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Lakers officially sign Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison

11:36 pm in Lakers, Trades by Wicked Chicken

After all the rumors that swirl around you never know what’s legit or not until it’s official. Well the Lakers have finally officially announced the signing of Jordan Hill and Antawn Jamison to the 2012-2013 roster. Both of these players are really nice additions to the team and fill some bench roles the Lakers desperately needed to fulfill.

Jordan Hill joined the Lakers late in the season when he was acquired in the Derek Fisher trade. Although Jordan was never really given consistent playing time, he proved he could be of value when he had a really nice game against OKC late in the season, and again did a solid job in the playoffs with limited minutes. Jordan is known for his athleticism and rebounding tenacity, but he’s also shown some nice touch, a bit of range, and even a few post moves. I think Jordan’s a great compliment to this Lakers team providing youth and athleticism to a very veteran team, and should bring some energy while Bynum or Pau need a breather.

When fans and media were looking for a youth movement in Lakerland they probably didn’t have Antawn Jamison in mind. This 14 year vet has been a high level talent his entire career but has yet to bring home a ring which is why he came to LA. The Lakers bench was the lowest scoring bench in the NBA last year and Antawn gives them instant offense. He’s averaged 19.5 points a game for his career, and had over 17 a game last year with the Cavs. That’s better than the entire bench averaged last year. I don’t expect he’ll put up those same numbers again having to come off the bench and playing behind the scoring talent of the Lakers starters, but knowing the Lakers have a guy coming off the bench that has scored 51 in a game before is of course comforting. I think Antawn’s skill set is another perfect compliment to this roster, as he can handle the ball, post up, and also hit the three. I expect Jamison and Bynum will be a great fit when Pau goes to the bench. His outside shooting threat will spread the floor and give Bynum room to operate inside. Plus Jamison is versatile and can play both forward positions, something that was missed with the departure of Lamar Odom.

I really like the way the Lakers management has constructed this team. They are well balanced, and look really good on paper. If I were playing GM the last move I’d make is trying to find a combo SG/SF that can flat out shoot to come off the bench. Bellinelli caught my attention, but the Bulls already signed him up…maybe Michael Redd?

And it was over

12:43 am in Lakers, Loss, Playoffs by Wicked Chicken

Another season has come to an end and another opportunity to extend Kobe’s legacy wasted. Going into the series with Oklahoma City I didn’t expect the Lakers to come out on top. OKC has just too much fire power along with tenacious defenders that give relentless effort. The Thunder match up good with the Lakers with Perkins and Ibaka being able to hold their own against the Lakers bigs, and then having Sefalosha, Harden, and Durant to throw at Kobe. The Thunder were able to pack the paint and dare the inconsistent Lakers to shoot outside. This is how the Mavs beat the Lakers last year, and Boston beat them a few years back. The 3-point shooting for the Lakers is limited to Metta Ron Ron, Steve Blake, and Matt Barnes…hardly what you’d call real threats from deep especially when compared to Durant, Harden, and Westbrook.

In the end, the speed and tenacity proved too much for the Lakers. OKC was the team that looked poised down the stretch of close games instead of the seasoned Lakers. Although I believe the Lakers can beat the Thunder, they have to play perfect and bring their “A” game which they were never able to do for long stretches. So for now we’ll have to wait another summer and start the offseason trade chatter.

Lakers PG’s outplayed again

9:04 am in Lakers, Loss by Wicked Chicken

Once again the Lakers face a backup point guard that tears them apart. This time it was Earl Watson who dropped 11 dimes and eight points on 3-4 shooting in 26 minutes of play. This is better than the effort of Fisher, Goudelock, and Morris who combined for eight points on 3-13 and 3 assists in 50 minutes of play. In fact outside of the “Big Three” the entire rest of the team could only muster a measly 16 points.

Pau and Bynum put together a solid game but even with 26 points Kobe looked a bit off his normal “Mamba” self shooting 6-16 and only collecting one assist and one rebound while turning the ball over four times in 38 minutes of play.

An interesting tidbit to chew on is that Pau had 20 shot attempts while Kobe had 16. Guess Gasol is getting those touches he so desperately asked for and it’s working wonders.

