Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hollinger Lakers Profiles: Analysis of Every Lakers Player

Scouting report
+ Genius pick-and-roll operator who shreds defenses with passes from either hand.
+ One of the best outside shooters in history. Burns any defense playing under screens.
+ Takes charges, but a mediocre defender because of limited lateral quickness.

So, which amazing Nash stat would you like to see first? Let's start with shooting, which remains the most underrated part of his game. Nash led all point guards in true shooting percentage, again, and in 2-point shooting percentage, again, and led the league in shooting on midrange jumpers, again.

He was first from outside 10 feet, but the more amazing feat came in the longest 2s, outside 16 feet. There he shot 53.8 percent , lapping the rest of the league in this category … even though as a point guard he was taking nearly all these shots off the dribble (the other leaders were all bigger players shooting them off the catch).

Top shooters from 16-23 feet, 2011-12
Player Team FG%
Steve Nash Phx 53.8
Dirk Nowitzki Dal 50.3
Jared Dudley Phx 49.4
Jason Smith NO 48.1
Brandon Bass Bos 48.0
Min. 150 attempts. Source:

Nash shot the ball less and turned it over more than in previous seasons, offering a slight glimpse into the possibility that at age 38 he might be losing effectiveness. Might. He was also fourth in pure point rating, shot 39.0 percent on 3s (a shot he actually should take more, and might, in L.A.) and despite all the worries about his health in 2011-12, Nash missed eight games or fewer for the 11th straight season.

However, he's taking the low-risk thing to extremes at the defensive end. Nash had, by far, the lowest foul rate in basketball, committing just 53 the entire season. He also had the lowest steal rate among point guards, and while he takes the occasional charge, he spent most of the season hidden away against non-scorers while Ronnie Price or Grant Hill covered any threatening point guard. Given the personnel in L.A., it will be more difficult for him to take that approach.

Scouting report
+ Devastating post-up guard who makes midrange jumpers over the top of defenses.
+ Excellent ball handler for his size. Sees floor, can create and finish. Natural scorer.
+ Smart defender but his intensity fluctuates. Rarely asked to defend good players.

Bryant led the NBA in usage rate by a wide margin and very nearly led it in points per minute as well, finishing a 10th of a point behind Kevin Durant in points per 40 minutes -- an amazing feat for a player age 33. Bryant looked spry coming out of the lockout in particular, racking up four straight 40-point games in January. However, he cooled off considerably the rest of the way, most notably while shooting 38.7 percent in March. He was in the top five in player efficiency rating (PER) in the first half of the season but finished 17th.

Usage Rate Leaders, 2011-12

Player Team Usage Rate
Kobe Bryant LAL 33.0
Russell Westbrook OKC 30.4
Derrick Rose Chi 30.4
Deron Williams Nets 29.8
LeBron James Mia 29.8
Min. 500 minutes

All this points to a potential hurdle ahead: As Bryant gets older, he inevitably needs to take on a reduced offensive role, but might be reluctant to do so. The additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard only accelerate this discussion; iso-ing Kobe now looks to be the third-best option after a Nash pick-and-roll and a Gasol-to-Howard high-low.

Bryant can still fill it up, of course, and fairly efficiently. He hit 41.4 percent on long 2s while taking more than 11 a game (!), converted 66.2 percent at the rim and still drew a free throw for every three field goal attempts (12th among shooting guards) thanks to all his assorted shot fakes. And in his defense, the Lakers had one perimeter player who could create a shot -- Bryant -- so if the post game broke down, he needed to create.

That said, he could spread the wealth a little more. Bryant finished 51st out of 61 shooting guards in pure point rating, and his high turnover ratio was a sign of how much more often he's working in tight spaces -- mostly on midrange post-ups -- than earlier in his career.

He also needs to chill on the iso 3-pointers. Bryant can make them off the catch and likely will have more opportunities to do so next season, but he took nearly five triples a game in 2011-12 and made only 30.3 percent.

Bryant's annual All-Defense selections make a mockery of the idea that head coaches are actually doing the voting. He picks his spots and rarely has to guard good wings. Nobody would place him among the league's elite stoppers. That said, he's still effective. The Lakers allowed 2.7 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court and he held opposing shooting guards to a 12.8 PER. He's also a strong rebounder who ranked in the top quarter of all shooting guards and was able to generate solid rates of blocks and steals while preserving a very low foul rate.

