1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transact's

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1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transact's

Postby MCT » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:51 pm

This is the fourteenth of a planned series of threads analyzing games played, games started and transactions for the 1980-81 season. Before reading any further, see the introductory thread below:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4961

LOS ANGELES LAKERS – PART I

SEASON OVERVIEW

The Lakers had a 54-28 record. They finished second in the Pacific Division, and were the #3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers actually had the second best record in the conference, two games better than the Midwest Division champion Spurs, but the two division champions were guaranteed the top two seeds.

In the First Round, the Lakers lost to the Rockets 2-1 in a best-of-three “miniseries”. They therefore played a total of 3 playoff games.

The Lakers used 14 different players for the season, three above the minimum.

ROSTER AND TRANSACTIONS

OPENING NIGHT ROSTER

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Jim Brewer
Butch Carter
Jim Chones
Michael Cooper
Alan Hardy
Brad Holland
*Tony Jackson
Earvin “Magic” Johnson
Mark Landsberger
Norm Nixon
*Myles Patrick
Jamaal Wilkes

*placed on injured list 10/9/80

IN-SEASON TRANSACTIONS

In the list below, anything which is underlined is the subject of discrepancies or guesswork, or is the result of further research beyond my usual sources.

11/5/80 – Placed Butch Carter on the injured list; activated Tony Jackson from the injured list.

11/11/80 – Placed Mark Landsberger on the injured list; activated Myles Patrick from the injured list.

11/15/80 – Activated Butch Carter from the injured list; waived Tony Jackson.

11/20/80 – Placed Earvin “Magic” Johnson on the injured list; traded a 1982 1st round pick to the Nets for Eddie Jordan.

12/2/80 – Activated Mark Landsberger from the injured list; waived Myles Patrick.

2/26/81 – Activated Earvin “Magic” Johnson from the injured list; placed Alan Hardy on the injured list.

Note: the Lakers finished the season with 12 players on their roster, including one on the injured list (Alan Hardy). During their brief playoff run, the team used only 10 players. The two remaining players, who did not appear in the playoffs, were Hardy and Butch Carter. One of them was presumably on the playoff roster but was not used in any games, while the other was inactive. I don’t have any documentation of which is which. Given that Hardy had been on the injured list since February, however, I think it is likely that Carter was the player who filled the 11th slot on the playoff roster, but wasn't used in any games, while Hardy was inactive.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

All of the comments I have for this section concern transactions where players moved on or off the injured list, or opposing moves to fill or vacate a roster spot.

10/9/80:

The Lakers started the season with Tony Jackson and Myles Patrick on the injured list, placing them on the IL the day before the season began, as NBA teams got their active rosters down to the 11-man limit. This move was reported in the transaction column in the following day’s Globe, and is also in several other newspapers in the Google News Archive.

11/5/80:

Butch Carter was placed on the injured list, and Tony Jackson activated. This move was reported in the transaction column in the following day’s Globe, and is also in several other newspapers in the Google News Archive. Carter was placed on the IL over concerns about a possible heart abnormality. According to an AP wire service story in the 11/7/80 Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News, Carter had already been medically cleared to play – presumably on 11/6, the day before the article, and the day after he was placed on the IL – but could not immediately return due to the rule than a player placed on the IL had to stay there for a minimum of five games. Looking at the Lakers’ schedule, Carter would need to miss the games on 11/7, 11/8, 11/11, 11/12 and 11/14, and would be eligible to return for the game on 11/16.

11/11/80:

According to the transaction column in the following day’s Globe, and several other newspapers in the Google News Archive, Mark Landsberger was placed on the IL. I have no documentation of what the Lakers did to fill Landsberger’s spot on the active roster; none of my sources that report Landsberger being placed on the IL provide this information. By all appearances, however, they activated Myles Patrick from the IL. Neither Landsberger nor Patrick played in the Lakers’ game on 11/11 (it isn’t clear if these moves were made before or after the game on that date), but Patrick made his Lakers debut the following day, on 11/12.

Note that at the time Landsberger was placed on the injured list, the only player on IL besides Patrick was Butch Carter, and Carter could not have been activated, because he had not yet spent five games on the IL.

