This is the next piece in our series of Player Report Cards, in which we evaluate and assign a grade to the performance of each member of the 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers. Next in line is Josh Powell, a.k.a J-Peezy.
The best way to describe Josh Powell's role on this year's Lakers team is to tell you that he is a good friend of Kobe Bryant. His friendship with Kobe far outweighed J-Peezy's on-court contributions to this year's championship Lakers squad. That's not to say he didn't help the team at all; he did. Every player helped the team hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy, but Josh definitely took a step back in terms of productions and role on the team. A step back that could cost him his job.
What made Josh a valuable bench guy last season was his ability to step right in and be a short term solution due to injuries or foul trouble. He's never been much of a defender, still he played his role well by knocking down shots and rebounding when called upon. This past season? His numbers dropped in a contract year. There shouldn't be too much to hold against an obvious 12th man though. He's that far down the bench for a reason, because he isn't an elite guy. He's not a player who can, nor should he be relied on, to win a championship. Yet, when the Lakers are looking to cut salary where they can, and they already drafted a second-round steal in Derrick Caracter, an off season in a contract year might show Josh Powell the door.
Let's take a look at J-Peezy's season.
Josh's strengths are his midrange jumper and rebounding. Or at least they were. In '08-09, Powell averaged 4.2 ppg on 44.4 FGA% and 2.9 rebounds. In '09-10, he averaged 2.7 ppg, on 36.6 FGA% and 1.8 rebounds. In C.A's report on DJ Mbenga (whom received a D+), we learned that our 13th guy (and most likely our worst player) had per 36 minute averages of 10.6 ppg and 8.8 rebounds. Powell's numbers were slightly worse. His per 36 minutes averages were 10.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. He started out the season averaging 15.5 minutes per game in October and November due to Pau Gasol's absence, but obviously, he was relegated back to the bench upon Pau's return. In the time he did get in Pau's absence, he seemed to fall in love with trying the occasional three-point shot or deep two-pointer.
Something tells me Phil Jackson didn't appreciate that much. It was out of Powell's range, thus taking away his one of his few strengths - knocking down open midrange shots. He doesn't finish well close to the basket, and he's not a post-up player. So, if he's not hitting his shots, and his rebounding is suffering, there isn't much need for him to be out there. Hence, the drop in minutes from 11.7 in '08-09 to only 9.2 in '09-10. The coaching staff went from giving Powell crucial minutes, when needed, in big games in '08-09 to giving Lamar more minutes, and going with a smaller second unit line-up. Powell was mostly relegated to definite Taco Unit time.
I like him, but it's up in the air if Powell will return. I felt all season that the Lakers held him back to keep his price down, but he responded poorly in the minutes he received. He's a pretty good player for what he's paid though, and he's been in the Triangle for a two seasons now. His experience in Phil's system and the fact that it will be Phil's last season helps Powell's chance at returning if they feel Derrick Caracter isn't quite ready. Don't forget, the NBA subsidizes part of veteran minimum contracts, so the Lakers won't have to pay too much more than they would have to pay a second-round rookie. That's if the Lakers are choosing between the two, and if no team bites and gives Powell more than the Lakers might be willing to offer. Caracter has been impressive this summer, and most likely, just might make Powell irrelevant. But hey, he is Kobe's good friend, and that could mean much more than his small drop in production on the court. I'm sure it helped Fish's case in getting another 3 years.
Checkout J-Peezy's Playlists on Lakers.com
Player Grade: D