Scouting report
+ Elite one-on-one wing defender with quick hands, superior strength and good feet.
+ Has lost a step and can't jump at all. Struggles chasing through screens.
+ Very poor finisher. Poor shot selection. Can make corner 3s.

It was like two different seasons for World Peace, who had an absolutely brutal start (4.7 ppg on 33.5 percent shooting in first half of the season) before a very strong finishing kick in which he averaged 14.1 points in April.

But on a meta level (sorry), he ended up with virtually identical stats to his 2010-11 campaign. The most important of those, as always, were on the defensive end -- he had strong Synergy numbers, held opposing small forwards to an 11.8 PER, and the Lakers gave up 1.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court.

Offensively, there's more reason for concern. World Peace made only 29.6 percent of his 3s on the season, and even in his late-season surge he still struggled from deep. While his 60.1 percent mark in the paint is encouraging -- he's struggled as a finisher there in the past -- his most important role is as a corner 3-point shooter, and he failed in that.

Lowest Average Assist Quality, 2011-12
Player Team Assist Quality
Metta World Peace LAL .503
Sundiata Gaines Nets .520
Blake Griffin LAC .521
Kevin Martin Hou .522
Jordan Farmar Nets .524
League average .667
Source: Min. 100 assists

World Peace is a sneaky good ball handler who ranked fourth among small forwards in pure point rating, but there might be less here than meets the eye. According to my research on assist quality, World Peace's assists were the least valuable of any player who had at least a hundred dimes, adding an average of just .566 points to the Laker bottom line.

Scouting report
+ Long, highly skilled post scorer with excellent dexterity and 18-foot range.
+ Smart player, sees floor well. Can make jump hook with either hand.
+ Blocks shots but lacks strength and can be bullied on blocks. Good rebounder.

The impression was that the Lakers forgot about Gasol last season as they sought to feed Andrew Bynum, but his usage rate hardly budged. What really happened is Gasol was forced to search out shots from the perimeter since Bynum was in his preferred perch on the left block.

Gasol took more than six long 2s a game and fewer shots inside 10 feet; he even dabbled with the corner 3, compiling 28 tries. To his credit, Gasol hit 44.2 percent of his long 2s a stellar percentage -- but the toll of all those J's on his overall shooting percentage was inevitable. He also earned a career-low four free throw attempts per game.

Gasol is a great high-low passer, though, who ranked fourth among power forwards in pure point rating, and Bynum allowed him to show off those skills repeatedly. One can only imagine what he might do with Dwight Howard in those sets. Nonetheless, this is a suboptimal usage of Gasol's talents and was one of the reasons most Laker trade speculation centered on him.

Gasol's less recognized talent is that he's always on the floor. Only one power forward had a lower foul rate, and Gasol has good stamina. As a result, he played more than 37 minutes a game for a fourth straight season -- vital considering how paper-thin L.A.'s frontcourt depth was a year ago. In four full seasons as a Laker, he's missed just 19 games.

Defensively, Gasol isn't quite a natural at either frontcourt spot but is more comfortable at the 4. The exception is when he has to guard face-up 4s who can handle the ball; guys like Al Harrington just kill him. His large on-court vs. off-court differential isn't surprising given the wasteland L.A. had behind him, but he also had a strong Synergy rating and opponent data on Subjectively, his length is more of a plus and his lack of strength less of an issue at the 4, and against most opponents he has the dexterity to play the position.

Scouting report
+ Dominant physical force who overpowers foes with strength and athleticism.
+ Awesome defensive player. Blocks shots, covers pick-and-roll and owns boards.
+ Can make short-range banks and hooks, but post game lacks refinement.

Here's how good Howard is: Even coasting through the season while pushing for a trade and his coach's removal, he was still probably the best center in the league. Clearly his defensive effort was not at its usual level, but he almost can't help but be dominating on that end given his size and mobility. In addition to the blocks and rebounds, he was ninth among centers in steals per minute. Howard still got top-notch grades from Synergy, and the Magic gave up 6.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court.

