Kobe Bryant injury: The impact on the Suns’ 2013 NBA Lottery odds

Posted by on April 14th, 9:00 am

The season-ending and career-threatening tear to Kobe Bryant’s left Achilles tendon — a complete tear, at that — certainly affects the Phoenix Suns’ 2013 draft lottery odds. The heavy bet is that it’ll improve the Suns’ shot at acquiring a Los Angeles Lakers lottery pick this summer, but with so little time left, that shot is still a reach.

Bryant, after all, was putting up MVP type numbers in recent weeks, even if the numbers came because he was playing 47.9999 minutes per game. Los Angeles has two tough games to finish out its regular season and holds a one-game lead on the Utah Jazz heading into Sunday’s action.

Thus, the magic number of combined Jazz wins and Laker losses for the Suns to acquire Los Angeles’ draft pick is two.

There are four combined games to reach that point, as Utah would need to end the year with at least the same record as the Lakers — the Jazz hold the tiebreaker.

On Sunday, the Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs in Staples Center before finishing off their schedule Wednesday against the team a spot ahead of them in the playoff standings — the Houston Rockets.

San Antonio, of course, has the potential to hold out its stars such as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili is hoping to return before the postseason, but it seems unlikely on Sunday against the Lakers. Then again, maybe none of this matters considering the Spurs seemingly don’t skip a beat when their players are withheld from action.

But like the Lakers, Gregg Popovich’s team is dealing with a loss. The Spurs stunningly waived Stephen Jackson, so how each team responds from their respective losses will be an underlying storyline. One would expect that the Lakers will be playing with Kobe in their hearts as they did to pull out a 118-116 win against Golden State despite seeing their suddenly-mortal leader go down.

Houston, in the season finale, could prove to be a problem for the Lakers, whose clomping-around on defense doesn’t bode well against the league’s fastest-paced team.

As for the Jazz’s schedule, expect things to get quite interesting. They’ll play their second game of a two-game series at the Minnesota Timberwolves’ home court on Monday. The Jazz beat Rick Adelman’s team 107-100 on Friday, though it’s not a great sign Utah needed Al Jefferson to go berserk for 40 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to pull out the win.

Suns fans can hope the T-Wolves tired by jumping into seemingly every one of Phoenix’s passing lanes on Saturday.

Utah finishes the season Wednesday against the Grizzlies in Memphis, and don’t expect Lionel Hollins to give his players the last regular season game off. They fell to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday and are deadlocked at 54-26. They’ll probably be going the full 82 games in vying for homecourt advantage in the first round.

In short, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the final Western Conference playoff spot, and thus the Suns’ second lottery pick, comes down to the final game of the year. But that said, even with Bryant’s injury, the Lakers still hold their own destiny. There’s a chance they play inspired ball for the two remaining games this season.

And looking further ahead, it’s unlikely Bryant’s injury will make much of a difference to Phoenix if he sits out all or even part of next season.

The only piece of the Steve Nash trade that’s a part of the 2014 draft is a second-round pick coming from Los Angeles, meaning there won’t be a whole lot stacked on the Lakers’ record next season as far as Phoenix is concerned.

Did D’Antoni overplay Kobe?

The simple answer: no.

Yes, we here tend to be Mike D’Antoni apologists. While his slight rotations might or might not necessary, they weren’t directly the reason for Bryant’s injury.





As Lakers trainer Gary Vitti pointed out to CBS Sports, Bryant’s extended minutes just increased the chances of any injury occurring. And yes, while some may not like Bryant, his injury does issue the warning to mere mortals that an Achilles could explode while walking out the front door — which is frightening.

The end of the New Orleans Hornets

Our TrueHoop counterparts at Hornets247 must say goodbye to their team’s name as the Pelicans’ reign begins. Here’s their account of what it means to be a Hornet.

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Los Angeles Lakers · Phoenix Suns Analysis

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott // Apr 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Actually, the injury to Kobe may have some influence on the Suns in the relatively far future.

    If Kobe struggles to rehab and ends up retiring either next season (2013-2014) or the following season (2014-2015), it could bode well for the 2015 pick the Suns get from the Lakers.

