Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Luke Walton Phenomenon

First, quick note - Chris Paul demolished Dallas again. At this point, I'm not sure that Dallas can win this series, even though I picked them. Maybe they can rediscover their mojo at home, but having Kidd on the floor is truly a liability on offense. Paul is essentially playing free safety and ignoring Kidd on the perimeter when he doesn't have the ball.

Now, on to the main subject: the Luke Walton Phenomenon (LWP). The LWP comes in two forms. The first is when Luke Walton decides to post up whoever is guarding him, whether it be Shawn Marion or Kevin Garnett. This results in unmitigated disaster, and a confused/delighted look on the face of the defender, who usually gets 6 blocks in 3 minutes. To avoid this form of the LWP, I suggest hypnosis, or breaking the player's legs. Nothing else has been shown to work - just ask Kobe, who can be seen trying to talk some sense into Luke here. However, since most players know when their post moves only work on Brian Cook, form 1 of the LWP is mostly confined to Luke Walton.

The second form of the LWP occurs when an opponent purposely chooses to guard Luke Walton with a smaller man, thus tempting the Lakers to go outside their usual offense to seek an isolation post-up with Luke Walton. This invariably takes quite a bit of time off the clock, since the Lakers are not used to any set prominently featuring Luke Walton, and rarely results in a basket.

Tonight in the fourth quarter, the Suns fell prey to the second form of the LWP. Popovich decided to guard Boris Di
aw with either Ime Udoka or Michael Finley, both small forwards. The Suns decided to run their offense to exploit this "mismatch," force-feeding Diaw and standing around while he tried to do his "moves." Even though Diaw is a far superior player to Luke Walton, the results were disastrous - instead of a Nash-Amare screen and roll, which is virtually unguardable, the Suns got tons of awkward Diaw misses and quite a few turnovers as well. Apparently, Diaw should stick to scoring with the ladies rather than scoring in a basketball game. He might want to do some sit-ups too.

If the Suns come back to win this series, I hope Phil Jackson is paying attention. We should guard Diaw exclusively with Luke Walton and hope that the LWP can work in our favor as well. And, to be fair to Luke, he played extremely well last game - so well that Horace Grant and Karl Malone want some of the Walton love.

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