Howard also led the NBA in defensive rebound rate and finished second overall, a pretty amazing accomplishment considering he's not a specialist in this category like, say, Reggie Evans or Marcus Camby.
Defensive Rebound Rate Leaders, 2011-12
Player Team Def. Rebound Rate
Dwight Howard Orl 33.1
Marcus Camby Por/Hou 32.7
Aaron Gray Tor 28.3
Tim Duncan SA 28.2
Anderson Varejao Cle 26.8
Min. 500 minutes

A left-block post player, Howard passed out of the post and found shooters much better than before, resulting in a career-low turnover ratio, although it still yielded one of the worst pure point ratings in basketball. Alas, his foul shooting remains a huge weakness. Howard had one of the highest foul rates in basketball but converted only 49.1 percent from the stripe, dragging down his TS%.

When he wasn't fouled, Howard was a force, shooting 74.4 percent at the rim. He took nearly as many shots from 3 to 9 feet and shot a respectable 41.5 percent from that range. He still isn't a graceful post player, and one can fairly argue that doubling him is just playing into his hands, but he's slowly getting the hang of those little hooks and bank shots.


Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PTS   13.7
REB   4.2
AST   1.4
PER   11.5
(Stats are per 40 minutes)

Scouting report
+ Shooting specialist who excels at trailing for transition 3s. Money from the line.
+ A bit undersized for the 2 and an average athlete but very solid defensively.
+ Good at up-faking for fouls. Rarely fouls on D. Low-mistake specialist.

Meeks had a bit of a setback in his third season, as his 3-point shot wasn't nearly as deadly (36.5 percent) and his free throw rate plummeted. As an offensive specialist, this was not welcome news and resulted in losing his starting job. While Meeks had the lowest turnover ratio of any shooting guard, he wasn't asked to do a whole lot -- only three shooting guards had a lower usage rate -- and that role requires an exceptional TS%. His 55.1 mark didn't cut it.

For a specialist, however, Meeks did the other things pretty well. His 46.8 percent mark on 2s was above the average for his position, he draws some fouls and he's not a bad rebounder. Defensively he was solid, as well. While he's a bit undersized for the 2, the Sixers gave up 1.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court and opposing shooting guards mustered only an 11.1 PER against him according to; Synergy also rated Meeks as an above-average defender.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PTS   14.1
REB  12.6
AST   1.2
PER   15.1
(Stats are per 40 minutes)

Scouting report
+ High-energy "4.5" who can make plays near the rim but lacks strength and ball skills.
+ Runs floor well and can make short-range Js. Can score in post in mismatches.
+ Outstanding rebounder. Struggles defensively and fouls too much. Blocks shots.

Hill enjoyed a breakout third season, focusing on using his athleticism to get to the boards and ranking a surprising eighth among centers in overall rebound rate and seventh on the defensive glass. Second shots also helped him on the offensive end; he can't get to the rim on his own steam and struggles to make shots from outside the basket area (37.0 percent last season), but he got enough putbacks and free throws to post a respectable shooting percentage.

Hill still fouls too much -- once every 7.8 minutes last season -- but that represented a big improvement on his first two seasons, and it appears he's learned better how to accommodate for his nightly strength disadvantage. Nonetheless, he can be manhandled by bigger centers and his overall defensive numbers remain fairly ugly -- opposing centers had a 20.3 PER at his expense, according to, and Houston gave up 3.1 more points per 100 possessions with him on the court (nearly all Hill's regular-season minutes last season came as a Rocket).

Despite his defensive shortcomings, Hill is a useful player if he rebounds the way he did last season, and can take another step forward by establishing a bit more consistency with his 12- to 15-foot jumper. If he can convert that shot at a 40 percent clip and provide some offensive spacing, he'll be one of the league's better backup 5s.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PTS   17.6
REB   7.1
AST   2.4
PER   13.3
(Stats are per 40 minutes)

Scouting report
+ Clever scorer with a quick release off the catch. Rarely dribbles. Has 3-point range.
+ Lazy defender who hardly bothers helping from the weak side. Undersized, too.
+ A tweener size-wise. Rebounding has dwindled. Rarely turns it over.

Apparently Jamison will keep scoring a point every two minutes with a microscopic turnover ratio until he's 90. At age 35 he suffered a career low in shooting percentage, but otherwise you'd have a hard time differentiating last season from any of the previous 10. Jamison shot 62.8 percent in the basket area and 34.1 percent on 3s, both right about where you'd expect, and had some of the best ballhandling numbers of his career -- the fifth-lowest turnover ratio among power forwards and a solid assist ratio.

