Lakers offensive system not the problem, it’s the shooters

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The Lakers are frustrated. They are talking about wanting to run more triangle sets and less of Mike Brown’s east-to-west motion offense. I’ve said it’s less about the offense than the execution — the Lakers need to be an inside-out team, but are you when Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined take just 1.7 more shots per game than Kobe Bryant alone? And in the loss to Washington, Kobe had 30 points on 31 shots to Bynum/Gasol having 38 points on 19 shots. That’s not running the offense as designed.

The problem is it’s not always easy for the Lakers to get the ball into their post players because defenders sag down into the paint — and the Lakers don’t make them pay. The Lakers are shooting just 30.3 percent from three going into Friday night, third worst in the league (the Bobcats and Jazz are worse).

Coach Mike Brown talked about it, as reported by Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:

“We’ve got to make them pay on the back side, so teams are hesitant about doubling because they’re getting hurt on the weak side,” Brown said. “We’re shooting 30 percent from 3(-point range) right now, so that doesn’t quite help the cause, because teams stay in the double team longer and they really come aggressively.

“If we were halfway decent in that (3-point) area, where we’re getting great looks because guys are getting doubled, we’d be even better and more efficient offensively. But it’s going to continue to be a struggle for our guys on the block, because, shoot, I know if I’m playing us, I would double those guys. I don’t know who wouldn’t.”

What Brown wants to run is what the Spurs ran with Tim Duncan and David Robinson — but those Spurs teams had good shooters everywhere spacing the court. Collapse on the bigs and the ball moved and you paid a price.

There is no price to be paid with the Lakers. They don’t move the ball consistently, they don’t knock down shots. They do not make themselves hard to defend, they just beat you because they have three really talented players. But those guys need help.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.