    That pick is only protected to #5. If the Lakers are slumming at that time, then the Suns could get a nice lottery pick.

    In a way, the situation for that year depends a bit on what Kupchak does this summer, and the uncertainty around Kobe gives the perfect cover for a complete overhaul.

    Potentially, Kupchak could put on his dealer’s cap and turn Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash into Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Anderson Varejao, Kyrie Irving, and Landry Fields. Re-sign Jamison and Clark, and the Lakers would be reloaded.

  • 2 Don D. DeHass // Apr 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve been watching this Cavaliers/Suns drama unfold all year. Cleveland gets the Lakers pick (right to switch it’s Miami pick) if LA makes the playoffs. So it’s an improvement of approximately 14 picks if the Lakers qualify. With recent developments, Utah is now favored to get that 8 seed, and Phoenix can rejoice.

  • 3 Keith // Apr 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Terry? Fields? Jamison? Agreed with the rest maybe but those 3 are scrubs. Jamison should retire.

  • 4 azbballfan // Apr 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Kobe has a long road ahead, former Suns great Charles Barkley had his career ended by a Achilles tear

    It happened to Elton Brand in his prime and he was never the same, although he came back to play and be solid

    its going to be a long frustrating summer and fall for Kobe and the Lakers.

    If the Lakers do indeed miss the playoffs the only person i feel sorry for is Steve Nash

    They had, so far anyway, all the chances in the world to make the playoffs

    easy peasy schedule at first, 8 of their first 11 games at hyome a few weeks later easy east coad road trip

    super easy schedule after the all star break, and almost every game in April at home

    even their “road” games at the Clippers give that team an advantage because they dont have to go anywhere

    the Lakers are one of the the richest teams in the NBA, if not the richest, and have no excuse

    i hope Kupchak blows it up next year, but who on the team has value besides Howard?

    Nash, Artest, Gasol, Jamison are all ancient by NBA standards

    this team was built for right now, and now with kobe down and no draft picks until like 2017, they better hope they can attract free agents cause i dont see them getting much for those 4

  • 5 bk // Apr 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    It will set a historical NBA record that you have a DNP player that earns 30 Million dollars.

  • 6 DBreezy // Apr 14, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    2nd lottery pick likely bye-bye thanks to the Spurs. While I definitely wanted that pick, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s poetic justice not only that Lakers/Spurs did it in, but because it’s another thing that really makes this front office truly dig out of the whole they built.

  • 7 foreveris2long // Apr 14, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Yeah DBreezy, management was going to be patting themselves on the back had they gotten a lottery pick from the Lakers for often injured 39 year old Nash. Now it is unlikely they can presently boast about the trade. Now let’s see if the 3 blind mice can for once have a successful draft. Add in what they do with Gortat, Hunter and Wesley Johnson will make this a very interesting summer.

  • 8 DBreezy // Apr 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Foreveris,

    I want to say it’s going to be interesting, but I can’t even get myself excited for a draft that the Suns will have a top 6 pick in, so I don’t know.

  • 9 Scott // Apr 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    So now Utah has to beat both Minnesota and the Gizz, and the Rockets have to beat LA.

    The Nash lottery pick gift is circling the event horizon, edging closer to oblivion …

  • 10 Scott // Apr 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Speaking of circling … the players circling the #30 pick (which the Suns get if they miss out on the Lakers lottery pick), according to DX, are:

    #28 Allen Crabbe – SF (hits long spot up 3s, can’t dribble, lacks killer instinct)

    #29 Lucas Noguiera – C (7′ 5″ wingspan, wants to be called “Bebe,” notoriously lazy, extremely raw and immature)

    #30 Reggie Bullock – SG (hits spot up 3s, can’t dribble, defends well, talks smack)

    #31 Erick Green – PG/SG (ding ding ding!)

    #32 Russ Smith – PG (one of those tiny players)

  • 11 Scott // Apr 14, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    If the Suns pick at #30, they could do worse than to take Erick Green.

