The Lakers’ big man training camp battle between Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones didn’t produce a starter

When Lakers’ training camp started in overdue September, probably the most positional battles I used to be maximum having a look ahead to used to be Damian Jones vs. Thomas Bryant to decide who will be the crew’s number one big man (non-Anthony Davis department). I used to be intrigued for lots of causes, however leader amongst them used to be that neither of those gamers used to be named DeAndre Jordan (and, to a lesser extent Dwight Howard), and each introduced the potential of a large improve to the middle rotation in comparison to remaining season.

Heading into camp, the theory (and phrase across the facility) used to be that Jones had a leg up in that festival. He used to be additionally, reportedly, the main candidate to start out at heart, pushing Davis all the way down to PF within the procedure. The idea procedure in this used to be lovely simple: Jones’ awesome athleticism (compared to Bryant) would translate to higher vertical spacing offensively and rim coverage defensively. There had been even hints he would get started taking pictures 3-pointers, development on the second one part of remaining season with the Kings when he flirted with taking the lengthy ball with extra self assurance.

On the opposite aspect of items, Bryant used to be getting into camp having a look to recapture the shape he confirmed ahead of an injured knee minimize his season quick in Washington two seasons in the past. That participant used to be an inside-outside scorer who rebounded neatly and performed with a top motor. Bryant returned to motion remaining season, however the Wizards’ business for Kristaps Porzingis paired with the emergence of Daniel Gafford whilst Bryant used to be injured, left him in limbo and most commonly as a deep bench participant who used to be no longer of their plans as he entered loose company.

Thus his go back to the Lakers within the hopes that he’d go back to shape as a 3-point shooter and, within the procedure, give you the Lakers the stretch-5 choice who may just supplement the LeBron, Davis, and (particularly) Westbrook trio.

Heading into camp I wouldn’t say I had a horse within the race, however the noise round Jones enjoying neatly in pre-camp scrimmages, blended with the experiences of him being preferred as a starter and the appetizing nature of ways his athleticism would translate on each ends of the ground, left me vulnerable to assume Jones used to be the awesome choice. Training camp and the preseason, then, would simplest serve to give a boost to the ones preconceived notions.

Until, neatly, it didn’t.

On the eve of the season opener, within the much-anticipated training camp battle between Jones and Bryant, I’m able to claim Bryant the winner. And, in truth, I don’t assume it’s all that shut in keeping with what we noticed within the video games.

Don’t get me unsuitable. Jones has had his moments. He’s performed onerous and has proven how his quickness, jumping talent, and general athleticism may also be useful. He ran the ground neatly, had some memorable blocked photographs, and his task across the basket altered different makes an attempt within the paint when he circled defensively. He additionally confirmed to be a excellent goal for inner passes, catching lobs across the hoop and even making some excellent passes when he used to be crowded on his inner catches.

Jones, then again, used to be inferior to Bryant. In maximum key statistical classes, Bryant used to be simply outright higher.

Bryant shot higher (54.5% to 26.7%) and proved to be a higher finisher within the paint, rebounded higher (13.2 to 7.2 in keeping with 100 possessions), were given the FT line extra and shot a upper share when there, and dedicated fewer fouls. Bryant additionally ran the ground simply as onerous (if no longer tougher) than Jones, proved to be simply as excellent an inner goal for dump-off and access passes, confirmed a higher working out of the offense when making his reads as a passer at the perimeter, and performed higher positional protection together with his awesome bulk and energy permitting him to carry up within the submit and in isolation.

Further, it bears citing that the Lakers, as a crew, had been significantly better within the mins that Bryant used to be at the flooring vs. Jones. Per the NBA’s stats web page, Bryant used to be considered one of simplest two gamers (in conjunction with Westbrook) who had a sure internet score (plus-1.1) and plus/minus (plus-3) whilst he used to be at the flooring. Jones, then again, used to be a -36 general and the Lakers’ internet score when he used to be at the flooring used to be a minus-23.6. This, after all, isn’t all on Jones, however those variations are large and do mirror how neatly the crew carried out when one used to be within the sport vs. the opposite.

Of direction, I do needless to say Bryant used to be a ways from very best and nonetheless left a lot to be desired in sure facets of the sport. His relative loss of jumping talent supposed subpar rim coverage if he used to be no longer early in his rotation. This additionally confirmed up in his drop protection methodology as guards and wings had been ready to carry excessive of him for photographs within the paint when he used to be in his go into reverse and gamers pulled up within the midrange or took floaters. His 3-point taking pictures used to be solely absent, lacking all six of his makes an attempt from deep, which, when taking into consideration he used to be signed to take and make that shot, is especially tough. The issues he couldn’t or didn’t do felt like they popped on display screen as a lot (if no longer extra) than the issues he used to be doing on any given ownership.

The identical may also be stated of Jones, then again. Jones is meant to be a lob danger, however his low taking pictures share displays that he wasn’t ready to show his inner seems to be into makes whilst additionally settling for too many jumpers as a part of his general nutrition of photographs. I assumed there have been occasions he appeared to be pondering an excessive amount of offensively, having a look shaky in the place he must be shifting to and what his passing reads had been. On protection, he struggled in isolation, but in addition had his problems enjoying in drop coverages the place he ended up in no man’s land too steadily. I additionally idea he struggled at the backboards, each when requested to field out and when he needed to chase out of house caroms.

So, I am getting it if there’s no longer some overwhelming feeling of positivity across the Lakers’ big man rotation as we head into the common season. It appeared as regardless that there used to be going to be a big improve on remaining yr’s rotation and, whilst I believe that’s nonetheless going to be true, it will no longer finally end up being to the level we idea it could be. After all, there’s a explanation why AD may be very prone to start the season because the beginning heart and why a defensive-minded trainer seems like he’d reasonably get started 3 guards than a 2nd big man.

But, this isn’t on the subject of beginning or enjoying heart to a stage the place AD would be capable of slide all the way down to PF extra steadily. The camp battle those two engaged in used to be, in the long run, about who must be the crew’s different big man subsequent to — and in the back of — Davis. And, each the tape and the stats say that participant is Thomas Bryant — even though a thumb harm assists in keeping him out on opening night time. I simply hope when Bryant is able to play, Darvin Ham says so, too.

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