Pau turns Drew into Allstar

12:36 am in Andrew Bynum, Lakers, Loss, Statistics by Wicked Chicken

And I’m not talking about Bynum or Goudelock. I’m talking about the 6’10″ power forward for the Bucks that scorched Pau Gasol all night long going 9-15 for 23 points. I’m talking about journeyman Drew Gooden who averages 9.4 points per game. Pau was a deer in headlights when matched up with Gooden as he continually blew right passed Pau off the dribble, and drained outside jumpers with Pau being too lazy to challenge.

Meanwhile, Gasol got his touches he so desperately asked for and shot a whopping 6-18 from the field. The Lakers also managed to be a negative 12 in the +/- stat when Pau was on the floor while they were a +3 when Bynum was in and a +1 when Kobe was in.

So how is it that Pau thinks he’s on the same level with Dwight Howard when he’s not even on the same level with Drew Gooden?

Chicken Nugget: Gasol wants more touches

11:02 pm in Andrew Bynum, Chicken Nugget, Trades by Wicked Chicken

In fact he even thinks he and Bynum are almost as good as Dwight Howard.

“As I mentioned the last game, Orlando goes to their interior game and I don’t think Dwight Howard is that much (more) talented than me and Andrew in the post.”

Really Pau? Have you been eating peyote with Phil lately? In what way do you think you are even remotely in the conversation with Dwight Howard? Let’s break down some stats from the most recent game between the Magic and Lakers.

Pau + Bynum: shot a combined 8-18 for a total of 23 points and 22 rebounds in 67 minutes of play.

Dwight Howard: shot 6-14 with 21 points and 23 rebounds in under 46 minutes of play.

I think it’s pretty obvious as shown in a direct matchup that Howard dominated this game and is better than Gasol and Bynum combined. Maybe he’ll get more touches in Orlando when the Lakers make the trade.

2012 NBA Player Rankings

5:31 pm in Lakers by Wilde Sage

As the 2011-12 season takes shape, it’s time to rank the best basketball players in the world. During the lockout, ESPN came up with a pseudo list to categorize the top players in the game. The problem? It was inaccurate. Why? It had little to do with basketball and more to do about nostalgia (Duncan and Nash), personal vendettas (Kobe and Melo), and hyping personal favorites (D-Wade and LeBron). Naturally, any list is likely to stir debate; however, the ESPN list was designed to reshape how the public views certain players—instead of actually ranking  players based on ability. To take a different approach, we constructed a list based on a player’s current ability along with a variety of intangible qualities that are difficult to quantify (such as a player’s ability to take over a game, convert field goals with a high degree of difficulty on a regular basis, etc.). So, let’s take a look at the league’s top 20 players in 2012:

20. Rudy Gay: A rising star on a rising team. With an $85 million contract, the Grizzlies are banking on him to climb higher in the rankings—and move his team deeper into the playoffs.

19. LaMarcus Aldridge: At 22.7 points a game Aldridge is blazing a trail of progress that keeps his stock rising in the Beaver State.

18. Andrew Bynum: Early in his career, Bynum was given a chance to start and went 8-8 from the floor against the New York Knicks. At that point, it was clear that Bynum had the tools to develop into a high level player. The problem? Phil Jackson decided to start Kwame Brown ahead of the young center until he was shipped out for Gasol. Today, Bynum is the second best center in the league—and he’s only getting better.

17: Monta Ellis: As the game’s third best shooting guard, it’s only fitting that Ellis breaks the top 20. After all, he averaged 24.1 points per game last year and is league’s seventh best scorer early into the 2012 season.

16. Rajon Rondo: Rondo controls tempo of the game and drops the rock in the right spot to an aging group of stars to keep the Celtics on the periphery of contention. If he ever gets a jumper, he might hurdle over a couple of the players ahead of him.

15. Chris Bosh: Although he’s not the best player on the Miami Heat roster, this 2008 US Olympic champion averaged 24.0 points per game in the year before he took his talents to South Beach. Now, he’s the second leading scorer on the team with 20.o points per game on 51% shooting.

