasol they will be very good team.

 
At Wednesday, April 02, 2008 6:26:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I can't help you if you steadfastly refuse to consult readily available boxscore data to determine which players played in which games. For the last time, the Lakers are currently 11-9 when Kobe has played without both Bynum and Gasol. They are 24-11 with Kobe and Bynum. This is not even worth further discussion: take my word for it or look up the boxscores on your own. Furthermore, the Lakers' schedule in the 20 games without their two big men was very tough, both in terms of road games versus home games and in terms of the quality of teams that they played. The last two losses were to bad teams of course but now the Lakers are not only dealing with Bynum and Gasol being out but Fisher has a torn tendon in his foot and Odom has some kind of virus/upper respiratory infection--not to mention that Kobe has been playing the second half of the season with a torn ligament that sheared away a piece of the bone in his pinkie.

For some odd reason you seem incapable of understanding or acknowledging that Paul has had the services of BOTH of his big men for the entire season, while Kobe has NEVER HAD BOTH OF HIS BEST BIG MEN ON THE COURT AT THE SAME TIME THIS SEASON. I really hate to shout but I also hate when people refuse to listen. The Lakers are one game behind NO. Do you honestly believe that if Kobe had had both of his big men for the entire season that they would not have a better record than NO? Why should Paul get the MVP because his big men have been healthier? That makes no sense. Kobe is a more complete player and he has carried a heavier load than Paul this year.

Paul is not averaging 3 spg and steals have only been recorded since 1973-74. There have been a few pgs who have averaged 20 and 10 but no one has scored like Kobe did after last year's ASG since Wilt. For what it's worth, I do think that Kobe could average 20 and 10 but that is not his role; he is a shooting guard. Paul is definitely not having the greatest season a pg has ever had. Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double for an entire season as well as averaging one cumulatively for a five season period. Nate Archibald led the league in scoring and assists in the same season. Jerry West had several seasons better than CP3's current season. Isiah Thomas had comparable seasons. Magic had many seasons better than CP3 is having.

CP3 is the best pg in the league now but, as Barkley might say, let's not get plumb goofy here.

I don't understand your fascination with preseason predictions and what you allege most people say. Did you take a poll? None of that matters. All that matters is how the players have actually performed. Bynum emerged this season, the Lakers traded for Gasol--which no one could have possibly imagined until it happened--Paul improved, Peja got healthy, West improved a bit as well and he also stayed healthy. The reality is that no team that is missing its big men for most of the season is going to contend for the top spot in the West--except for a Lakers team led by Kobe Bryant.

The season is not over, so it is premature to say that CP3 carried NO to the top seed unless you also acknowledge that Kobe carried the Lakers to the top seed as well before Gasol got hurt--and T-Mac carried Hou to the top seed briefly as well. For all we know, PHX may have the top seed when all is said and done. The race is very close and I don't believe that a season long MVP award should be decided by the outcome of one or two games. Kobe is the best player in the NBA and he has demonstrated that for several seasons. Now that his team has exceeded the "magic" 50 win barrier there is no excuse to not give him the award.

I still apply the same standard to the MVP award that I have used all along: it should go to the best, most complete player. That is why I have Kobe first, LeBron second and Paul third. The reason that I did an article about the Lakers' "three seasons" is that some people are making a big deal about the alleged strengths/weaknesses of various teams' supporting casts without really examining the entire situation. Kobe has had the weakest supporting cast of the top West teams this year, with the possible exception of T-Mac in Hou after Yao got hurt. Bynum's potential, what the Lakers might be able to do with Kobe-Odom-Gasol-Bynum-Fisher and any other hypothetical scenarios are completely irrelevant when evaluating what has happened this season. This season, Kobe has had Bynum for 35 games, Gasol for 19 games and no top level big man at all for 20 games and counting. His starting small forward (Walton) would not start for most of the top contenders and his starting pg (Fisher), while a huge upgrade over Smush, also would not start for most of the top contenders (he was a backup for Utah last year, in case you forgot).

 
At Wednesday, April 02, 2008 6:28:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I can't help you if you steadfastly refuse to consult readily available boxscore data to determine which players played in which games. For the last time, the Lakers are currently 11-9 when Kobe has played without both Bynum and Gasol. They are 24-11 with Kobe and Bynum. This is not even worth further discussion: take my word for it or look up the boxscores on your own. Furthermore, the Lakers' schedule in the 20 games without their two big men was very tough, both in terms of road games versus home games and in terms of the quality of teams that they played. The last two losses were to bad teams of course but now the Lakers are not only dealing with Bynum and Gasol being out but Fisher has a torn tendon in his foot and Odom has some kind of virus/upper respiratory infection--not to mention that Kobe has been playing the second half of the season with a torn ligament that sheared away a piece of the bone in his pinkie.

