/B/R NBA Digest: Los Angeles Lakers Success Aint No Fluke

B/R NBA Digest: Los Angeles Lakers Success Aint No Fluke

Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

Malcolm Brogdon’s Inside-Hand Layups

It feels like the element of surprise is an increasingly important weapon in guards’ arsenals this year, as illustrated last week by Ricky Rubio’s slick one-handed scoop-fest. This week, we’ve got Malcolm Brogdon’s tricky inside-hand finishes to celebrate.

Against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday, he exposed the ball to Cody Zeller, finishing with a lefty layup on the right side of the bucket. Later in the same game, Brogdon switched it up, quick-shotting PJ Washington with a right-handed scoop from the left side.

It’s a brash approach, one that practically depends on the defender thinking to himself, “There’s no way he’ll actually try this!”

Brogdon has always had some deception in his around-the-basket game. We’re just seeing it more now that he’s excelling in a primary ball-handling role for the Indiana Pacers.


Eric Paschall’s Trey-Fest

Golden State Warriors rookie Eric Paschall barged into the Rookie of the Year conversation with 78 points spread over three games this past week. His 34-point explosion against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday featured four made threes in six attempts. He’d previously been 0-of-8 on the year, but he still came out gunning like a Splash Brother.

Paschall, who Golden State selected at No. 41 overall, is already an obvious draft steal, and that’d be true if he weren’t showing surprising confidence from deep. His strength, energy and bounce allow him to overpower vets at the rim, and there’s immense defensive potential in that 6’6″ frame. He’s happy to let you know how powerful he is.

Head coach Steve Kerr invoked a PJ Tucker comparison, which probably sets the bar too high defensively but may actually sell Paschall’s offensive potential short.

Since this is an aesthetics section, we have to discuss Paschall’s shooting form, which doesn’t seem likely to produce reliably high three-point percentages.

Paschall shoots at almost a 45-degree angle, which results in his elbow pointing toward the target (that’s good) but also creates some right-to-left drift when the ball is in the air (that’s bad). The bigger issue may be his habit of jumping exceptionally high on perimeter shots. That makes timing a release tricky, and we’ve already seen him miss badly when he waits too long and shoots on the way down.

Blake Griffin mostly got over that hiccup, so there’s hope.


Words and Deeds

Devin Booker has shown better defensive effort than ever this season. The bar wasn’t high, of course, but the fifth-year guard is clearly making it a point to focus, work around screens and muster consistent energy. It’s no coincidence the Phoenix Suns are surprising everyone to start the season.

Watch him refuse to get picked off by an Al Horford screen during Monday’s massive 114-109 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’s saying something when Booker scores 40 to hand Philly its first loss of the year and we pick out a defensive highlight to commemorate the game. Something is different about the former one-way player.

Booker told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that new head coach Monty Williams gave him a piece of advice before the season.

Everything you want is on the other side of hard,” the guard relayed. “When he says that, it’s not a basketball statement. It’s a mental statement. A hard work statement. It locks me in every time.”

Williams’ words are getting the right kind of action from his best player.


Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise indicated. Accurate through games played Thursday, Nov. 7.