In a continuation of our series “5 on 5 with…” we exchanged questions with Kurt Helin of the esteemed Lakers blog ForumBlueandGold.com.
Here is a some background on Kurt and FB&G via the website:
“It’s pretty simple – this is a home for Laker fans and basketball fans in general. This site was started in large part because I wanted to talk on-the-court Laker analysis and information, not the off the court soap opera that dominates the local and national media. I don’t care if Phil Jackson and Kobe have lunch with Lamar Odom. I don’t care about who Kobe’s wife talks to. I don’t care what Shaq thinks of the Laker front office. I do care about the Lakers and the game – and that’s ALL we talk here. No soap opera. No off the court distractions.
I use a lot of “moneyball” NBA statistics, because I believe in observation. I don’t want the Lakers to get a player because he’s “got an NBA body” – prove to me he can play.”
1. The Lakers had a strong win recently against the Cleveland Cavaliers who are one of the elite teams in the league. What do you think the chances are for the Lakers to win the championship?
I’m kind of in the school that as a fan (or, really, as a GM) all you can do is hope that your team is in the mix. How things shake out come June depends so much on injuries and matchups and the like that it’s just hard to predict in January. I would say the Lakers are in the mix.
Also in the mix, I think, are obviously Cleveland and Boston. Then, half a step behind those top three teams are Orlando and San Antonio (and maybe New Orleans). I don’t think the Magic or Spurs can beat a healthy Lakers/Cavs/Celtics team in a seven-game series, but they are close enough that any little problem and they are right there.
2. As a Laker fan, what or who has been the biggest disappointment so far for you with the Lakers? What has been the bright spot?
Not many disappointments this season. If I had to pick one, it is that Jordan Farmar did not take the leap forward I hoped to see from him this season (even before the injury). I thought if he progressed by the end of the season he could just take the starting point guard job away from Derek Fisher. That hasn’t happened, Farmar seems more tentative in his decision making and his defense just isn’t there. He’s still good, a very nice PG off the bench, but I just had hoped for more.
The bright spot has been the defense – the Lakers are sixth in the league in points per possession allowed right now. That was the problem last year and this year the Lakers went with a new, far more aggressive system that seems to work. The team loses focus on it for periods, but they also do it well when things really seem to matter. And I think they will do well in the playoffs – the offense is so good the defense does not need to be last-season’s Celtics, it just needs to be good.
3. I recently wrote a post arguing that Lebron James should be the MVP this year. Do you think I am right with my assessment? If not, who do you think should take it home?
This will piss off some of my readers, but I’m with you. LeBron is the MVP this year. He has been the best player in the league, his defense has improved, he can take over games and get teammates involved depending on what is needed. Kobe has a better team around him, he doesn’t have to do what LeBron does right now, but how LeBron is doing it is amazing.
4. There has been plenty of talk of the rekindling of the Celtics vs. Laker rivalry that we had in the 80s. Do you think the NBA was more exciting in the 80s? If no, what do you think David Stern and the NBA should do to improve the entertainment of the game?
I thought the game was more entertaining then because the pace was faster – what this year’s Knicks do would actually have been the slowest pace in the NBA in 1984-85, the Knicks would be 10 possessions slower than the average team. I find that kind of up and down, fast break basketball entertaining.
How you get back to that is some success like DiAntoni had in Phoenix, but even more so. Team owners want to things, to make money and win. That fast-paced style, even on a team that is not winning a ton, is far more entertaining than a Jeff Van Gundy offense. It will put butts in the seats. However, teams tend to be copycats – if the Knicks get very good in a few years other teams will try to copy that system. Then we may be on to something. But I’m not sure that Stern can do anything about it.
5. ForumBlueandGold.com is one of the premier NBA blogs on the web and gets referenced countless times throughout the blogging community. How did the site come about and do you have any future plans for the site?
Thanks. I never really think of it as some sort of premier blog, it’s just kind of what I do for fun. I started it because I was frustrated with the level of discussion in LA about the Lakers at the time – in the fall of 2004 it was all “what does Shaq say about Mitch Kupchak now that he’s been traded?” and “Who is Kobe’s wife talking to?” I just wanted to talk hoops, so I started a little blog to do that. I had no idea it would take off.
I just became part of the TrueHoop Network of basketball blogs affiliated with ESPN, and of course Henry Abbott’s brilliant blog. That is taking me places and giving me ideas I had never had before, ways to engage more people while keeping the quality of discussion high. I have no idea where the site is going to be in a year or three, but I think the ride is going to be fun.