For some odd reason you seem incapable of understanding or acknowledging that Paul has had the services of BOTH of his big men for the entire season, while Kobe has NEVER HAD BOTH OF HIS BEST BIG MEN ON THE COURT AT THE SAME TIME THIS SEASON. I really hate to shout but I also hate when people refuse to listen. The Lakers are one game behind NO. Do you honestly believe that if Kobe had had both of his big men for the entire season that they would not have a better record than NO? Why should Paul get the MVP because his big men have been healthier? That makes no sense. Kobe is a more complete player and he has carried a heavier load than Paul this year.

Paul is not averaging 3 spg and steals have only been recorded since 1973-74. There have been a few pgs who have averaged 20 and 10 but no one since Wilt has scored like Kobe did after last year's ASG. For what it's worth, I do think that Kobe could average 20 and 10 but that is not his role; he is a shooting guard. Paul is definitely not having the greatest season a pg has ever had. Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double for an entire season as well as averaging one cumulatively for a five season period. Nate Archibald led the league in scoring and assists in the same season. Jerry West had several seasons better than CP3's current season. Isiah Thomas had comparable seasons. Magic had many seasons better than CP3 is having.

CP3 is the best pg in the league now but, as Barkley might say, let's not get plumb goofy here.

I don't understand your fascination with preseason predictions and what you allege most people say. Did you take a poll? None of that matters. All that matters is how the players have actually performed. Bynum emerged this season, the Lakers traded for Gasol--which no one could have possibly imagined until it happened--Paul improved, Peja got healthy, West improved a bit as well and he also stayed healthy. The reality is that no team that is missing its big men for most of the season is going to contend for the top spot in the West--except for a Lakers team led by Kobe Bryant.

The season is not over, so it is premature to say that CP3 carried NO to the top seed unless you also acknowledge that Kobe carried the Lakers to the top seed as well before Gasol got hurt--and T-Mac carried Hou to the top seed briefly as well. For all we know, PHX may have the top seed when all is said and done. The race is very close and I don't believe that a season long MVP award should be decided by the outcome of one or two games. Kobe is the best player in the NBA and he has demonstrated that for several seasons. Now that his team has exceeded the "magic" 50 win barrier there is no excuse to not give him the award.

I still apply the same standard to the MVP award that I have used all along: it should go to the best, most complete player. That is why I have Kobe first, LeBron second and Paul third. The reason that I did an article about the Lakers' "three seasons" is that some people are making a big deal about the alleged strengths/weaknesses of various teams' supporting casts without really examining the entire situation. Kobe has had the weakest supporting cast of the top West teams this year, with the possible exception of T-Mac in Hou after Yao got hurt. Bynum's potential, what the Lakers might be able to do with Kobe-Odom-Gasol-Bynum-Fisher and any other hypothetical scenarios are completely irrelevant when evaluating what has happened this season. This season, Kobe has had Bynum for 35 games, Gasol for 19 games and no top level big man at all for 20 games and counting. His starting small forward (Walton) would not start for most of the top contenders and his starting pg (Fisher), while a huge upgrade over Smush, also would not start for most of the top contenders (he was a backup for Utah last year, in case you forgot).

 
At Friday, April 04, 2008 6:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

paul carrried his team that was not supposed to make the playoffs to the nuumber 1 seed in the westren confrence. without him they are no good everybody but you seem to understand that. kobe hasnt carried the team with gasol they 16-4 without they 500. the hornets were supposed to be no good with all the players even if they were healthy and paul average 20 10 and 2.7 basically 3 steals lead league in both categories is haveing one of the best statistical seasons a point has ever had if not the best.

kobe can get 20 and 10 he has never been over 6 asists a game in his career jordan couldnt do it i know he cant jordan was a better passer than bryant even james cant and he is more of a pass first player, next youll say kobe could lead the league in rebounding, lead league in fg% lead league in blocks, your a kobe homer paul carried his team more right now in lead for mvp by game 1 half game if kobe over take him he could win if he dont he wont win it.

the best player is not mvp it's about winning youre supposed to reward winning how are you mvp on a bad or average team like kobe was on the past two years it's not most outstanding it's most valuable.

 
At Saturday, April 05, 2008 8:27:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

So, essentially, your case is because some people underestimated the Hornets and they have done better than expected that therefore Paul should win the MVP. Hey, that reasoning worked the first time that Nash won the MVP, so maybe it will work for Paul, too. NO was a tough team to handicap before the season because for the past two years they have dealt with a lot of injuries, making it hard to tell exactly what they have. With everybody healthy, they have a very good team. Obviously, Paul has played a big role in their success.

MJ could have averaged 10 apg but he was more valuable to his team as a scorer, particularly after Pip emerged as a great playmaker. MJ and Kobe both can make every pass and are big enough to see over double-teams and skilled enough to dribble out of traps and then make a good pass. No, I don't think that Kobe can lead the league in rebounding, fg% or blocked shots--but watching him pass, he certainly is capable of averaging 10 apg. He will never do it, of course, because that is not his role.

We are kind of going in circles here. I understand how the media interprets the MVP award and I understand how you feel about it but I have always felt that the honor should go to the best player. We simply disagree about this and there really is not too much more to be said. Let's just see how the season plays out.

 

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