The Lakers were a pretty pedestrian defensive team last year, despite coach Mike Brown’s pedigree. They were 13th in the league in points surrendered per possession, giving up 101.7 points per 100 possessions (the league average was 101.8).
And they struggled against the pick-and-roll, particularly against the roll man who shot 49 percent against the Lakers on that play last year (according to MySynergySports.com). It is an area they need to improve if they want to get Kobe Bryant another ring.
Enter Dwight Howard.
The Lakers new center can score plenty, but what he does better than any Laker big on last year’s roster is defend — he is the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Mike Brown is going to look a lot smarter next year, and he knows it. Here is what he told ESPN about Howard.
“You’re talking about a guy who is seven feet, who has the feet that he has, it’s unbelievable. His foot quickness is something, to me, that stands out right away, more than anything else. It helps him run in transition offensive transition, and get easy baskets.
“But more importantly, in a pick-and-roll situation defensively he’s going to help guys like Steve Nash, and Kobe and Metta (World Peace) and whoever else we have on the perimeter defend the pick and roll game, because that is the way the league is going. Teams are playing smaller, quicker, faster, they are spreading the floor, they are playing the pick and roll game, and to have a guy like Dwight involved in that or on the weakside coming over to help is something special.”
It will be interesting to watch the USA evolve as a defensive team, it’s going to take time. With Dwight Howard’s back keeping him limited in preseason and possibly missing the start of the season, the chemistry it takes time to develop on the defensive end will be slow for the Lakers. It will be the same on both ends.
What it means is, much like the Heat of 2011, the team playing in April and beyond will very different than the team from November. At least the Lakers are counting on that. Like Brown is counting on Howard.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.
Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.
He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.
Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.
Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.
Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.
Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.
Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.
After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.
Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.
Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.
Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.
Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.
Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.
Wallace, via TMZ:
“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.
“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”
Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.
The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.
Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?
That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.
Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.
Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.