11/15/80:

After spending the requisite five games on the IL, Butch Carter returned to action on 11/16. While I have no documentation of this, he must have been activated from the IL sometime between the game on 11/14 and the one on 11/16. This raises the question of who the Lakers removed from their active roster to make room. By all appearances, it was Tony Jackson. Jackson did not appear in any games after 11/11, and I don’t see how he could have been on the Lakers’ active roster at the time of the 11/16 game. The Lakers used 10 players in that game, and the 11th player on their active roster has to have been Norm Nixon, who didn’t play on 11/16 but played in both the preceding and following games.

There’s one problem with this, however. Multiple sources show Jackson being waived on 11/17/80, including the NBA Register, the Lakers Media Guide, and b-r.com. (It’s very possible that the NBA Register was where this originally came from, and the others used the Register as their ultimate source. From that point of view, the Register may really be the only source here.) But based on the box scores, I just don’t see how Jackson could have been waived any later than 11/16. Unfortunately, Jackson’s waiving never appeared in the transaction column in the Globe, and I couldn’t find any references to it in the Google News Archive, either, so we don’t have any contemporary news sources to check against. Maybe the “17” in the NBA Register is a typo which should be “14”, “15”, or “16” – in my experience, these types of minor typos are surprisingly common in the Register – and the other sources cited above copied this incorrect date from the NBA Register.

I am struck that the Jackson situation is very similar to another transaction we saw earlier in this series, when the Pacers waived Dick Miller, about a week after the Lakers waived Jackson. Several sources show Miller being waived on 11/24/80, but based on the timing of other transactions and on the TSN box scores, I don’t see how Miller could have been waived any later than 11/22/80, two days earlier. As in this case, it’s very possible that all sources other than the NBA Register got the date of Miller’s waiving from the Register, so the Register may be the only real source for the 11/24 date. And also like this case, I can’t find anything in a contemporary newspaper to check against. These may not be the only two cases. In starting to work on additional teams that I haven’t posted yet, I’ve also come across one or two additional examples of this.

What’s going on here? This is just speculation on my part, but I’m going to throw out a theory. In the NBA, when a player is placed on waivers for the purpose of releasing him – the only purpose for which waivers are used in the NBA – it is reported that the player has been “waived” as soon as he is placed on waivers. If he clears waivers, no further transaction will be reported. In Major League Baseball, by contrast, when a player is placed on waivers for the purpose of releasing him – one of multiple purposes for which waivers are used in MLB – nothing is reported. Only when he has cleared waivers it is reported that he has been “released”. (Note that in the NBA, the player’s roster spot opens up as soon as he is placed on waivers, while in MLB, it does not automatically open up until the player clears waivers. This may explain the difference in how the two sports report these transactions.)

Is it possible that these transactions somehow got written up in the NBA Register “baseball style”, so the date presented is actually the date the player cleared waivers, not the date he was placed on waivers? With a nod to this theory, I’m using 11/15 as the date Jackson was waived and Carter was activated from the IL.

11/20/80:

According to numerous papers in the Google News Archive, Magic Johnson suffered a severe knee injury in a game against the Kings on 11/18/80. By the next day, it had been determined that Johnson would miss 10 to 12 weeks. On 11/20/80, the Lakers acquired Eddie Jordan from the Nets in exchange for a future draft pick. While I have found articles noting that Jordan was being acquired to fill in for Johnson, I haven’t found any explicitly stating that Johnson was being placed on the injured list. He must have been, though, at or shortly before the point when Jordan was acquired, for there to have been room for Jordan on the active roster.

12/2/80:

According to multiple sources (NBA Register, Lakers Media Guide, and b-r.com), the Lakers waived Myles Patrick on 12/2/80. That date makes sense, as I believe it was the contract-guarantee deadline. None of these sources explain how the Lakers filled the roster spot, but by all appearances it was by activating Mark Landsberger from the injured list. Landsberger returned to action in the second game after 12/2, on 12/6/80.

