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Hollinger thinks we're contenders now


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#1 Jackson

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:20 PM

Soooo ... now what do we think of the Los Angeles Lakers?

Calling them the "new look" Lakers might be a bit much -- this is still the outfit led by Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and the other guys are still mostly filler.

But with two trades on Thursday, L.A. dramatically altered both its present and its near future, while once again shipping out more money than it took back.

At least this time it was about more than just money; the Lakers got back two players who are going to help them more than a lot of people realize. More on that in a minute.

First, though, the Lakers are once again cutting dollars. They didn't use their $8 million trade exception from the Lamar Odom deal; instead, they used both of their first-round draft picks this June to pay other teams to take unproductive secondary players. One went to the Rockets to pay them to take Derek Fisher, owed $3.4 million after this season, and one went to the Cavaliers so they would take Luke Walton, owed $6.1 million next season when you factor in his trade kicker. The latter figure was partially offset by the returning salary of Christian Eyenga from Cleveland, owed $1.1 million, but there was still a net savings of $5 million in deadweight money.

And remember, those savings double because the Lakers are deep into the luxury tax. So unloading Fisher and Walton realizes an actual savings of $16.8 million next season.

(Since I'm writing about the Fisher deal at length here instead of my usual grades file (Click here for more grades), let me note that Houston gets a nice solid B+ for landing a short-term backup point guard and purchasing a first-round draft pick in 2014 for $3.4 million. And let us also note the night-and-day difference in valuations on first-round picks today. Golden State and Cleveland paid an effective price of nearly $10 million for theirs, which is why I graded each of them so harshly.)

The crazy part is that L.A. actually got usable players in these deals. They'd have gladly given away the first-rounders just to get rid of Walton's contract, but getting players back in those deals significantly improves their prospects. From Houston, the Lakers get Jordan Hill, a serviceable backup big man who can run the floor, rebound, block shots, and generally be a much better option off the bench than Troy Murphy or Josh McRoberts.

And from Cleveland, the Lakers get Ramon Sessions, a dynamic pick-and-roll point guard who provides a sizable upgrade on the pathetic Fisher-Blake combination that the Lakers had been trotting out. Sessions has defensive shortcomings and can't space the floor well for the Lakers' three stars, but L.A. was so desperate for another dynamic offensive player to create easy shots that he'll still be a major shot in the arm.

This is where we get back to my BAD rating. BAD stands for "Below Average Dependency," and it's my tool for determining how big a chunk of a team's minutes are squandered on bad players.

The Lakers, despite owning the league's sixth-best record, lead the league in BAD. They are top-heavy in the extreme, with three All-Stars, one half-good reserve (Matt Barnes), and a roster full of replacement-level filler.

Some of the filler have big names -- Fisher and Metta World Peace, for instance -- but at this point in their careers they shouldn't be starting for good teams. In fact, they should hardly be playing at all.

And that explains why L.A. is third in the West, and not first, even though they have the best three-man core this side of Miami and Bryant, Bynum and Gasol haven't missed a single game because of injury.

In turn, that explains why getting players like Hill and Sessions -- who would do little for the bottom line of several teams -- is likely to make this club a lot stronger. Basically, the Lakers' secondary players were so bad that even replacing them with mediocre ones is going to dramatically improve the team.

I understand the sentiment in L.A. regarding Fisher's departure, and you wish it could have been handled more delicately. But in terms of the business side, this was a no-brainer. Fisher has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 9.01 and Steve Blake 8.87; among point guards with at least 750 minutes, only Orlando's ridiculous Chris Duhon has been worse. Fisher barely scores half as often as he did in 2007-08, his first season back in L.A., and with a lower true shooting percentage and more turnovers. His 3-point shooting, his "specialty," has also fallen to 32.4 percent.

Replacing that dynamic duo with a point guard with a 16.44 PER provides a massive shot in the arm. Per minute he averages nearly twice as many points and provides huge advantages in assists and rebounds too. There's no way this won't translate to the Lakers' win total, even if he is less productive in the Lakers' system than he was in Cleveland.

Similarly, Hill isn't exactly going gangbusters -- he gets pushed around on defense pretty easily and he is often out of position. Big picture, he's something of a "4.5" that lacks the skill for a 4 or the beef to play 5.

But compared to Murphy, this guy will look like Bill Russell. Hill averages 13 points per 40 minutes, nearly double that of Murphy or McRoberts, and his 13 boards per 40 minutes also is a more than 50 percent improvement. Playing off the ball, running and finishing -- he can do those things, and likely won't have a major adjustment coming to the Lakers.

So how big an improvement are we talking about? Well, factor in 30 minutes or so with a seven-point PER jump at the point, and another 20 minutes with a five-point jump for the third big man. Even if you water down Sessions' numbers because he doesn't fit perfectly in L.A.'s offense, it will still make a bigger impact than people realize.

Sum it up and the numbers say it's worth about six wins over an 82-game season -- a jump as big as one they'd make by trading a halfway decent starter for an All-Star. That would have had us writing 3,000-word epics for days, but this more subtle move was what the Lakers' situation required. With a real backup big and a decent point guard joining their three studs, the Lakers can make a much more coherent case for being contenders.

They're not favorites, mind you, and they still are very fragile -- if one of the three stars goes down, forget it. But in a Western Conference where everybody save Oklahoma City has shown considerable warts, it does make the Lakers a legitimate threat to reach the Finals. I'm not sure I could have said that with a straight face 24 hours ago.



