Two great stories up today from around the Webosphere. First, ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin (that's @mcten to you and me) breaks down Chuck Person's front-and-center role in L.A.'s defensive improvement, ushering in the adjustments they've made on that side of the ball. He details the way Andrew Bynum has bought into the system, as well:
"But something changed for the sixth-year center when he approached Lakers head coach Phil Jackson to talk following a film session at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo a couple weeks back.
"He felt he was inactive and he wasn't active enough and he needed to be more active on the defensive end," Jackson said before the Lakers practiced in Atlanta on Monday. "We didn't talk about the offense at all. I told him the difference between us being a good club and a great club is his presence on the floor defensively and rebounding. Andrew's a smart kid, he understands that."Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person sold Jackson on changing the team defense this season to keep Bynum in the lane on the defensive end, rather than amble out to the perimeter to help out guards contending with pick-and-rolls.
"He's a plug," Jackson said. "He's in there stopping penetration."
It's a great read, as is this post from Darius Soriano at Forum Blue and Gold, revisiting the signing of Steve Blake. While Soriano doesn't sugarcoat some of Blake's shortcomings, he makes an outstanding point about how his presence has changed the complexion of the second unit:
"In his last year as a Laker, Farmar had a usage rate of 19 (4th highest on the team). That number was nearly equal to Bynum and [Pau] Gasol and was higher than [Lamar] Odom and [Ron] Artest. Meanwhile, this season, Blake has a usage of 11.5 (of the Lakers 9 rotation players, Blake ranks 9th). The player who’s benefitted most from that decrease in usage on the 2nd unit is Lamar Odom – a player much more talented than Farmar (or Blake) and a guy that also happens to be having the best year of his career. I don’t see this as a coincidence considering that LO is a guy who is very comfortable with the ball and also someone that thrives as an initiator on offense. Who would you rather taking shots and setting up teammates, Farmar or Odom? Yeah, me too."
It's an outstanding point, and a great reminder of how a player's impact can't simply be measured by numbers, but the way in which he fits with the guys around him. Last season, Odom struggled to find his place on the floor following the arrival of Artest, and his play suffered. This year, Blake's presence has changed the dynamic, even if his production isn't what people (myself included) hoped. There's value in taking an expansive view.