When I checked for articles in the Google News Archive to confirm, I couldn’t find anything concerning Patrick being waived. But I did come across an article in the 11/26/80 Bangor (Me.) Daily News with a reference to Patrick that, while somewhat cryptic, doesn’t seem to mesh with the timeline laid out above. The article was about the Maine Lumberjacks of the CBA making their final cuts before the start of the CBA regular season. Patrick had played for the Lumberjacks the previous year, and the article discusses the possibility that he could ultimately join the team this year as well (in which case the Lumberjacks would need to clear an additional roster spot to make room for Patrick). The article states “Patrick was put on the disabled reserve list by the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday and must now clear 72-hour waivers before any CBA team can claim him. There is a good chance that he will clear those waivers before the end of the week and could be back [with the Lumberjacks] by the weekend.” Tuesday would be 11/25, and the upcoming weekend would be 11/29 and 11/30.

I find that whole description to be very confusing. The waiver procedure under discussion isn’t familiar to me, although it may be a CBA process, not an NBA one. But I don’t understand why Patrick would be on waivers, or could potentially be coming to the CBA in the next few days, if he was placed on the Lakers’ disabled list. If he was in fact waived, there’s also obviously a conflict between this article stating that Patrick was waived by the Lakers on 11/25, and other sources stating that he was waived on 12/2. I’d almost like to say, “the author of this article didn’t know what they were talking about”, but some of the known facts aren’t entirely inconsistent with the article. First, Patrick did not appear in any games for the Lakers after 11/21. Based on that, it’s conceivably possible that the Lakers waived him or placed him on the IL on 11/25. In addition, if Patrick was waived or placed on the IL on 11/25, there’s no reason why Landsberger couldn’t have been activated to fill the roster slot, although Landsberger didn’t play in a game until 12/6.

The Globe meanwhile reported Patrick’s waiving in its 12/4/80 transaction column, which suggests that it happened on 12/3. That conflicts with the 12/2 date in other sources, but it’s obviously much closer to that date than to the 11/25 suggested in the Bangor Daily News article. I don’t usually make much of these one-day discrepancies between sources, which are surprisingly common; were it not for the Bangor Daily News article, I would just go with 12/2, and not even mention the discrepancy. 12/2 makes sense (contract-guarantee deadline), and it’s conceivably possible that the Globe was just a day late in running the report, especially with it being a transaction involving a West Coast team. I mention it only because it bolsters the idea that Patrick was waived on or about 12/2, rather than on or about 11/25.

For now, I’m sticking with 12/2, and assuming that Patrick stayed on the active roster until then. This could obviously stand to be nailed down better, though.

2/26/81:

Magic Johnson returned from his injury on 2/27/81. I don’t have any documentation of his being activated from the IL, but it must have happened on or shortly before that date. I also don’t have any documentation in my usual sources of how the Lakers cleared a roster spot for him.

By all appearances, the player removed from the roster was Alan Hardy, who did not appear in any games after 2/20. In the Google News Archive, I found an AP wire service story on Johnson’s return in two 2/27/81 papers – the Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter, and Victoria (Tex.) Advocate – which states that Hardy had been placed on the IL to make room for Johnson. I am assuming that Johnson’s activation and Hardy’s move to the IL happened the previous day, on 2/26.

GAMES STARTED INFO

MEDIA GUIDE

As far as I can see, the 2014-15 Lakers Media Guide has no historical games started information whatsoever, aside from its recap of the immediately preceding season (2013-14). So for the 1980-81 Lakers, we will need to rely solely on the TSN box scores.

TSN BOX SCORES

All but two of the TSN box scores for the 1980-81 Lakers appear to list the players in “starters first” F-F-C-G-G order. The two exceptions were games on 11/29/80 and 2/20/81.

--In the 11/29/80 box score, I see no obvious explanation for the order the Lakers players are listed in.

--In the 2/20/81 box score, the expected starters appear in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth slots. The fourth player listed is Jim Brewer. Taken at face value, this would suggest that Brewer started at guard, which makes little sense. Ignore Brewer, and the first five players listed (other than Brewer) are the expected starters, in the correct order.

At the time both of the above games were played, the Lakers had a stable starting lineup which had been static for at least the four previous games, and would remain static for at least the next three games. In both cases, it was the same group of five players (Chones, Wilkes, Abdul-Jabbar, Cooper, Nixon). I am assuming that these players started the games on 11/29/80 and 2/20/81.

