5 Potential Solutions to Los Angeles Lakers’ Obvious Small Forward Problem

The Los Angeles Lakers face a number of problems this season, not the least of which is a lack of quality depth at nearly every position.

Minus a quality starting center, Lakers management loaded up on power forwards with the hope that Jordan Hill, Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre would address that deficiency. Teams are still destroying the Lakers in the paint.

That left a gaping hole at small forward, despite the presence of starter Wesley Johnson and super sub Nick Young. In Johnson, the Lakers have a 27-year-old former first-round draft pick who continues to underperform, most notably on offense.

So far in 13 games, Johnson has spent 32 minutes on the court, scoring less than eight points per game. His 26.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc is the worst of his five-year career.

Having Nick Young back has helped strengthen the bench, especially on offense. In his first two games following rehab on his injured thumb, Swaggy P averaged 16.5 points on 48 percent shooting in 28 minutes.

By his third game, however, Young disappeared, scoring just five points in 19 minutes against the Mavs.

After Johnson and Young, the small forward cupboard looks pretty bare. The Lakers do have Xavier Henry, but he’s been a non-factor who was injured to start the year and has offered little.

In fact, there is reason to believe if and when the Lakers make a roster move, it will be Henry who gets the pink slip.

Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding wrote earlier this week:

No massive talent upgrade is coming, though if 6’9″ forward Quincy Miller fares well in a tryout this week, expect to see him replace Xavier Henry on the team. Miller, who turns 22 on Tuesday and has rare upside despite no sense of how to reach it after two years with the Denver Nuggets, would at least give the Lakers a little more youth and hope in Julius Randle’s absence.

With a recently awarded $1.5 million Disabled Player Exception (DPE) as compensation for Randle’s broken leg, the Lakers have until March 10 to sign or trade for someone to fill that roster spot. 

The pickings are slim, but the Lakers are mining for any help they can get.

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Miami Heat: Two key points to consider moving forward

In South Beach, the Miami Heat currently sit in second place in the Southeast Division with a 6-5 record. Now, looking across the NBA, there are other teams with far more talent than the Heat who sit in a record lower or worse than the Heat. Here’s the issue at hand. When LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland, many thought the Heat would no longer be competitive or legit playoff contender this year. Even with the newest additions through the offseason, many fans sat on the edge of their seats prior to the opening of this season. However, thus far, head Erik Spoelstra has been able to construct a team of players who have a great chance to make an impact in the Eastern Conference this year, despite losing their star in LeBron James.
Again, at 6-5, if the playoffs started today, the Heat would sit at the sixth seed playing Chicago as the fifth seed. What may seem a little bit far-fetched this early in the season, it is evident the pressure will be on the Miami Heat as to whether or not they will have a

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Suns forward P.J. Tucker suspended by team (Yahoo Sports)

BOSTON (AP) — Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker has been suspended for violating team rules.

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Florida forward has hairline fracture in hand (Yahoo Sports)

Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) goes for two points with William & Mary guard Greg Malinowski (5) unable to stop the move during the first half of NCAA College basketball in Gainesville, FL, Friday, Nov., 14, 2014. Florida defeated William & Mary 68-45.m (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith has a hairline fracture in his left, non-shooting hand.


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Pittsburgh forward Johnson suspended for season (Yahoo Sports)

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2014, file photo, Pittsburgh's NCAA college basketball head coach Jamie Dixon takes questions during the school's annual media day in Pittsburgh. Dixon believes Pitt will score points. His biggest concern is whether the Panthers will stop anybody as they prepare for their second season in the ACC. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh junior forward Durand Johnson has been suspended for the entire 2014-15 season, with no reason given.


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Hornets forward Kidd-Gilchrist out 2 games (Yahoo Sports)

The Hornets have announced that forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will miss next two games of their West Coast road trip with a right foot injury.

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Hawks moving forward, trying to appeal to fanbase

Hawks trying to keep the fans they have and attract new ones

      
 

 

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Updates on Indiana Forward Devin Davis After Being Injured in Car Accident

Indiana University basketball forward Devin Davis is in serious condition after being struck by a car driven by teammate Emmitt Holt.

According to Sabrina Adams of Fox 59, the incident occurred Friday night, and Davis was taken to the IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

Per The Indianapolis Star, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean released a statement in support of Davis, his family and Holt.

First and foremost, our thoughts are with Devin and his family and we pray that his condition improves in the coming days. An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us and we are devastated by the news. We will continue to support Devin and Emmitt in every possible way and I know the Hoosier family will come together to rally for these young men. We are working to gather additional information on the accident.

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, Holt was cited for operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content over 0.02. Holt registered a 0.025, and while the legal limit in Indiana is 0.08, it is significantly lower for those who are under the age of 21, which Holt is.

Davis is a sophomore from Indianapolis who averaged over two points and two rebounds per game for the Hoosiers last season. Holt, meanwhile, is a freshman who was set to make his debut at Indiana during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Hoosiers are scheduled to open the season on Nov. 14 against Mississippi Valley State, although the seriousness of Davis’ situation certainly takes precedence at this point.

 

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C.J. Miles Is Indiana Pacers’ Best Bet to Fill Small Forward Void

The Indiana Pacers desperately need C.J. Miles to be an impact player at small forward this season. 

