Welcome to the 2006-07 NBA Pacific Bloggers Roundtable. Here's the jist in as few words as possible: We rounded up a blogger for each team in the division. We discussed the division. We're posting the results. Easy, right?
Representing Phoenix, we have Lucas from The Rising Suns. Speaking on the Lakers, we have the familiar-to-you-by-now Kurt from Forum Blue & Gold. From Clipper blogdom, we have Kevin from ClipperBlog. Straight outta Oaktown, Justin from Golden State of Mind is the Warriors expert. And I'm Tom. I run Sactown Royalty, which is the site you are currently visiting. (Unless, of course, you are reading via an RSS reader or some other such contraption. In that case, hi.)
Without any further adieu, here's Part I of the Roundtable, with a special focus on the player shifting within the Pacific this offseason. Golden State of Mind will have the second piece tomorrow, and the week will continue with one part posted on a participant's blog each day. Enjoy.
Tom: Vlad Radmanovic goes from the Clippers to the Lakers, Tim Thomas goes from the Suns to the Clippers, Marcus Banks almost goes to the Lakers but ends up with the Suns, Eric Musselman follows up Golden State by going to the Kings, Don Nelson is thought to be headed to the Kings but goes to Golden State, John Salmons almost goes to the Suns but ends up with the Kings. It's kind of incestuous here on the West Coast.
So, who was the most important new addition (not New Edition - that'd clearly be Ricky Bell) in the Pacific, players and coaches alike?
Lucas: That is a really tough question because I don't feel that any of the players will help their team win significantly more games. I really like Phoenix's acquisition of Marcus Banks and Jumaine Jones. I feel that Marcus is on the verge of a breakout year and he brings a defensive presence that is much needed at our point guard position. I also think Jumaine will have a great year and give us what Tim Thomas did, athleticism, shooting and an inside presence, but hopefully he is more consistant. I will say that Marcus Banks is our best addition and he may become our point guard of the future. It seems like he really wants it and he will really work for it and those players tend to have career years in Phoenix. Plus it will save some wear and tear on Nash and help limit his minutes. We will also have a killer second unit guard tandem of Banks and the Brazilian Blur which will be enjoyable to say the least. I think our offseason was better than I had ever hoped for. I think we are extremely deep and those players who want it the most will get their minutes. D'Antoni's moustache is worth 3 wins in itself.
Next I like the Don Nelson signing and I really think it will help immediately but not long term. Coaches are boring so I'll move on.
The Laker pickup of Vlad is going to be great for them and probably help them a lot. It gives them a solid outside shooter and another rebounder. What I think Vlad will help the most for the team though is someone who will step up and take a shot. Last year it seemed that everybody was afraid of shooting because of Kobe. As if they were intimidated. This is not good because Kobe will get a lot of shots anyway you don't need to help him get MORE shots. I think Vlad will help balance out the team a bit. I think Farmar is a solid upgrade at point guard too. I see him as a poor man's Steve Nash who will play smart and distribute. He is a much better addition than Smush. I still think the Lakers are lacking a solid interior threat as Kwame doesn't seem to develop, Lamar is great from the outside but defers to Kobe too much, and Vlad is an outside guy too. If they can get Vlad and Lamar to play inside more, they will be dangerous. Lamar is REALLY good and if he steps up like he did in the playoffs, the sky's the limit. I think Vlad may help with his confidence too and if Lamar, Vlad, and Kobe play more balanced with Farmar playing smart and not too flashy they can get much better.
Tim Thomas to the Clips isn't a significant upgrade but he fills the gap that Vlad left. I think Thomas' production will go down from what he did on the Suns in the Clips system. He will probably fit in since he is pals with Cassell but he is very inconsistant. The Suns were on course for another 62-win season last season with Kurt Thomas, after he went down and they got Tim Thomas we were a .500 club. If he continues to work on his game and take it seriously he can be very good but I don't think that will ever happen. Even still, the Clips now have a year of post season experience which should help them more than the Tim Thomas signing. If he wasn't so inconsistant and unfocused Tim would be KILLER from the outside. The Suns employed Tim as their main big but he would sit at the perimeter and that would draw the other teams best post guy out, or it would leave Tim open for the open bucket. It was a pretty unorthodox, yet devastating , gameplan but I don't see the ever Clips running it. The Suns only did it out of necessity.
Kurt: Here's the thing about Vlad in the Laker system -- the threat of his outside shot is as valuable as the shot itself. To borrow something author Roland Lazenby said, Vlad can fill the Steve Kerr role in the triangle. He can hit the outside shot, you know he can hit it if you leave him open, so you have to keep a man in his vicinity. That's one more guy that can't collapse on Kobe or Odom on the drive, or one guy who is slow in the rotation and leaves another guy with an open shot. It's just one more weapon you have to cover and, as the triangle is all about spacing, you can't cover everyone.
Now, let's not discuss what Vlad does to the Lakers already questionable perimeter defense. He is far more effective as a post defender.
Tim Thomas many not be Vlad, but the Clips don't need him to be. He can play fewer minutes, get those minutes against subs most of the time and put up decent numbers. He's a solid player giving them depth.
I love what the Suns did this off-season -- Nash, Banks and Barbosa gives you three fast and dangerous open-court guys with the ball. Jumaine Jones is good at finding space and can bury the spot-up jumper (particularly the three, he did a lot of that for the Lakers when they ran Rudy T.'s inside-out offense) and he will get plenty of chances in the open court. Banks and Jones are both defensive upgrades as well.
The thing is, with all three of those teams (Lakers, Clips and Suns) I think the improvement of players in the system already will be more important than any additions.
Remember, Part II - with lots of comments on the division's two new coaches - is up tomorrow at Golden State of Mind.