NOTES/DISCREPANCIES

From the TSN box scores, after making the assumptions discussed above, I am getting the following games started totals for the season:

Wilkes 81
Abdul-Jabbar 80
Nixon 77
Chones 75
Cooper 40
Johnson 35
Carter 14
Brewer 8

As with the other teams for which we have no media guide numbers, I’m pretty confident that the games started numbers I’m coming up with are at least good estimates. But there are a few anomalies in the TSN boxes that I wish I had a media guide to square up with. Why would Cooper have started instead of Nixon on 10/25/80 and 12/21/80? Did Wilkes and Cooper really swap positions (Wilkes staring at SG, Cooper at SF) on 1/13/81? Did the Lakers really move Wilkes to guard for one game on 3/1/81, the last game before Magic Johnson returned to the starting lineup following his injury? Without media guide numbers to compare to, it’s hard to hold my games started numbers out as exact.

PLAYOFFS

As far as I can see, the Lakers Media Guide does not have games started stats for the playoffs. The TSN boxes show the following:

Abdul-Jabbar 3
Johnson 3
Nixon 3
Wilkes 3
Cooper 2
Chones 1

This is largely consistent with which players started towards the end of the regular season, but a few changes are apparent. After Chones started Game 1, the TSN boxes show him going to the bench, with Cooper taking his place for Game 2. For Game 3, the TSN boxes show Johnson moving to forward, with Cooper shifting to guard. While not necessarily what I would have expected to see, these moves seem plausible, especially when you consider that the Lakers were in the process of being upset in the First Round. Chones’ minutes were down significantly for the playoffs, which is also consistent with his having been benched. Again, it would be nice to have data in a media guide to check this against, but I’m assuming that the info indicated by the TSN box scores is correct.
Last edited by MCT on Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:22 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:54 pm

LOS ANGELES LAKERS – PART II

PLAYER INFORMATION

Players are listed based on a snapshot as of late February, after Magic Johnson had returned to the active roster, with starters as of early March, after Johnson had returned to the starting lineup. While this is a later point than most of our snapshots have been, I think it makes more sense to look at a lineup with Magic in it than one without him.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR

History: 1st round pick of Bucks in 1969, as Lew Alcindor. Acquired in trade with Bucks, June 1975.

Games Played (Regular Season 80 G, 37.2 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 44.7 MPG): The two games in which Abdul-Jabbar did not appear were two consecutive games on 10/15/80 & 10/17/80. These were the Lakers’ third and fourth games of the season.

Games Started (Regular Season: 80; Playoffs: 3): Abdul-Jabbar started every game he played in.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center. Primary position is shown as C for all seasons of career.

JAMAAL WILKES

History: 1st round pick of Warriors in 1974, as Keith Wilkes. Signed as Veteran Free Agent, July 1977 (compensation owed to Warriors).

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 37.4 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 37.7 MPG): The only game in which Wilkes did not appear was on 3/20/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 81; Playoffs: 3): Wilkes started every game he played in. If the TSN box scores can be trusted, 79 of Wilkes’ regular season starts were at forward, and 2 were at guard. The two games the TSN boxes show Wilkes starting at guard were on 1/13/81 and 3/1/81.

The 1/13 game fell during the period when Magic Johnson was out with an injury, and Michael Cooper was starting at guard in his place. The TSN box score indicates that, for that one game, Wilkes and Cooper swapped places, with Cooper starting at forward and Wilkes starting at guard. It’s possible that the box score is wrong, and has Wilkes and Cooper erroneously listed in each other’s positions. They do not appear on adjacent lines of the box score, though, so it isn’t just a simple matter of two lines being out of order. In addition, it isn’t implausible that Cooper would be used at SF and Wilkes at SG.

The 3/1 game fell after Johnson had returned, but before he was back in the starting lineup (this was the last game before Johnson went back to starting). Cooper, who had been starting at SG in Johnson’s absence, did not play in this game. To cover for Cooper, Wilkes shifted to guard, and Jim Brewer covered Wilkes’ absence at forward. By the next game, Johnson was ready to move back into the starting lineup, and Cooper was available to play, so things went back to normal.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for all seasons of career, including 1980-81, except for one (1976-77, which is shown as PF).

EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON

History: 1st round pick of Lakers in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 37 G, 37.1 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 42.3 MPG): The 37 regular season games Johnson played in were the first 20 games (through 11/18/80) and the last 17 games (from 2/27/81 on). In between, he missed 45 games. Johnson’s absence was due to a knee injury suffered in a game against the Kings on 11/18/80. I believe that he was on the injured list for most of the time he was out, from approximately 11/20/80 to approximately 2/26/81. After Johnson got injured, the Lakers traded for Eddie Jordan to fill in for him. When Johnson returned, Jordan stayed on the active roster, and little-used Alan Hardy was placed on the IL to make room.

Games Started (Regular Season: 35; Playoffs: 3): The two games Johnson played in but did not start were his first two games back after his injury (2/27/81 & 3/1/81). He returned to the starting lineup after that. All of Johnson’s regular season starts, as well as in the first two playoff games, were at guard. If the TSN box scores can be trusted, he started the Lakers’ final playoff game at forward, as the Lakers apparently shuffled their lineup in an attempt to avoid an upset. Regular starting forward Jim Chones had been benched in favor of Michael Cooper for Game 2. Cooper and Johnson then swapped places for Game 3.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons through 1982-83, including 1980-81; as PG for all seasons from 1983-84 through his initial retirement after 1990-91; and as PF during his brief comeback in 1995-96.

NORM NIXON

History: 1st round pick of Lakers in 1977.

Games Played (Regular Season 79 G, 37.5 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 44.3 MPG): The three games in which Nixon did not appear were on 11/16/80, and two consecutive games on 3/27/81 & 3/28/81. The games on 3/27 and 3/28 were the Lakers’ third-to-last and second-to-last games of the regular season. Nixon returned to the lineup for the last game on 3/29.

Games Started (Regular Season: 77; Playoffs: 3): According to the TSN box scores, Nixon played but did not start on 10/25/80 and 12/21/80. Michael Cooper is shown starting both of these games in Nixon’s place, for reasons that aren’t obvious to me.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

JIM CHONES

History: Began pro career in ABA, 1972. Acquired in trade with Cavaliers, October 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 82 G, 31.2 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 22.3 MPG): Chones appeared in every game the Lakers played.

Games Started (Regular Season: 75; Playoffs: 1): The seven regular season games that Chones played in but did not start were seven consecutive games from 12/7/80 through 12/19/80. During this period, Chones went to the bench and was replaced in the starting lineup by Jim Brewer. Based on the TSN box scores, Chones started 73 regular-season games at forward and 2 at center. His two starts at center were the two games Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did not play in on 10/15/80 & 10/17/80. In the playoffs, Chones started only Game 1 (at forward) before moving to the bench.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Center-Forward. Primary position is shown as C for most seasons of career, but is PF for two seasons, including 1980-81 (the other is his rookie season in the ABA, 1972-73). I can’t speak for how Chones was used in other seasons, but I think b-r.com’s assessment that Chones’ primary position this year was PF is correct, although he likely saw significant time at both PF and C.

MICHAEL COOPER

History: 3rd round pick of Lakers in 1978.

Games Played (Regular Season 81 G, 32.4 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 34.0 MPG): The only game in which Cooper did not appear was on 3/1/81.

Games Started (Regular Season: 40; Playoffs: 2): The 40 regular season games Cooper started, according to the TSN box scores, were two consecutive games on 10/15/80 & 10/17/80; 10/25/80; 11/16/80; eight consecutive games from 11/20/80 through 12/6/80; 12/21/80; 24 consecutive games from 1/6/81 through 2/27/81; 3/20/81; and two consecutive games on 3/27/81 & 3/28/81. 36 of these starts are shown at guard, and 4 at forward. Further details:

--10/15 & 10/17: Regular starting center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did not play in these games. Jim Chones was shifted from forward to center to cover for Abdul-Jabbar, and Cooper started at forward to cover for Chones.

--10/25: Cooper started at guard in place of regular starter Norm Nixon. Why this was done is not obvious to me, as Nixon played in this game.

--11/16: Cooper started at guard in place of Nixon, who did not play in this game.

--11/20 to 12/6: Cooper started these eight games at guard in place of Magic Johnson, who had been injured in the Lakers’ last game before this stretch, and would be out until late February. After 12/6, Cooper went to the bench, and rookie Butch Carter replaced him in the starting lineup. I would guess that this was done less as a benching of Cooper and more to free up Cooper to be used in his customary sixth man role.

--12/21: Cooper started at guard in place of Norm Nixon. Why this was done is not obvious to me, as Nixon played in this game.