14. Russel Westbrook: Westbrook is taking big strides in becoming a top tier player. If he continues to improve, look for him to join three other point guards to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic games in London.

13. Amare Stoudomire: Amare is a beast—and among the most underrated players in the game. With the evolution of Kevin Love’s game and the meteoric rise of Blake Griffin, however, one must wonder if Amare can crack the top 10 again.

12. Kevin Love: A rebounding machine becomes a lethal scorer and three-point threat? Question Kevin Love all you want, but 25.6 points a game and 14.3 points per game indicate he’s evolving into a legit superstar. As Ricky Rubio becomes more acclimated to the NBA game, get ready to watch these two become a dynamic tandem that propels the T-Wolves into the playoffs—someday.

11. Blake Griffin: There’s no limit to how high this guy can fly. Teamed with CP3, watch for the Clippers to take flight as Griffin continues to leap out of the building—and right into the postseason.

10. Derron Williams: D-Will is a franchise player looking to join another franchise player to get a ring. Will he get help from D-Howard or will head West to join the Black Mamba?

9. Dirk Nowitzki: The best shooting seven-footer in NBA history certainly cracks the top 10. After taking two months off and coming in slightly out of shape, however, he showed everyone how he lacks one of those intangibles qualities that keeps him from becoming a truly elite players. In other words, Kobe and LeBron hit the weight room over the summer while Dirk decided it was too taxing to prepare for the 2012 season. Did anyone spot Dirk and Pau kickin’ it on the beach in the Basque Coast during the lockout?

8. Carmelo Anthony: Who needs defense when you can score like Melo? Silky smooth on the offensive end and one of the game’s top three closers, Melo is clearly one of the game’s elite players.

7. Dwayne Wade: A top five player until D-Rose blossomed into a superstar and CP3 reminded everyone that he’s game’s best point guard. Nonetheless, D-Wade remains among the game’s top tier players—and is in a good position to lead the Miami Heat to the finals in 2012.

6. Chris Paul: With incredible court vision and blistering speed, there’s no one better at managing a game and getting easy baskets for his teammates. Now, he’s surrounded with real talent. As a result, watch CP3 move into the MVP conversation as the season moves forward.

5. Dwight Howard: There is no greater degree of separation among players at a particular position. The three-time defensive player of the year and perrennial MVP candidate makes the Magic a force in East—until his inevitable move to the Westside creates a seismic shift in the NBA landscape.

4. Derrick Rose: The reigning MVP is simply one of the best in the game. Like Kobe, D-Rose is one of the few players in the league whom is able to put a team on his back down the stretch and score from nearly anywhere on the floor—and he’s only 23 years old.

3. Kevin Durant: Durant’s game is quickly closing the gap on the two players ahead of him. Although the ESPN ranking failed to place him in the top five, the reality is that the reigning scoring champ might become the league’s most valuable by the end of the season.

2. LeBron James: LeBron is clearly the most athletic player in the NBA; however, there’s a difference from being the best athlete in the NBA and best basketball player in the world. Like Durant, LeBron is in a rare position to make it to the top of the list within a year after putting in off-season work to improve his game—and after watching his quick start to the season—the gap is smaller than ever. Now, he just needs to learn how to close games and win on the big stage.

1. Kobe Bryant: Last year, Kobe led the league in scoring per 48 minutes—despite coming off knee surgery and playing through a litney of nagging injuries. In 2012, Kobe still maintains superior footwork, better range, and a deeper of understanding of how to evolve his game than his contemporaries. In short, the NBA’s greatest assassin is the greatest all-around player in 2012. At 33-years old and a torn ligament in his shooting hand, Kobe Bryant is leading the league in scoring at 30.8 points per game, pacing the Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division

Kobe eclipses 40 again

12:51 am in Home, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Win by Wicked Chicken

For the third straight game Kobe has passed the 40 point mark by lighting up the Cavs with 42 points on 15-31 shooting in route to a Lakers victory. Bynum started out the game strong but gave everyone in Lakerland a major scare when he turned an ankle early in the first quarter. Luckily he played through it and finished with 15 points on 7-9 shooting, 11 boards, and three blocked shots. Pau Gasol probably had his best game so far this year putting in 19 points on 9-16 shooting, 10 rebounds, and four assists.

