Tag: Kobe Bryant

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Lakers’ coaches liked how D’Angelo Russell handled himself, pressure in Summer League


Nobody was under the pressure D’Angelo Russell was in Las Vegas at the NBA Summer League. Not Karl-Anthony Towns, not Kristaps Porzingis, not anybody. It comes with being the highest Lakers’ draft pick since James Worthy — in Russell’s first game, they had to open the top level of the Thomas & Mack Center for the first time in Summer League history (the Lakers were playing Towns’ Timberwolves, but this was a Lakers’ crowd). The crowds for Lakers games were huge all through Summer League, plus camera crews were popping up around Russell off the court as well. Welcome to the Lakers’ spotlight.

Which made his struggles at Summer League seem more pronounced. He looked slow while the game was moving fast. He averaged 11.8 points per game on 37.7 percent shooting, 11.8 percent from three. He had 3.2 assists and 5.2 turnovers per game. The fact this is that Summer League should be about learning — you can’t read much into his numbers, it’s about development — seemed lost on people. Lakers’ nation is not known for its patience.

But the Lakers’ coaching staff liked the big picture things they saw, Holly McKenzie wrote for Complex Magazine.

The biggest positive that the Lakers coaching staff took from his experience in Vegas was watching how he reacted to adversity. Rather than getting flustered or frustrated with those around him, he paid attention to things he needed to improve on as well as the ways the NBA game is different than college. Russell was the same player to his teammates during practice sessions whether the team had won or lost its previous game.

“It is rare any time you have a rookie [with] so much confidence,” Madsen says. “Most rookies enter the league so timid, really nervous. They were ‘the man’ in college and now going to the NBA, you’re dealing with grown men, you’re dealing with superstars. You’re dealing with financial endorsements that are massive. The pressure is that much higher. D’Angelo’s confidence never wavered and his love of the game never wavered.”

That is a good sign. When I spoke about Russell’s play with someone who saw a lot of him in college, he talked about how Russell took a little bit to adjust to the speed of the collegiate game as well. But once he got his mind around it, he played well enough to get drafted No. 2 — the lesson was to give him time.

The Lakers will do just that. They will sell the Kobe Bryant farewell tour (maybe) this season as the young potential future core — Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — start to adapt to the NBA game. They will have good veteran mentors like Kobe, Brandon Bass, and Lou Williams.

What should matter more Lakers fans is how Russell looks next summer in Las Vegas — has he improved dramatically, has his mind and body caught up with the speed of the game? If Russell is still struggling a year from now, then there should be concern. Right now, he looks like a player learning, sometimes the hard way.

Philippines claims Jordan Clarkson as natural-born player

Los Angeles Lakers v Utah Jazz

The Philippines made Andray Blatche a citizen so he could play for the country’s basketball team

The nation says it won’t have to go to such trouble for Jordan Clarkson, who was born in Florida to a Filipino mother.

Naveen Ganglani of Rappler:

The state of the Philippine national basketball team took an unexpected turn on Monday, August 24, when it was revealed that Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson actually acquired a Philippine passport before turning 16-years-old, making him eligible to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Director Sonny Barrios told Rappler on Monday in a phone call that reports of Clarkson’s eligibility to play as a “natural born” Filipino player were true.

“He’s submitted his documents,” Barrios said. “It has been submitted to FIBA, who’s asking for supporting documents. As we speak, those are being submitted to them.”

“It’s a process that we have to request and honor,” said Barrios, who is still unsure if Clarkson will get to suit up for Gilas in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship as they await FIBA approval. “We have to be patient, and we go by FIBA’s process.”

We’ll see what FIBA says, but Clarkson could be huge for the Philippines. They placed second in 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. A victory in this year’s edition would secure a trip to the 2016 Olympics. Finishing second through fourth would at least send the team to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Basketball has become immensely popular in the Philippines. Stars like LeBron James market themselves there, and Kobe Bryant is revered there.

If Clarkson leads the country to the Olympics, he’ll gain ground on his Lakers teammate. The country is starving for a homegrown star.

Report: Lakers considering bringing back Metta World Peace

Metta World Peace

One of the frequent criticisms of the Lakers is that they are still living in 2008 as an organization. From their choice of Byron Scott as coach and his old-school offensive systems, to their lack of trust in analytics, to their reliance on an aging Kobe Bryant both on the court (see Byron Scott) and off it to sell tickets/sponsorships, it seems like time has frozen with one of the NBA’s storied franchises.

This isn’t going to help any.

The Lakers are considering bringing back Metta World Peace (the former Ron Artest), reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers are discussing the possibility of signing free agent forward Metta World Peace to a one-year contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

No deal has been agreed upon, but there have been talks between the Lakers and World Peace’s representatives, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

There are varying degrees of interest within the Lakers organization about bringing him back to the franchise at 35 years old, but World Peace has been in the Lakers’ practice facility this offseason playing against the team’s players, including 2014 first-round pick Julius Randle, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Varying degrees of interest? This is about like debating if Donald Trump’s hair is real — we all know the answer. Some people may just not want to admit it.

The Lakers have potentially superb young players to help them move into the future — D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — but this would be a return to the past. And if you’re looking for a veteran mentor, there are better options.

When last we saw MWP on an NBA court, an unimpressive Knicks team waived him in 2014 because he isn’t near the same defender he once was and his offensive game has slipped (he shot just 31 percent from three). Last season he played in Italy where he averaged 13.3 points a game. At age 35, he’s not going to bounce back to NBA levels of play.

World Peace had an impressive NBA career — an All-Star, an NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and a champion. He’ll be remembered fondly for his colorful antics, and not as fondly for things like the Malice in the Palace. But he had a fantastic NBA career.

One that should be over.

I’d like to say they can’t be serious, but the Lakers are hard to read lately.