--1/6 to 2/27: Beginning with the game on 1/6, the Lakers flipped back to what they had been doing in late November and early December, starting Cooper at guard as Magic Johnson’s fill-in, and returning Butch Carter to the bench. If the TSN box scores can be trusted, for one game on 1/13 Cooper swapped places with Jamaal Wilkes, with Cooper starting at SF and Wilkes starting at SG. This streak of starts was snapped by the game Cooper did not play in on 3/1. Cooper was back for the next game after that, but Johnson returned to the starting lineup, ending the need to have someone start in his place.

--3/20: Cooper started at forward in place of regular starter Jamaal Wilkes, who did not play in this game.

--3/27 & 3/28: Cooper started at guard in place of Norm Nixon, who did not play in these games. These were the Lakers’ third-to-last and second-to-last games of the season.

In the playoffs, the TSN box scores show Cooper playing off the bench in Game 1; starting Game 2 at forward, with Jim Chones going to the bench; and starting Game 3 at guard, with Magic Johnson moving to forward.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard-Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

MARK LANDSBERGER

History: 2nd round pick of Bulls in 1977. Acquired in trade with Bulls, February 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 69 G, 15.7 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 10.7 MPG): The 13 games in which Landsberger did not appear were 13 consecutive games from 11/8/80 through 12/3/80. For much of that stretch, Landsberger was on the injured list. While Landsberger was out, Myles Patrick seems to have been activated from the IL to take his place on the roster; when Landsberger returned, Patrick was apparently waived.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): Landsberger did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career, including 1980-81, except for one (1979-80, which is shown as C).

EDDIE JORDAN

History: 2nd round pick of Cavaliers in 1977. Acquired in trade with Nets, November 1980.

Jordan started the season with the Nets, but was traded to the Lakers on 11/20/80 for a 1982 1st round pick. He was acquired to bolster the team’s backcourt depth after Magic Johnson was lost for an extended period due to an injury. The Lakers appear to have made room on the active roster for Jordan by placing Johnson on the IL. When Johnson returned in late February, Jordan remained on the active roster. To make room for Johnson, the Lakers instead placed little-used Alan Hardy on the IL.

Games Played (Regular Season 60 G, 16.5 MPG; Playoffs 2 G, 2.0 MPG): Jordan made his Lakers debut on 11/21/80, the day after he was acquired. As of that date, the Lakers had 61 games remaining in the regular season, and Jordan played in all but one. The one exception was the game on 3/22/81. (The Lakers had also played a game on the day of the trade, 11/20/80, in which Jordan did not appear; I don’t know if he was officially on the team’s roster yet at the time of that game.) Jordan had played in 14 games for the Nets prior to the trade, giving him a total of 74 regular season games played for the year.

Like much of the Lakers’ bench, Jordan saw very little court time in the playoffs, with the Lakers fighting for their postseason lives in a best-of-three series against Houston. Jordan played a total of four minutes, across Games 1 & 2 of the series. He did not play in Game 3.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): Jordan did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG for all seasons of career.

JIM BREWER

History: 1st round pick of Cavaliers in 1973. Acquired in trade with Blazers, October 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 78 G, 14.2 MPG; Playoffs 3 G, 2.3 MPG): The four regular season games in which Brewer did not appear were on 10/10/80 (opening night), 1/21/81, 3/15/81, and 3/21/81.

Brewer is credited with appearing in all three of the Lakers’ playoff games, but he only appears in two of the playoff box scores. He is absent from the TSN box score for the game on 4/3/81 (Game 2 of the series against Houston). It is possible that Brewer played in that game but was omitted because he did not compile any stats that would have been shown in the box score. b-r.com’s game log feature actually lists Brewer as appearing in this game. I’m not sure if Dick Pfander or b-r.com noticed the discrepancy and was able to verify elsewhere that Brewer really did appear in this game, or if they just made an assumption that he must have played in this game if his official games played total for the playoffs is accurate. (If Brewer really did play in three playoff games, the latter obviously must be true; he has to have played in this game.) Brewer saw just seven minutes of playing time during the postseason.

