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Nick Young the Hero, Randle’s Upside, R&R HOF, and Kwame!

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in Julius Randle, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers Audio, Lou Williams, Luke Walton | 2 comments

The Lakers (and every other NBA team) are just about ready to kick off the 2016-17 season. Sweet! So what to watch for?

After the big headlines of the day, including stories of Melo-as-activist and an admission from Kevin Durant about what motivated his move to Golden State — we break down this year’s NBA.com GM Survey. What are the surprises? What do GM’s say about the Lakers, and Luke Walton?

From there… it’s Nick Young. Because he’s the most surprising story of training camp, and it’s really not close. After, we take a look at Julius Randle, probably the most “controversial” Lakers young ‘un, insofar as future projections are concerned. How good to opposing scouts think he is?

Finally, we cap this week’s episode with our yearly look at the newest nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… and hand out a statue to Kwame Brown!

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Jordan Clarkson the 6th man, good CBA news, and Sasha statues!

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Lakers Analysis, Lakers News, Lou Williams, Opinion, Podcast | 1 comment

With preseason games 2 and 3 in the books, we have a little better feel for this Lakers team, and for the first time in a while… the sun is poking through the clouds!

This team, in our humble opinion, still isn’t going to win a ton of games, but on both sides of the ball have given Lakers fans all the feels to this point in the fake game schedule. Some of the more interesting trends: Jordan Clarkson has come off the bench for all three games, with Lou Williams as a starter. The results have been positive all around, so will Luke Walton stick with that lineup? If so, is that a good thing? Julius Randle has improved his playmaking skills over the offseason. How far can he take it? What about Brandon Ingram? Any concern over his slow start?

This after kicking around some big news, including happy reports on negotiations for a new CBA, and a very unusual ambassadorship for Yao Ming.

Plus, we reveal our most intriguing non-Warriors/Cavs teams in both conferences. Then we cap it off not just with statues for Sasha Vujacic, but a rousing game of Sasha Vujacic trivia!

It’s likely more than you can handle in a single episode, but we’re willing to risk it.

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PODCAST! The Lakers’ roster, Summer League, Cosby, Trump, summer movies and the sun!

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Brandon Bass, Byron Scott, D'Angelo Russell, Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Kamenetzky Brothers Land O'Lakers Podcast, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lou Williams, Mitch Kupchak, Opinion, Podcast, Roy Hibbert, The Fast and the Furious | 1 comment

The Lakers’ roster has taken shape, and the youngsters are in Vegas for some Summer League action. Before too long, the season will be upon us and for the first time since the “super-team” debacle, we could be treated to 82 games’ worth of genuine intrigue and stakes, even with the playoffs an unlikely destination. It would be a nice change of pace.

The show can be heard by clicking on the module and a list of talking points can be found below. Among the high points:

  • OUR TOP STORY: With Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, and Lou Williams now officially in the fold, the roster is more or less complete, save an unexpected turn of events. We share our thoughts on this year’s squad.
  • HEADLINES: With the free agency dust now settled, we examine the winners and losers of the offseason.
  • OUR ALMOST TOP STORY: Led by the trio of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson, this year’s summer league squad may be the most anticipated in Lakers history. Safe to say, they haven’t played up to the hype. In particular, Russell and Randle have periodically struggled. How concerned should fans be over this showing?
  • OUR NOT SPORTS STORIES: First, it’s been announced that Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, despite recent controversies, will not lose their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Plus, the sun is apparently about to run out. No. Seriously.
  • PERSON OF INTEREST: Or “persons,” more accurately. Batman and Superman, who’ll square off next summer in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ The new trailer is out, and quite frankly, we don’t get it.
  • AAK!!! Keeping with the POI theme, we address a series of summer movie-themed questions. What is our favorite “ceviche and Corona” summer movie? What’s our all-time favorite summer movie-going experience? Will ‘Ant-Man’ continue Marvel’s string of box office smashes? Plus, our thoughts on ‘Boyhood,’ which actually was a summer movie (and in its own right, a huge hit) last year.
  • RECOMMENDED READING:The Best Team Money Can Buy,Molly Knight’s deep dive into the Dodgers’ tumultuous 2014 season. The book is getting fantastic reviews, and Molly is a great writer and our friend, so we’re urging everyone to pick up a copy.
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Degree of Ifficulty and the 2014-15 Lakers

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in Jordan Hill, Kobe Bryant, Mike D'Antoni, Opinion, Steve Nash, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry |

Like most people in the hoops (or gambling) industry, I don’t think the 2014-15 Lakers will be a playoff team, for a variety of reasons. I can’t, for example, definitively answer the question, “Who is the second best player on the Lakers?”, but can say definitively that all of the potential answers point to trouble. The Western Conference is stacked too deep. Phoenix missed the postseason last year, despite winning 48 games. None of the teams ahead of them are obvious candidates to fall out, and meanwhile Denver, who won 57 games two seasons ago but was decimated by injuries last year, should be healthier and added Arron Afflalo. Anthony Davis leads a New Orleans team potentially capable of breaking out (though they have injury issues as well).