Unfortunately, his midrange J completely went south. He made only 28.5 percent of his 2s beyond 10 feet and he takes a ton of these -- more than five a game last season. With that dragging down his percentages, Jamison was just 62nd among power forward in TS% and 61st in 2-point shooting.

And he has to be a top-notch offensive player because his defense is just pathetic. Jamison doesn't foul, but that's because he's barely trying; few bigs are as unplugged from the game when on the weak side as he is. Jamison rated below the league average on Synergy and permitted an 18.0 PER to opposing power forwards, according to, while having one of the worst rebound rates at his position.

But his real carnage comes in team defense; with his indifference pairing with Kyrie Irving's inexperience, the Cavs were about the worst pick-and-roll defense in captivity. Cleveland gave up 10.0 more points per 100 possessions with Jamison on the court last season, a trend that's been ongoing for several years.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
(Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season)
Scouting report
+ Thin, long-armed small forward who can handle the ball. Must add strength.
+ Aggressive, high-IQ performer who willingly defends and rebounds well.
+ Can score near the basket but must improve his outside shot.

Ebanks earned 12 starts last season because of his defensive ability, but to stick as a rotation player, he'll need to show more at the offensive end. Ebanks is athletic enough to finish plays on fast breaks or when fed near the rim, but he made only 16 of his 52 tries outside the basket area, none of which were 3-pointers. He drew fouls at a strong clip, but overall mustered only 8.9 points per 40 minutes with a poor TS%. He'll need to do better to stick in the league.

The Lakers had Ebanks spotting up for 2s from the corner from 18 to 20 feet, and he showed some success in that range. But it's still a low-value shot; if he can extend the shot to the corner, he has better chance of producing enough offense to stay on the floor. If he does so, the positives are clear: He's an athletic wing who rebounds and plays solid, dogged defense.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PTS   7.2
REB   2.9
AST   5.8
PER   7.8
(Stats are per 40 minutes)

Scouting report
+ Limited, low-mistake point guard who rarely attacks the paint. Good court vision.
+ Mediocre defender. Tall and competitive, but lacks strength and foot speed.
+ Strictly spots up for 3s offensively. Doesn't push the tempo or draw fouls.

The first one you could write off as a bad season, perhaps. But after two in a row, it's getting increasingly difficult to justify Blake's continued presence in the Lakers' rotation. His main role is as a long-distance sniper, yet his TS% has been below the league average in both seasons in L.A. Last season he averaged just 8.9 points per 40 minutes and hit only 33.5 percent of his 3s -- that just won't get it done.

Again, Blake put virtually no pressure on the defense, earning only 27 free throw attempts and making eight -- yes, eight -- shots in the basket area the entire season. Despite that, he was far too turnover-prone, ranking just 55th among point guards in turnover ratio, with traps being a particular vulnerability. Adding to the misery, he had one of the worst rebound rates in the league.

Defensively, Blake's length made him more helpful, especially in the Lakers' low-risk, shoot-over-the-top-of-us system. Opposing point guards had a 13.8 PER against him, and the Lakers defended slightly better with Blake on the court.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PTS    7.6
REB   3.1
AST   5.1
PER   8.2
(Stats are per 40 minutes)

Scouting report
+ Spot-up shooting point guard who mostly plays setup role. Rarely attacks.
+ Struggles mightily against ball pressure. Wildly turnover prone.
+ Solid, low-risk defender. Average at best athletically but gets to right spots.

A point guard in name only, Duhon can scarcely get the ball across half court these days. His turnover ratio was the second-worst among point guards, an incredible achievement given he got only 40 shots at the rim the entire season. In other words, he was staying out of the paint and still couldn't hang on to the ball. One shudders to think what might have happened if he attacked.

Duhon did hit 42.0 percent of his 3s, but he shot so rarely that he averaged only 7.7 points per 40 minutes. Basically, even with a complete outlier on 3-pointers, he was an abysmal offensive player.

He retains some value on defense, with decent lateral movement and technique and the advantage of experience. Synergy rated him above average last season, and the Magic gave up 5.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court. According to, opposing point guards had just a 12.9 PER against him. The defense gives him a smidgen of value as an end-of-quarter specialist, but it doesn't come close to offsetting the carnage he inflicts on his team's offense.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PTS   8.7
REB  8.9
AST   1.3
PER   8.6
(Stats are per 40 minutes)

Scouting report
+ Lean, long combo forward with defensive talent. Can run and finish.
+ Good handle for his size but a terrible offensive player. Can't shoot and has bad instincts.
+ Mostly shoots jumpers. Needs to add strength and get to rim. Tweener.

