|ESPN.com: Los Angeles Lakers||[Print without images]|
"...Some of the credit should go to swapping Trevor Ariza out for Ron Artest. Though the former has a solid defensive reputation, Basketball Prospectus' statistics show Artest holding opponents 8.8 percent below their usual production. By contrast, they were 7.3 percent better against Ariza..."Performances like the one Artest delivered against the Pistons Sunday night crystallize the impact he has on the team around him. Ron Ron was handsy handsy, knocking balls away from Pistons players or chasing the rock on the sidelines. The energy was impressive, particularly given the context- second night of a back-to-back, at the end of a long roadie. Between all that, he's still a massive physical presence on the wing and inside.
"...the Lakers have been hurt by Derek Fisher's shooting slump. Their starting point guard, who struggled in the postseason before coming up with two key shots in the late stages of a Game 4 win, is hitting just 31.7 percent from beyond the arc after making 39.7 percent and 40.6 percent the previous two seasons. Ordinarily, this would be something of a positive sign in that Fisher could be expected to rebound, but given his age (35) and the extended period Fisher has been misfiring, this might be his true level at this point.
The bench has been another culprit... with Sasha Vujacic apparently unable to fix a glitch in The Machine, the Lakers are short on scoring punch off the pine even with (Lamar) Odom (struggling himself this season) back as a sixth man. Shannon Brown, who has followed up his strong postseason by giving the Lakers good minutes replacing Vujacic as the backup shooting guard, is the only reserve with a True Shooting Percentage better than league average (and then only barely so, 54.8 percent as compared to 53.9 percent for the NBA as a whole)..."
"... (Pau) Gasol has a 63.1 percent True Shooting Percentage this year and is grabbing a career-high 19.4 percent of available rebounds. On a per-minute basis, he rates fourth in the league by Win%.
So how is it then that Gasol is using less of the Lakers' possessions than an average player? His 19.4 percent usage rate is the lowest of his career, down slightly from last year's 20.5 percent and the 21.2 percent of the team's possessions he used after being traded to the Lakers in 2007-08. This is partially the reality of having a balanced lineup around Bryant, who remains efficient while using 33.8 percent of the team's possessions. No other Laker is above a 21 percent usage rate, but Gasol has earned the right to be more of a clear second option on offense, and the team could do well to find him more shots..."