Matt Barnes continued his solid play with 15 points and timely cuts to the basket, while Derek Fisher ended up with an interesting 10 assists and two points (which he got on free throws from an intentional foul).

Outside of that, the bench was flat out horrible ending up with a total of four points for the game. The Lakers 19 point lead was chipped away and came as close as four points, but the Lakers held on with Kobe closing it out as only the Mamba does.

Oh, and I came across this on the interweb…

The golden hand

Flea talks a little Lakers

9:21 pm in Andrew Bynum, David Stern, Lakers, Trades by The Emperor

Self proclaimed Laker hater Bill Simmons interviewed Flea for his B.S. Report as they chat about “the trade,” Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, music, and other Lakers topics.

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Set the beast loose

12:31 am in Andrew Bynum, Home, Lakers, Trades, Win by Wicked Chicken

Finally Andrew Bynum is getting a chance. Finally there is no injury (fingers crossed). Finally Phil and his system aren’t handcuffing Bynum. Finally the Lakers have a coach that realizes that Andrew is more valuable than Pau and should be showcased as such.

Andrew Bynum has become a beast, he is without question the number two guy on the Lakers now. He’s gobbling up rebounds, he’s protecting the paint, and he’s wreaking havoc on the offensive end as opponents simply have no answer for Andrew’s size and skill set.

Bynum is legit. He is the only other center in the league within the same stratosphere as Dwight Howard and in many ways Andrew is better. I know there are many that want to ship Bynum and Pau off for Dwight Howard, but the center position is not the weak link in the Lakers lineup. The point guard position is where the Lakers need the most improvement and I think the logjam at small forward has enough talent to put together a package for an upgrade at point guard in a trade.

Is it me or does every single team in the league have a better point guard than the Lakers? Clearly Kyle Lowry was the best point guard on the floor tonight with 22 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. Last Sunday showcased Denver’s Ty Lawson tearing up the Lakers D in route to 17 points and 10 assists. I’m sure we’ll see Raymond Felton doing much of the same on Thursday when the Lakers face the Blazers in Portland.

Good news is Lakers got the win against Houston and looked good doing it. Kobe’s 37 points on 14-29 shooting was impressive, but Andrew Bynum’s dominance in the paint with 21 points, 22 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots was inspiring. Keep feeding the beast.

Second verse same as the first

11:33 pm in Injury, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Loss, Preseason by Wicked Chicken

Well, not quite as bad, but that 3rd quarter was a near xerox of their previous matchup.

The good part was the Lakers came out looking solid even without Kobe in the lineup. I really liked seeing Devin Ebanks out there. He has been by far the small forward for the Lakers thus far going 4-6 for eight points in in 12 minutes of play. I’m not exactly sure why coach Brown didn’t give him more playing time because none of the other small forwards did a damn thing.

Steve Blake also got hot which was nice to see going 6-9 with 20 points. Andrew Bynum was by far the best player for the Lakers as he was an absolute beast in the first half. Bynum finished with 26 points on 11-15 shooting plus 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

On the bad side the Lakers turned the ball over 21 times, four of them by Matt Barnes in only 11 minutes of play. Troy Murphy has a nice shot but can’t play a lick of defense and Blake Griffin had an absolute field day with Troy on his way to 30 points. The Lakers new high flying guard acquisition Gerald Green looked absolutely lost out there turning the ball over once, committing two personal fouls, and scoring zero points in 7 and a half minutes of play. But best of all he anchored the team in the +/- stat with a negative 14.

Metta World Peace showed slight improvement from his previous exhibition as he actually made couple buckets going 4-13 this contest instead of getting completely shut out. Rookie guard Andrew Goudelock had a tough time for the early part of game but eventually settled in and hit a few shots going 3-5 from three point land in route to nine points. This team actually has a few shooters with Kopono, Murphy, and Goudelock so if they can improve on their offensive execution this Laker team should be able to space the floor better and be more potent from the outside than last years team.

So with a broken Kobe, a suspended Bynum, and an unsettled roster, the Lakers enter the first game of the season on Christmas day. Break out the eggnog.