Steve Blake does a public service announcement. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News
Anytime the Lakers gather together to watch film, an image of Steve Blake often pops up on the television screen.
It shouldn’t be surprising considering Blake’s often performing what Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni describes as “multiple efforts.”
“He’s always the guy we show,” D’Antoni said. “His effort is off the charts.”
Blake’s team mindset, scrappiness and comfort level in both running pick-and-rolls and looking for his own shot under D’Antoni’s system will play a critical role heading into the 2013-14 season for multiple reasons. Uncertainty looms on when Kobe Bryant will fully heal from his surgically repaired left Achilles tendon. D’Antoni hopes to limit Steve Nash’s minutes at starting point guard in hopes of preserving the 39-year-old’s body. And with the Lakers acquiring Jordan Farmar this offseason, Blake will compete for minutes for plenty of scenarios.
“With coach’s system, you can play a lot of guards,” Blake said. “We’ll be rotating in and out a lot, especially myself going to the shooting guard some and point guard. I’m going to be prepared for that. Whatever they ask of me, I’ll be willing to do.” Continue reading →
Lakers #1 Jordan Farmar, #0 Nick Young and #5 Steve Blake enter the practice facility for media day. The Los Angeles Lakers held a media day at their El Segundo practice facility. Players were photographed for team materials, and interviewed by the press. El Segundo, CA. 9/27/2013. photo by (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News)
Overlapping injuries to Steve Nash and Steve Blake left the Lakers last season seriously exposed in the backcourt.
Nash and Blake have fully recovered. Meanwhile, the Lakers added Jordan Farmar this offseason three years after playing as a critical reserve in the Lakers’ back-to-back championship seasons (2009-10).
An NBA2K14 simulation has the Lakers missing the NBA playoffs. Photo Credit: NBA2K
Anxiousness awaits for the Lakers’ training camp, and for what?
Very few tab them as NBA championship favorites. Uncertainty lingers on how Kobe Bryant will look after he heals his left Achilles tendon. Skepticism persists over whether Mike D’Antoni can lead these Lakers through troubled times.
That’s perhaps why NBA2K14, a video game that prides itself on comprehensive player analysis and credible game simulations, tabs the Lakers this season failing to reach the playoffs and finishing with a 35-47 record. Granted, NBA2K13 rated last year’s Lakers as the NBA championship favorites, and we all know how that turned out. The NBA2K franchise also may do its own simulations before the Oct. 1 release. I received an advance copy and performed my own simulation.
But there’s plenty of reasons to feel skeptical about the Lakers. Dwight Howard bolted for the Houston Rockets. The Lakers lost their best defensive player in Metta World Peace for the sake of saving luxury taxes through the amnesty provision. The Lakers’ offseason additions in Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar bring some added speed and additional scoring. But on paper, it appears the Lakers don’t have enough defensively.
“This team just doesn’t have enough athleticism and speed to contend for a title,” said Clark Kellog, who offers analysis with Steve Kerr while Kevin Harlan serves as the play-by-play announcer for the NBA2K14 game. Continue reading →
Below is the sixth in a series previewing the storylines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2013-14 season. This post focuses on Lakers backup point guard Steve Blake.
1. How healthy can Steve Blake stay? If this question seems to be repetitive regarding all the Lakers players, well it is. But it’s one that’s unavoidable. For Blake, he’s fully recovered from a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for Lakers’ Game 3 and 4 losses to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. But there’s weird pattern that’s developed in Blake’s three seasons with the Lakers where he just can’t stay healthy. Here’s the rundown: misses three games because of chicken pox at the end of the 2010-11 season; sits out for 13 games in the 2011-12 season because of fractured cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum; stays sidelined for 37 games because of a lower abdominal strain that required surgery overlapping with a groin injury.
These are all freakish injuries and the source of them all prove hard to trace. But it’s still fair to wonder why these weird incidents keep happening. To Blake’s credit, he’s maintained a positive and resilient attitude and hasn’t let these incidents affect his work ethic and aggressiveness on the court.
2. Blake should continue to thrive under Mike D’Antoni’s system. Once Blake finally became healthy last season, he fit everything D’Antoni envisioned under his offense. Blake displayed his love for having the ball in his hands by running a good mix of pick-and-rolls and post-ups at his discretion. This freedom sparked Blake’s aggressiveness, willingness to take open shots and create on his own, three traits admittedly struggled with during his first two seasons with the Lakers for reasons including Phil Jackson’s triangle offense and adapting to Kobe Bryant’s demand for the ball. When Blake played with the second unit, he helped push the pace, ensure great floor spacing and connect with Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks at opportune times.
Assuming he stays healthy, expect Blake to continue where he left off. D’Antoni’s system didn’t work well for Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol, but the offense worked perfectly for Blake because it fit his preferred style of play and gave him the confidence to play without any inhibitions. Continue reading →