30 to 16 to 1: (End of the road:The LA Lakers) 6 for 24 and why size does matter

Posted on 09/27/2010 by

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The Basics:

30 to 16 to 1. Based on a half baked notion, that since the true goal of any NBA season is to turn thirty teams into one champion and as we saw in my earlier piece, what wins in the regular season is not necessarily what  gets you the trophy, my 2010 Playoff Review series continues.

The Half-Baked Notion:

Simple (based on 2010 numbers):

  • The best two players accounted for 55% of a teams wins in the 2010 Playoffs.
  • The top three players are just below the pareto threshold
  • The next three (4,5,6th man) account for the rest of the positive win contribution about equally.
  • After that everybody else actually hurt teams in the playoffs.

The format will look at the best six players in the playoffs for each team, will look at how many wins their coach/injuries might have cost them and talk about their opportunities/drawbacks going forward (and if they’ve done anything in the off-season to address these). We will go from least productive to most productive team in the Playoff (based on the table that follows now):

After almost twenty thousand words, 17 pieces and 2 months , we are finally at the  end of the road now. Only one team left standing, and sadly enough it’s the damn, magnificent Los Angeles Lakers.

As I said before, I’ve avoided this post (and the previous one) for a long time and not for the typical reasons. For the Lakers the problem was passion. I could write a 1000 word post on the Lakers in my sleep (it just wouldn’t be very objective and would contain multiple snarky comments about the Mamba). But this is important , for if the Celtics in 2010 and their playoff success are the root of the half baked notion the Lakers provide confirmation of it. The Lakers are also a great example of the short supply of tall people.

Writing the piece is easy, keeping the snark  to a minimum not so much (given my feelings for Jack’s boys). So please let me know how I do. The final piece is at hand : let’s talk about the Lakers (or as they’re known affectionately around the ESPN offices: Kobe and the sidekicks).

The duckface is coming for you

Why size does matter

  • The Storyline: The Half baked theory states that only your top six matters in the playoffs. The 2010 Lakers featured four Players above .150 Wp48, one >.300 WP48 player and no negative win producers in their top 6 . In short,  the 2010 Lakers were the poster child for the Half Baked Theory. To put in perspective here’s the list of all the teams that had 4 >.150 WP48 players in the playoffs and at least one >.300 WP48 (and no negative win producers:
    You’ll note that every single team on that list: made the finals, 5 of 6 won the finals and every single one made the finals the next year (and won in 5 of 6 cases). Despite the hype surrounding other teams,  all the augurs point to the Lakers coming back  to defend their title in the Finals. Let’s see if I can find the spanner in the works.

What's this doing here?

  • The Good:The Lakers were historically good in the playoffs (and really they needed to be). Here’s the full list of players for the teams listed above for comparison:

Gasol was the best player on the team (and the biggest producer of wins for his team). Kobe once again was a good  Robin to someone else’s Batman (not as good as Scottie though ). Odom and Bynum added effective size.

  • The Bad: Artest and Fisher did just enough as to not kill the Lakers (and both came through notably in spots). However both have serious liabilities (Artest offensively and Fisher defensively).
  • The Coach: Phil Jackson …. Screw it:
  • Needs: A decent point guard that can shoot from distance and run the triangle. A proven defensive small forward who’s not an offensive  liability for the inevitable Ron-Ron Meltdown. Lighting a votive candle so that Kobe and Bynum are healthy come playoff time.
  • Major Moves: The Lakers roster looks like this for 2010-2011:As a Celtics fan, #$#%% #@%@@!!!! They got the perfect point guard for the triangle in Blake. They picked up Barnes as an upgrade from Ron Ron and they stole a guy in the 2nd round of the draft (Caracter who they just signed @#@$@@@@$@#!!!$!$!%%@^@^). I actually think the Lakers may have an early draft of my GM sop. I  initially though the the Kobe deal could be the turd in the punch bowl in the future but I’m convinced they’ll fleece somebody with that contract. Even with the on-going health issues with Kobe, Bynum and Artest (knee, knee and mental), this is a good deep team.
  • 2011 Outlook:My first pass analysis has this team as a 60 win team. Once I adjust for minutes and injuries, I think this team is closer to 53 -54 wins in the regular season. But for this team the regular season does not matter. The Lakers are built for the Playoffs and the fact that I see them as 3 or 4 seed  out west shouldn’t matter to them till the finals. The Spurs, Blazers and OKC (and a surprise team I will not mention) can make it interesting for them before the finals but one of the new bigs in the West needs to have a break out year  for these teams to have a shot (Splitter, Oden, Aldrich and one more player to be named later :-) ). I see this team in the Finals but after a series of wars (sorry OKC). However even if their size is healthy (and that’s a big if) I just don’t see them taking the Heat if they have homecourt advantage. Their best hope to repeat is to do what I’ll do and pray for Garnett to be healthy and even then I like the Celtics :-)

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