    What he brings:

    + true combo guard; has point skills along with scoring mentality (25 ppg, 3.8 assists)
    + average PG size (6′ 2.5″) but good length (6′ 6.5″ wingspan)
    + shoots well off catch and shoot or dribble
    + knows how to get fouled (8.3 FTA per game)
    + can shoot the 3 (hits 2 of 5) and floaters
    + creates separation, shoots with a high release
    + high IQ
    + volume shooter; used to carrying a scoring load, facing top defender, can make last second shots
    + can drive to the hoop with no problem; scores rapidly in transition
    + quick
    + good intensity and fundamentals on defense, good on-ball defense
    + is good at pick and roll offense

    Dings:

    - lacks elite explosiveness, athleticism
    - was permitted to get lost on off-ball defense; would have to change that habit in the NBA
    - needs to get stronger to push through screens and finish at the rim
    - avoids finishing with his left hand

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Erick-Green-16580/

  • 12 Ty-Sun // Apr 15, 2013 at 10:06 am

    The good news is that there is no way that the Suns drop lower than 4th in the draft BEFORE the lottery. If the worst happens and all three spots in the draft fall to teams with better records by way of the lottery, then the absolute worst draft pick they can have this year is 7th. With the Lakers beating SA without Kobe, I doubt they will miss the playoffs this season so the Suns should be stuck with the Heat’s 30th pick in the 1st round instead of another lottery pick. Since the Suns are unlikely to find a player that might have significant upside at 30, perhaps they should consider using that pick AND their 2nd rounder to draft overseas players that hopefully they could bring over in a few years.

  • 13 DBreezy // Apr 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I’m not sure that the Suns truly need to be stashing anyone overseas unless they truly are a potential future asset. We pretty much already know what this roster can do and the West isn’t getting any easier, so new faces probably can’t hurt. Beyond the standard draft day trade stuff, I think they should really look into unlocking the value of that 30th pick under this new tax environment. There is so much talk of being able to get contributing players all over the first round. Perhaps their is a team like NYK or BK who would like to add a particular player, but would also like to save some money by paying them with a lower salary slot. That might require some double or triple horse trading, but that’s what Babby is there to do.

  • 14 Scott // Apr 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

    @Ty-Sun -

    Well, assuming Adetokunbo doesn’t fall to #30, the next foreign player on the DX radar is Nemanja Nedovic, whom I have mentioned a few times over the last couple years.

    Nedovic is kind of like a twin of Dragic, and capable of playing both guard spots, but not as developed, and not as defensively committed. He’s 21, 6′ 4″, 6′ 5″ wingspan, and his 41″ vertical and quick first step indicates an elite athlete. He’s not as polished a guard as Erick Green (who more closely resembles a lightweight Eric Gordon). However, Nedovic might well improve if he was playing against better competition and with better coaching. He is said to be a level-headed competitor, and he does speak English.

    After that … there isn’t really any foreign player I’m aware of who would be worth taking. DX has Mam Jaiteh in the first round, but I don’t see why he would get drafted by anyone, period. And in the 2nd round they have Bojan Dubljevic and Leo Westermann, neither of whom appear to me to be all that great or loaded with potential.

    I know peeps here hate the idea, but if the Suns were sitting with a pick at the tail end of the 2nd round and could not think of anyone to use it on, I’d use it on Goran’s brother, Zoran. He’s got a year to go with his Spanish club, he’s 23, he’s got a high motor, high IQ, and defends well, and he can’t make a shot to save his life. However, we’ve seen Tucker do all right with a similar skill set, and Zoran looks to me like he plays with a better sense of the game – better passing, for instance – than Tucker does.

  • 15 mha // Apr 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    For foreign players there is also Dario Saric. I saw him playing quite a few times but sorry, for me is almost impossible to translate player in time and place. Saric was quite early developed, so it was natural that he stood out.

    More than Saric I think it is interesting Nemanja Nedovic. He clearly has a lot of skills, so here is only question, how will he translate to NBA.

  • 16 Ty-Sun // Apr 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I was just saying that IF the Suns can’t find anyone they think at least has future potential with the 30th and the 2nd round picks that they should CONSIDER what players are available overseas. It all depends on who is available when the Suns’ draft picks come around. There are 4-5 international players who have been projected to be drafted before the 30th pick in the first round. If any of them are still available at 30, the Suns should give them serious consideration.