#2 J-H!zZl3

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:25 PM

Similarly, Hill isn't exactly going gangbusters -- he gets pushed around on defense pretty easily and he is often out of position. Big picture, he's something of a "4.5" that lacks the skill for a 4 or the beef to play 5.


But compared to Murphy, this guy will look like Bill Russell.



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Yeah, Hollinger basically believes that our core outside of Kobe, Pau and Drew was so terrible that Sessions and Hill will do wonders for us. You don't usually see praise from Hollinger when it comes to the Lakers. Posted Image

Edited by J-H!zZl3, March 15, 2012 - 04:27 PM.

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#3 247Stylin

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:28 PM

I understand why people are butthurt about fisher geting traded but..

He was a HUGE liability. Imagine the career high playoffs avg westbrook was going to put on fish.. Scary

#4 serenityy

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:29 PM

Hollinger is a mathematician analyzing a game full of emotions.

Judging the trade deadline of who got better or worse should be his only job .

#5 LikeABosh

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:32 PM

I understand why people are butthurt about fisher geting traded but..

He was a HUGE liability. Imagine the career high playoffs avg westbrook was going to put on fish.. Scary


I haven't seen Jordan Hill play much but I heard he's just a bum. I'd rather see Fisher play 2 minutes or just chill on the bench(not sure if he would want either) then to watch him go while Kobe is still playing for the Lakers.

#6 Notorious Arab

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:35 PM

But the flaw in his formula is the intangibles.

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#7 androsays

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 04:39 PM

[expletive] Hollinger n his tell-all analytic numbers

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#8 LakersChamps243

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 05:44 PM

I could give two [expletive]s what this guy thinks

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#9    

   

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 05:46 PM

I've always liked John Hollinger.

NOT!!!

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#10 Cowboys&LakersFan

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 05:47 PM

I agree with him.
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#11 Japago

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Posted March 15, 2012 - 06:09 PM

I knew he'd give them praise because they have decent PERs.

If the Lakers can upgrade the bench through vet's minimum signings in the next few weeks, I'll give them an outside chance. Right now, their bench is too horrible for the Lakers to stack up against really good teams.

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#12 L.A.K.E.R

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 12:21 AM

Hollinger is trash, I'm not sure if he's even watched one full game in his life.

And for the record, Jordan Hill has been garbage so far throughout his entire career. I'm completely underwhelmed by him, hopefully he does something useful to prove me wrong.

#13 TKainZero

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 02:38 AM

i do not understand the jordan hill hate


Shannon brown was a ZERO until he put on purple and gold
trevor ariza was a zero until he put on purple and gold


Jordan hill is still young and has serious potential.


I do not get the hate...
i understand he is not going to be an all-star...

But, he is going to look so much better then mcmurphy its not even funny

#14 TKainZero

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 02:47 AM

Just some random Jordan Hill games from this year


how about 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks in 18 mins?

Most mins in a game this season? 28 mins.. 11 points 15 rebounds

What about back to back double doubles in 19 and 22 mins a night?



Knicks only played him 20 mins in a game ONE time
Rockets only played him 30+ mins in a game THREE TIMES

the kid has had very little chance to play


I think this oppertunity will be AMAZING for him
I am not saying he will make Pau expendable in a year...

But, i am saying i think he can post a double double off the bench backing up Pau and Byunum

When McRoberts and Murphy come in, the defense gets a break, this guy is going to make people work, or Hill is going to make plays.



Im not going to be like some people and say he is going to average double digets in points, and play the SF spot... but he will be a VERY capible backup to Pau and Bynum

#15 Rad

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 03:07 AM

Everyone wet themselves over the Murphy signing, yet he's been less than productive. If Hill can prove himself and outplay Murphy, I wouldn't mind seeing him take Murphy's minutes.

#16 Roidz

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 06:16 AM

Fisher has a higher PER than Blake? Wow.

But I agree with TKainZero. Hill has potential and can't be worse than Murphy.

Edited by Roidz, March 16, 2012 - 06:16 AM.

"What I'm doing right now, I'm chasing perfection." -Kobe Bean Bryant

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#17 Hero

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 09:28 AM

i do not understand the jordan hill hate


Shannon brown was a ZERO until he put on purple and gold
trevor ariza was a zero until he put on purple and gold


Jordan hill is still young and has serious potential.


I do not get the hate...
i understand he is not going to be an all-star...

But, he is going to look so much better then mcmurphy its not even funny

I agree. I actually like this pickup because he can be a great bench scorer for us. I hope he puts up good numbers in the times he's given to play.

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#18 Drift

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 09:39 AM

Shannon Brown was an athletic freak that drastically improved his game with the Lakers. I admit I miss Ariza and his defensive abililities.
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#19 J-H!zZl3

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 09:52 AM

Shannon Brown was an athletic freak that drastically improved his game with the Lakers. I admit I miss Ariza and his defensive abililities.


Yeah, Ariza was just an athletic and raw player that couldn't shoot to save his life when he played for Orlando. When he came to the Lakers, he improved his game dramatically. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Craig Hodges (when he was a shooting coach for the Lakers) helped him improve his jumper. Ariza was very good at playing the passing lanes, but was never a good on ball defender. Ever since he left LA, his production has dipped mightily.

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#20 GP1_KB24

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Posted March 16, 2012 - 09:53 AM

I agree with him.


It's funny how you just started posting again after we got these trades. Jus sayin' though..

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