Clark looks like he could be an NBA defender, but he's having trouble converting his potential into results. At times he looked fantastic and he had some great blocks, but in between the highlights there just weren't enough results. Every indicator is strongly negative: Synergy rated him the third-worst defender in the league with at least 200 plays defended, opposing power forwards rang up a 17.3 PER against him according to and the Magic gave up 4.1 more points per 100 possessions with him on the court.

One might suspect this is partly a Dwight Howard effect -- Clark almost never played with Howard -- but checking on's advanced stats tool, Clark actually made Howard's on-court numbers worse. Subjectively, I'd say Clark is better than his numbers -- he was fourth among power forwards in blocks per minute -- but it strains logic to argue he was particularly good last season.

And if he can't defend, he can't play, because the dude is just brutal offensively. Clark shot 27.0 percent outside the basket area, and that's where most of his shots came from. Among power forwards, he was in the bottom three in 2-point percentage, field goal percentage, TS% and PER. He also had one of the worst turnover ratios at his position.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
(Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season)
Scouting report
+ Big point guard with deep shooting range. Struggles to penetrate and create.
+ Defensive liability against quick guards. Size, strength helpful closer to the basket.

Advertised as a point guard coming out of college, Goudelouck mostly played as a spot-up 2 in small lineups for the Lakers. Certainly he can shoot, making 37.1 percent of his 3s, but he wasn't quite deadly enough to offset his other weaknesses. Namely, he just can't create anything on his own. Goudelouck converted only 40.8 percent of his 2s, drew a mere 12 free throws and amazingly had only one basket at the rim the entire season. Additionally, he had a comically low assist ratio for a guard, at just 1.9 per 40 minutes.

Goudelouck proved nothing special at the defensive end, either; while it's tough to draw definite conclusions out of limited minutes, subjectively he seems a bit slow for the point and undersized for the 2. None of which will matter if he can't create more offensively, because his main selling point as a player is his long-range shooting. He'll need to convert in the 40s from downtown and get to the rim at least once a fortnight to stick in the league.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
(Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season)
Scouting report
+ Tall point guard with good handle and vision. Still learning his position.
+ Poor outside shooter. Can finish at basket but not an explosive athlete.
+ Slender frame, will need to add strength. Length a plus on defense.

Morris' rookie season was more encouraging than his 5.22 PER suggests, as he showed some NBA-level skills but was undone by a shaky jumper and an absurdly high turnover ratio.

Given the small sample, and the fact that high turnover ratios by rookies often precede great improvement, he's worth keeping an eye on going forward. He has to shoot better, because averaging just 10.9 points per 40 minutes while not spacing the floor isn't acceptable, but mostly he has to cut the turnovers --19 in just 170 minutes, or more than one for every basket he made. Morris was a late convert to the point and is just 21 years old, so we shouldn't rush to judgment, but he'll need to show some progress in Year 2.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
(Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season)
Scouting report
+ Long-armed, lefty wing with deep shooting range. Strong, energetic defender.
+ Undersized for a 2 but lacks ball skills for a 1. Not a great finisher or leaper.

Johnson-Odom is potentially a perfect end-of-rotation guy -- he plays extremely hard and competes defensively and he can make an open jump shot, so coaches have no fear about inserting him into a game.

Beyond that, the ceiling gets low. Like, "Being John Malkovich" low. He's an undersized 2 who can't play the point, he doesn't have the elite scoring skills of some other undersized wings and his athletic numbers as a collegian are pretty tame -- he rarely blocks shots, for instance, and has a poor rebound rate. He might stick on a roster for half a decade anyway, however, because coaches love having guys like this at the end of their bench.

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections
PER   N/A]
(Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season)

Scouting report
+ Long big man who can score around the basket. Poor rebounder for his size.
+ "B" athlete. Slow and needs to add strength. Raw offensive game.

Sacre is old for a rookie at 23 and had a very poor rebound rate for a player of his size, but I'm still talking myself into this pick. He drew a ton of fouls around the basket and shot 76 percent from the line, and his length should make him at least somewhat useful at the defensive end. Those are the glimmers of hope one sorts through at the end of the second round. He might be able to give L.A. 10 good minutes a game off the bench.

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