  • 17 Scott // Apr 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    @mha -

    Dario Saric has indicated he’s not available for the NBA draft this year.

    @Ty-Sun -

    Sometimes teams just get their mind set on taking a player, like the Wiz and Vesely. But aside from that, the only truly first round draft-worthy foreign picks I see this year are Rudy Gobert (sheerly because of his size and length) and Adetokunbo (again, because of length and potential).

    DX has Sergei Karasev in their late first round, but he’s an unathletic 3 pt shooter. Yes, he shoots the 3 well and has a high IQ, but he lacks lateral quickness and perimeter defense, can’t elevate, and I’m just not that impressed. It sounds like a GM could get similar value in the 2nd round with a domestic player.

    DX rounds out the 1st round with Jaiteh, who doesn’t seem that good, and Nogueira, who has been a big disappointment and may not even enter the draft. So there’s 5 in the first, but only 2 of them – as I see it – are really serious picks, and those are mainly on potential, not actual game value.

    So as far as foreign players go, at this point I’m only aware of Gobert, Adetokunbo, and Nedovic (in the mid 2nd round) as being realistic picks. I don’t think any of the others have much chance of sticking in the league.

  • 18 Ty-Sun // Apr 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    AGAIN… I’m only saying CONSIDER international players with the later draft picks. I’m NOT saying the Suns should draft them with those picks. In fact, the Suns should avoid drafting most international players IF they intend to try and focus on developing a defensive mentality/team culture in the future.

    I actually think the quickest way back to contending for the Suns would be by focusing on defense instead of offense. But as far as the draft goes, just take the best player available.

  • 19 DBreezy // Apr 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    @ Scott,

    Saric has supposedly changed his mind and will test the waters this year.

  • 20 Scott // Apr 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    If you are talking to me, so far as I can see everything I’ve said is in agreement with you. If you thought I was arguing, I’m not. I’m just discussing or elaborating.

    A) The Suns should consider international players with later draft picks, and possibly sock one away if it makes sense. I don’t want to see a pick get wasted like the Dwayne Collins pick. If Collins wasn’t drafted he would clearly have been available for pickup in summer league. The Suns could have used their pick on a developing player overseas who would not normally be in the summer league.

    B) I’m not saying the Suns should draft ANY of the foreign players. However, of the known foreign players likely available at #30 (assuming that’s the pick the Suns get), I believe Nedovic might be the best bet. Or possibly Adetokunbo if he slips.

    C) I’m in favor of developed defense / scoring, high motor, high IQ, and players with good size, length, athleticism, and winning spirit.

    D) I’m in favor of taking the best player available.

    E) The draft order is still settling out, anyway.

  • 21 Scott // Apr 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    @DBreezy -

    I see you’re right! It seems like everyone realizes this draft is weak and wants to get in, ready or not. :p

  • 22 Ty-Sun // Apr 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    @Scott – Yes, I did think you were arguing with me until your last post. I agree with you on everything you said in your last post.

    The problem with us fans is that we have NO idea what the FO is planning to do in the coming off-season or how their plans depend on how the draft numbers fall.

    If the Suns get lucky in the lottery and are able to draft Noel, that would and should be a big factor in what trades and FAs they pursue after the draft. If they get McLemore, that also factor into potential trades & FA decisions. I suppose the point is that no matter who the Suns get in this year’s draft THAT should be the key to their off-season trade and FA acquisition strategy.

    Cuban failed mostly because he put all (or at least most) of his eggs in one basket. The Suns can’t afford to do that. They need multiple plans based on the wide range of possibilities and the first domino to fall will be the draft.

  • 23 Scott // Apr 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    Cuban failed to net his key guys last summer, but he didn’t fail to set himself up to try again this summer. There’s some suitably big names out there this year.

    The Suns FO, on the other hand, looks to me more likely to submarine again next season as part of an ongoing plan to get draft picks.

    I think they’re on the 2 year lottery plan, with this summer being the first year of the plan. (Those other lottery years weren’t intended to be lottery years.)

    I also think they’re reconciled to the possibility that it may take 3 years if they’re unlucky with their picks.

    After that, they’ll be back in FA pick up / playoffs mode / championship hunt (or at least that’s the plan).

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