First quarter report card

For all those who remember getting report cards every quarter in school, it’s time to do the same for the Lakers. After playing their 20th game tonight against San Antonio, the Lakers will be a quarter of their way through the season, hard as it is to believe.

If we’re handing out grades, I’ve got two players with A’s so far in Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar. Walton has had a remarkable season considering he figured to back up Vladimir Radmanovic when training camp started. Instead, Walton has become a fixture in the starting lineup and is averaging 12.5 points and shooting 53.6 percent.

Farmar has exceeded all expectations for a player who turned 20 at the end of last month and was a late first-round draft pick. When you looked at the Lakers’ roster before the season, it was hard to figure a way into the rotation for the rookie.

But Farmar is the first guard off the bench most nights and has played ahead of Smush Parker in the fourth quarter of two games. That he is shooting close to 50 percent might be the biggest surprise, considering Farmar comes into games cold off the bench. He has been an effective leader for the second team.

I’d give Kobe Bryant a B so far. The 52-point game against Utah was a statement coming back from knee surgery and Bryant made the switch from the wing to the backcourt for the sake of the team. It’s just hard to forget the Bryant of last season who carried the Lakers for games, weeks and months at a time.

I’ll refrain from giving out other grades – – I do have to see these guys every day – – but if you post your first quarter report card, I’ll make sure it gets up on the site.

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  • Elyse

    Just because Kobe hasn’t been scoring as much doesn’t mean he hasn’t been just as valuable. I think it is pretty clear that his leadership is having dramatic effects on the team this year. In addition, he has not tried to take games over…why is it that deserves a B? While his Utah performance was stunning, a good team wouldn’t want to rely on that every night.

  • jae

    1st quarter grades.

    Coaching: A-
    Phil and his crew are doing a great job this year. They are teaching the youngsters, while coaxing fine play out of the vets. The emphasis on defensive play is a welcome sight. The reason for the minus will be explained below.

    Kobe: B+
    Kobe started slow due to his surgery. He still doesn’t look close to where he probably wants to be. He is, however, playing a brand of basketball that is pleasing to his team, his coaches, and the fans. He is still virtually unstoppable, but Kobe is now getting his teammates involved and has become efficient. He keeps this up, he really will be MVP.

    Lamar: A-
    After his tragic summer, Lamar has clearly focused on his game and it has improved immeasurably. His all-world talent is evident on most nights and the spectacular seems routine to him. He is a great player and he is finally making great plays. He still misses little chippies, but he seems like he is getting IT.

    Luke: A
    The ultimate glue-guy. He’s hitting shots which keeps opposing defenses honest, and does a fine job running the O. Surprisingly capable on the defensive end, Luke is a complete surprise and fun to watch play.

    Bynum: B-
    Started off great, but some of the things I’m hearing about his work ethic are a concern. Still, the young man has shown flashes of brilliance, and hopefully will be a force in the post for years.

    Smush: D-
    Smush has really struggled this year. He can’t shoot, and he can’t defend. I can’t understand why Phil is still giving Smush meaningful minutes. I’m sure he is a cool cat, but the Lakers noticeably play better with Jordan on the floor.

    Kwame: B
    Is playing very inspired ball and I hope he keeps it up. Needs to pick up his intensity a little and grab some more boards and hit some FTs, but he has been very solid. Great D, thus far.

    Jordan: A
    I thought Mitch was nuts when he picked JF, but I’m glad he did. Jordan is a fine player. He plays under control and within himself. He is assertive when he has to be and seems to be the PG, the Lakers have been missing for the past decade. As I said above, the guys play better, both offensively and defensively with Jordan running the show.

    Mo Evans: B+
    Another inspired Kupchak pickup, Mo has been a valuable bench player and spot starter. He can bring it and when he gets the chance, he has done so. Oh, and he looks like Peeler when I watch him on TV.

    Ronny Turiaf: A+
    This guy fires me up. He, like Luke, is a glue guy. I hope he gets a few more minutes over the course of the year, I think he will be really important as the dog days approach.

    Vlad: Incomplete
    Was never a big fan of his game, but he hasn’t been 100%, so I’ll give him more time before I grade him.

    B. Cook: C-
    Big extension, but nothing to show for it yet. I hope he bounces back from his vertigo and begins to earn his check by knocking down some J’s and grabbing some boards… Oh, yeah, he doesn’t do that.

    Mitch: B+
    I haven’t been the biggest Kupchak fan over the years, and the Cook extension and Vlad signing weren’t the shrewdest moves, but it seems he has hit a few HRs the past two years. If Bynum continues to improve, he looks to become an elite C. The Farmar pick and the Evans trades were top notch transactions, as well.

    Overall: B+
    Great start, but we’ll see how the road games affect us. Hopefully, they will continue to D up and spread the wealth. I think they will, and hold off the Suns and secure a top 3 seed.

  • gdchild

    How about Odom? I’d give him B+. Some boneheaded plays at times, but more aggressive and consistent.

  • Yogi

    1. Kwame B-, has found a roll on this team to play defense, including coming out on screens
    2. Bynum B, seems to be a high maintenance teenager, but is a valuable player. Lakers just have to remember to get him the F&@!$#$ ball.
    3. Turiaf B-, accepts a roll of being under used, but keeps the other two bigger players playing hard or else he will win their minutes. What a great teammate.

    4. Odom A, does a lot of everything and is one of the toughest matchups in the league.
    5. Radmanovic D, I hope this is because he is still learning the Rubics Cube offense and his injured hand.
    6. Cook D, is finding it very difficult to score from the bench.

    7. Walton B+, Phil for the most part has found a way to hide his defense, but his offense has been outstanding.

    8. Kobe A+, his leg has slowed him down into being a better player.
    9. Evans B+, he is ready to start and play 35 minutes or play 10 minutes. Always ready to excel.

    10. Smush C-, pouting and lack of energy is not helping matters. Smush was better at this time last year than he is now. Is capable of playing better.
    11. Farmar B, great attitude, absolutely NBA ready with a beautiful floater shot.
    12. Sasha F, what happened? I think he should get his eyes checked, seriously.

    13. Mihm incomplete, nice fit for the triangle center, but did force Bynum to get minutes.
    14. McKie incomplete, front row tickets, and even gets to practice with the team.
    15. Williams incomplete, would have been better off PLAYING over seas.

    Phil Jackson A+- the players have found and accepted their roles, the best chemistry of any of his Lakers teams, defense is improving now that the offense is flowing, may have a LOCK DOWN last 5 minute defense by the playoffs.

  • Brandon

    I completely agree that Smush needs to be benched. He is so inconsistent and for a point guard to only average 2 assist per game is just pathetic. I’d give him an F.