The Lakers on paper aren’t better than any of them, unless a line of things play out very favorably. String enough “ifs” together and anything is possible.

But all “if’s” are not created equally, whether in importance or likelihood of occurring. So below, I present a (not completely comprehensive) list of things that would lead to the Lakers winning more games than expected, perhaps many more, and the chances of them actually happening. A Degree of “Ifficulty,” so to speak.

1. If Kobe Bryant stays healthy and produces…

On a 1-10 scale of importance, where 10 signifies “most important,” this rates at eleventybillion. Nothing is more important to the fortunes of the Lakers than a healthy Kobe. Last year, he played six games, and we saw how that went. And that was on a team featuring Pau Gasol, who while no longer a star is still a player capable of opening space for others. If Kobe sustains some sort of long-term injury, their already long playoff odds almost surely grow insurmountable.

The good news? I’ve long maintained that if Kobe plays, he’ll play well. He’ll score, he’ll rebound, he’ll grease the wheels for others. He can’t be expected to be a defensive force anymore, but that’s not new. The difference in pre- and post-Achilles/knee Kobe won’t be drastic, but a continuation of the evolution his game has undergone for a few years. To his credit, Monday at Media Day Byron Scott said his job isn’t just to keep Kobe healthy for the season, but to make sure he’s able to play comfortably with his girls once Bryant hangs up his sneakers. Kobe says he understands the need to monitor his minutes, and I don’t think he’ll chafe until it looks like Plan Preservation might impact Plan Playoffs, which given the strength of the Western Conference could come sooner than people think.

The bad? No matter how Kobe feels now — excellent, he says — there’s no way to predict what the season will do to him. The time off hasn’t erased nearly two decades worth of wear and tear, and as soon as the season cranks up all the old infirmities will rear their heads. 70+ games feels like a realistic possibility, but as noted here, Kobe isn’t trying to cheat time this season, he’s trying to cheat time again. At some point, things break down, and when it happens, it can come quickly. Just ask Steve Nash. I’m optimistic. Like most people, my default is that Kobe can find a way. But that’s not exactly high end scientific insight.

Degree of Ifficulty (1-10): 5


2. If Steve Nash plays often, and well…

Nobody expects MVP-level Steve Nash to take the floor this year, but were he to play around 65 games at something in the general ZIP code of his final season in Phoenix on a per-minute basis, it could completely change the complexion of the roster. Suddenly, even if it’s only for 20 minutes a night, the Lakers have two great facilitators in their lineup, with Nash and Bryant. Their presence opens the floor for others (defensive problems notwithstanding). The easy bucket count rises. There is lineup flexibility, giving Scott more combinations to choose from. Some pressure comes off Jeremy Lin to play at Linsanity levels. Jordan Clarkson gets minutes out of merit, not necessity.

Nash will always be remembered in L.A. as a symbol of failure and disappointment. A good final season helping the Lakers push towards the playoffs won’t change that, but at least it would leave fans with more positive memories, and perhaps more importantly would let one of the greatest players of this generation leave the game on something resembling his terms. Can he do it? I really hope so, but it’s much easier to believe in Bryant’s chances to rebound, physically. Until Nash shows he can play regularly, absorbing contact without his nerves firing out of control, it’s hard for optimism to morph into confidence.

Degree of Ifficulty: 8.5

3. If Wesley Johnson* makes a leap…

Look at the dude’s game log for 2013-14 – he was all over the place. 24 points one night, one point the next. Blame Mike D’Antoni if you’d like, but much of that is on Wes. Some games, Johnson was a force on one end or the other, or occasionally both. Too often, though, he’d disappear like a wood-grain chameleon, on the floor but basically invisible. He’s not untalented, but Johnson has rarely managed to display his gifts effectively for any length of time. He’ll have another chance this year, because the Lakers don’t have another wing who can defend at his level, nor a bunch of pure 3′s trying to steal his minutes. Johnson has been working out with Kobe a lot over the summer, and combined with the opportunity to play real games with him, maybe it’s enough to help realize more of the potential making him the fourth pick in the 2010 Draft.

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Nine interesting things about the upcoming Lakers season

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Kobe Bryant, Lakers Analysis, Lakers statistics, Opinion, Steve Nash | 12 comments

The calendar says September, still the NBA’s Season of Possibilities, where the Lakers are limited only by lack of imagination and inability to suspend disbelief. But eventually the games will begin, and like most I expect the Season of Realities will be unkind to the purple and gold. A playoff run isn’t impossible, but given the depth in the West, they’ll need a string of things to go right in specific ways, in the same way Powerball winners need a string of things to go right specific ways.

