Before tonight's game with the Los Angeles
Kobes Lakers, we had the good fortune of exchanging a little Q&A with one of the leading Lakers blogs, LA Ball Talk. We each sent out five questions about the teams and the matchup. Here's our questions to them (and their answers are in purple):
1. Sasha Vujacic is often given a lot of attention as a solid three-point shooter and bearer of one of the Association's great nicknames: The Machine. However, his production has dipped significantly this season, at least statistically. Having not seen many Laker games this year, could you describe if this is merely Sasha suffering from other players such as Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom getting more minutes off the bench, or is he simply not playing up to his potential?
Sasha started the season with little playing time with Phil Jackson mixing and matching various lineups trying to figure out whats best. On December 28, Sasha had his breakout game of the season scoring 17 points in 31 minutes. The reason Sasha has had difficulty in staying on the court is because the Lakers are so deep as a team that if one particular player, Sasha for example, isn't playing exceptionally well, you can swap him out for someone else that will provide more production in that time.
2. How do you think Lamar Odom has adjusted to his new role as a bench player. Would you rather have him start?
I think/always thought that Lamar was well overpaid for who he is. I defined him as a slightly above average player with great versatility but little IQ. He has all the talent in the world, but doesn't know how to put it to work. Lamar is the type of guy that can play any position, from the one to the five, and be good at it. As a starter, there was pressure on Odom to perform. He must start the game off by creating some plays for himself and his teammates. The issue truly lies in the fact that Lamar's game is not one build for the triangle offense, or any structured offense at that.
As you watch the game between the Lakers and Rockets you will notice the Lakers run two different offensive systems. Of course it's a lot less apparent since Farmar and Odom won't be playing, but you should notice it either way. The starting lineup with Fisher, Bryant, Radmanovic, Gasol, and Bynum run the triangle offense. Off the ball rotations from weak side to strong side and vice versa non stop until they finally find the right positioning for the easy shot. The bench comes on as a unit generally and is a lot less structured. The young guys run their offense more through pick and rolls, screen and rolls, give and gos, and just free "D'Antoni" type offense.
To put that all together, when you mix a free flowing offense with Lamar Odom's lack of basketball IQ, he fits in better with the bench. He should be a front runner for the 6th man award this season and would rightfully deserve it. I believe the main concern pre season with Lamar was that his people wanted him starting for reasons other than basketball minutes. Odom is in a contract year and currently making $11.5 million per season. If he is coming off the bench, there is no chance anyone will pay him over $10 million after this year. In my opinion, he wasn't worth more then $8 million max in the first place.
Yao = established game, great size advantage over all competition, fluid stroke, solid back to the basket game.
Bynum = young, unestablished, searching for signature moves, solid back to the basket game, great pick and roll game, solid rebounding, on the rise.
Andrew Bynum cannot compare to
our answers to LA Ball Talk's questions can be found HERE!