That desperation was not there when he was first signed this summer to a four-year $18 million deal. At that point, the best-case scenario for Miles was a role as a third wing off the bench behind Paul George and Lance Stephenson. The worst-case scenario was Miles replacing Stephenson in the starting lineup if Stephenson signed elsewhere. 

It turned out there was an even worse scenario lurking. 

Stephenson left for the Charlotte Hornets, and George suffered a catastrophic leg fracture at the end of August which will likely keep him out for the entire season. All of a sudden, the Pacers’ depth on the wings evaporated.

On Wednesday night we got a taste of the Pacers’ new wing rotation in a 103-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Rodney Stuckey was the star, scoring 16 points in 16 injury-restricted minutes, but the game underscored just how much the Pacers need Miles.

After starting the game 1-of-7 from the field, Miles finished with 15 points, making six of his last 10 shots. Although the 76ers are not the scariest offensive team in the league, Miles also played solid defense and helped funnel penetration toward Roy Hibbert—the backbone of the Pacers’ defensive scheme.

There is no way Miles will be able to completely fill the hole left by George, but like George he can contribute positively on both sides of the ball,which will be essential to Indiana.

ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus estimated Miles’ defensive impact at 0.21 points per 100 possessions. While that’s nowhere near the mark of 2.58 George put up last season, it puts Miles on the good side of the defensive ledger. That’s something that can’t be said for the Pacers’ other wing options:

Player DRPM
Paul George +2.58
C.J. Miles +0.21
Solomon Hill -0.84
Chris Copeland -1.93
Rodney Stuckey -3.24

While George was a phenomenal one-on-one defender, the Pacers’ defensive system is good enough to help ease the burden. What they really need from Miles is play within the system, sending penetration toward Hibbert and closing out intelligently on shooters. In those narrow capacities, he’s more than capable of following through.

Miles’ value goes beyond his defense. He was extremely efficient as a complementary scorer in Cleveland last season, finishing with a 56.9 true shooting percentage, shooting 39.3 percent on three-pointers and turning the ball over on just 9.1 percent of his possessions. 

However, Miles’ efficiency came in a very constrained role, much different than the one George played for the Pacers.

Player True Usage Ast Usage Drives per 36min. % of FGA on C&S
Paul George 40.7% 12.0% 4.2 31.7%
C.J. Miles 31.0% 6.2% 2.6 52.5%

True Usage and Assist Usage are more complete measures of offensive involvement that blend additional assist categories from the NBA‘s SportVU player tracking statistics with traditional measures of usage. You can see here that Miles played a much smaller role and created far fewer scoring opportunities for his teammates.

His role was much more centered around the perimeter than George’s—he drove the basketball far less, and more than half of his field-goal attempts were of the catch-and-shoot variety.

You can see from his shot chart from last season how his activity was focused around the perimeter:

Tim Donahue of 8Points9Seconds.com elaborated on Miles’ offensive skill set:

Spotting up and coming off screens. That’s what C.J. Miles does. People like to talk about his ability to put the ball on the floor and make things happen, but he’s a shooter. He’s gonna shoot. If the Pacers can get him good looks, he’ll knock em down. If not, don’t expect much dynamism or creativity, though he did score nearly 10% of his points leading the pick-and-roll, which is encouraging when it comes to a Miles/West two-man game.

Breaking things down into these stylistic categories, it’s clear that Miles will not be able to replicate a significant portion of what George gave the Pacers on offense last season. But he is a good fit for what is left on the roster and the way the team will likely play.

The Pacers will reportedly look to return to their smashmouth roots this season, running much more of their offense through Hibbert and David West in the low post. Stuckey, who will probably take over the starting shooting guard position when his minutes restriction is lifted, will be asked to replace a lot of the shot-creation and penetration contributions that George and Stephenson made. Stuckey is a questionable outside shooter, though.

Between post-ups for their big men and Stuckey’s dribble-drive attacks, spacing is going to be at a premium for the Pacers. The fact that Miles can be counted on for consistent outside shooting makes him extremely important.

Miles is a capable defender, one whose impact should be increased in the Pacers’ system and with Hibbert patrolling the lane behind him. On offense, he may not be a high-usage shot creator who can carry the perimeter scoring load, but he knows his role, doesn’t turn the ball over and is a very good outside shooter. 

He’s no Paul George, but unfortunately beggars can’t be choosers. The Pacers are short on wing talent, and there simply isn’t anyone else on the roster who can provide a reasonable facsimile of George. If the Pacers are going to be successful this season they’ll need positive contributions wherever they can find them.

That means a lot of C.J. Miles.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com/stats.

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Forward Jeffery Taylor Pleads Guilty To Domestic Violence Charge

Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor is facing 93 days in jail after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge. The According to NBA.com, Jeffery Taylor pleaded guilty in East Lansing District Court to domestic abuse and malicious destruction of property charges. He admitted to pushing his girlfriend and damaging a wall at the hotel in Michigan. The assault and battery charges against the 25-year-old was dropped as part of his guilty plea. Jeffery Taylor faces up to 93 days in jail for his crime, however, prosecutors say they won’t oppose a diversion program that could clear Taylor’s record if he complies with probation rules. Will he be face punishment from the NBA? That’s left to be  determined!   The post Forward Jeffery Taylor Pleads Guilty To Domestic Violence Charge appeared first on Basketball Bicker.

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