But hey, just because the end result isn’t likely to add substantively to the franchise’s illustrious history, that doesn’t mean we’re staring down the barrel at 82 games of boredom. The 2014-15 season offers plenty of legitimate intrigue, nine examples of which are listed below, in no particular order:

1. Kobe Bryant. 

As outlined here, the track record for elite scoring guards after 30 years old is borderline catastrophic. At 36, Kobe would already be defying history to play at, or even close to, career levels, even before factoring in his injuries. Mentally, how much patience will he have, whether with any new limitations placed on his ability to exert influence on games and seasons? If the Lakers fall out of the playoff race? Were he to drag this bunch into postseason contention, it would go down as one of his most impressive achievements.

Really, how much explanation does putting Kobe on this list require?

2. Julius Randle. 

Rare is the Lakers rookie counted on to develop into a franchise cornerstone (or the type of player potentially garnering one in a trade), but Randle obviously qualifies. There’s plenty to like. Randle has great athleticism for his size, and has a bunch of the requisite intangibles — excited to be a Laker, wants to be pushed, wants to learn, etc. The motor, to use the parlance, seems to be there. He’ll have to adapt to the length and size of NBA competition, which could take time, but the first big hurdle is fitness. Byron Scott has already spoken publicly about the need for Randle to get in shape, which is both a warning and a challenge, and not necessarily reflective of where he is today, physically. Could just be a helpful reminder that whatever a rookie thinks qualifies as being in shape is probably 30-40 percent away from where he actually needs to be. Watching his development, hopefully not hindered by excessive playing time for Carlos Boozer, will be a lot of fun.

3. What does Ed Davis do with a season’s worth of playing time?

When the Grizzlies managed to offload Rudy Gay to the Raptors, plenty of people believed Memphis won the deal not just because they shed Gay’s salary, but also snagged Davis in the process. To that point, particularly in the weeks leading into the trade, Davis had been a pretty efficient scorer with moments, albeit inconsistently, of solid offensive rebounding. For a variety of reasons, he never was given enough consistent playing time to grow with the Grizzlies. Still only 25 with legitimate production at the NBA level under his belt, if Davis can carve out a season’s worth of consistent playing time, he has the most breakout potential of anyone in L.A.’s Short Contract Gang.

4. The last stand of Steve Nash. 

I realize the guy has become a symbol of catastrophe and the whole “I want the money” thing didn’t endear himself to the fan base, but we’re talking about one of the greatest point guards of this or any other generation trying to exit the game on something even kind of resembling his own terms. Those rare moments last season where Nash was able to play effectively — this one, mostly – were great to watch. He doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of equity locally as Kobe, nor should he, but Nash’s story arc this season has the potential to be engrossing. Low risk, high reward.

5. The trade deadline. 

If the Lakers aren’t legitimate playoff contenders in mid-February, attempting to flip Jordan Hill, Jeremy Lin, and anything else not to the floor isn’t a problem. But what if they’re within imagination’s reach of the top eight? On the one hand, even if they beat the odds to make the postseason, as things stand now you’d have to be smoking, and probably eating, piles of northern California’s finest to believe a title is a genuine possibility. Is it worth preserving a quick first round loss to hold assets that might otherwise be traded? On the other, does the front office think they can sell the fan base (and Kobe) on short-circuiting a season in the name of a rebuild? Will they believe they’re obligated to?

6. The Jeremy Lin Phenomenon. 

More than the player himself, who I don’t think lasts more than a year in L.A., I’m interested in the culture around him. The Lakers have a massive following in China. Or maybe more specifically, Kobe does. Still, the brand is powerful there, as is Lin. Moreover, Los Angeles itself has a thriving Chinese community. Linsanity was a phenomenon unlikely to be repeated, but could there be some sort of small scale revival, locally and abroad?

7. What can Byron fix? 

For about six thousand different reasons, ranging from coaching to personnel to psychology, the Lakers were a catastrophe on their end last year. Scott is expected to bring a much more developed sense of defensive commitment, but unless his thinner mustache has supernatural rock-bleeding powers not granted Mike D’Antoni’s somewhat thicker mustache, the results could still be spotty given their lack of perimeter defenders and rim protectors. Yes, teams can exceed the sum of their parts, but the parts do matter. Pushing the Lakers somewhere near league average in defensive efficiency would be a significant achievement. They’ll be all over it early, while everyone’s fresh and full of commitment. Except even last year’s team was 13th in efficiency through the first 16 games. How well do they sustain things through injuries, attrition, and the natural ebbs and flows of 82 games?

8. Swaggy P, Year 2: Electric Swaggaloo. 

Last season, he was solid gold. Imagine how he’ll be now, with a four year deal under his belt?

9. Phil is gone, so does everyone get along? 

He was the elephant in the family room for a long time, but now Phil Jackson is officially, positively, unequivocally not coming back. The Possibility of Phil was a great source of tension between Jim and Jeanie (and for that matter, the organization and fans), but now he’s in New York. So does that help everyone here stay on the same page for good?

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