Games Started (Regular Season: 8; Playoffs: 0): The eight games Brewer started were seven consecutive games from 12/7/80 through 12/19/80, and one additional game on 3/1/81. The first seven games represent a period when regular starter Jim Chones was moved to the bench, and Brewer put into the starting lineup instead. After seven games, Chones returned to the starting lineup, and Brewer went back to the bench. The game on 3/1 fell during a period when Magic Johnson was out of the starting lineup due to his injury (it was the last game before he returned to the starting lineup). Michael Cooper, who had been filling in for Johnson, did not play in this game. Regular starting forward Jamaal Wilkes was shifted to guard to cover, and Brewer started at forward to cover for Wilkes.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward-Center. Primary position is shown as PF for all seasons of career.

BUTCH CARTER

History: 2nd round pick of Lakers in 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 54 G, 12.4 MPG; Playoffs 0 G): I’m not going to list out exactly which games Carter appeared in and which he didn’t, but his appearances in the TSN box scores do add up to his official games played total.

Carter’s season breaks into three parts. He started off the season by playing in just 7 of the Lakers’ first 18 games. During that period, he was on the injured list from 11/5/80 to approximately 11/15/80 (while Carter was out, Tony Jackson was activated from the IL to take his place on the roster; when Carter returned, Jackson was apparently waived). Carter then played in 39 of the 42 games the Lakers played between 11/16/80 and 2/15/81 (the three games he was absent from during that stretch were three consecutive games from 1/14/81 through 1/18/81). Following that, of the Lakers’ 22 remaining regular season games, Carter played in just 8. Carter’s turn as a near-everyday player probably came about due to Magic Johnson’s injury, as it is largely coextensive with the period Johnson was out.

Neither Carter nor Alan Hardy appeared during the Lakers’ brief playoff run, when the team used only ten players. One of the two must have been inactive, while the other was on the active roster for the playoffs but did not play in any games. I have no documentation of which was which, but I believe that Hardy was likely inactive (he had finished the regular season on the IL), while Carter was likely the player who was on the active roster but didn’t play.

Games Started (Regular Season: 14; Playoffs: 0): Carter started 14 consecutive games from 12/7/80 through 1/2/81, all at guard. This was during the period when Magic Johnson was out. When Johnson initially got injured, the Lakers started Michael Cooper for a time, then switched to Carter as the starter for about four weeks, then went back to Cooper again.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SF for 1980-81, which was Carter’s rookie season, then SG for the remaining five seasons of his NBA career. Note that Carter’s primary position for 1980-81 is shown as SF even though the header doesn’t indicate that Carter played forward at all; while I cannot definitively prove or disprove it, I am skeptical of b-r.com’s conclusion that Carter’s primary position this year was SF rather than SG.

BRAD HOLLAND

History: 1st round pick of Lakers in 1979.

Games Played (Regular Season 41 G, 7.2 MPG; Playoffs 1 G, 1.0 MPG): I’m not going to list out exactly which games Holland appeared in and which he didn’t, but his appearances in the TSN box scores do add up to his official games played total. Holland played more frequently in the early part of the season, and to a lesser degree in the later part of the season, than he did in the middle. He appeared in 19 of the Lakers’ first 23 games, then just 10 of the next 39, before closing out the regular season by appearing in 12 of the last 20 games. Note that Magic Johnson’s injury does not seem to have resulted in Holland getting more playing time, as the time when Johnson was out falls largely into the period when Holland was playing the least. Holland saw just one minute of action in the playoffs, in Game 1.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0; Playoffs: 0): Holland did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career.

INJURED LIST:

ALAN HARDY

History: Eligible for 1979 NBA Draft but was not selected. Signed as a free agent, August 1980.

Games Played (Regular Season 22 G, 5.0 MPG): I’m not going to list out exactly which games Hardy appeared in and which he didn’t, but his appearances in the TSN box scores do add up to his official games played total. Hardy did not appear in any games after 2/20/81. Shortly thereafter, when Magic Johnson returned from his injury, Hardy apparently suffered a conveniently timed injury of his own, and was placed on the IL. He remained there for the rest of the season. I believe that Hardy likely remained inactive for the playoffs; he didn’t appear in any playoff games, in any event. Hardy played more frequently in the early part of the season, appearing in 14 of the Lakers’ first 22 games. After that, he played in just 8 of the remaining 44 games the Lakers played before Johnson’s return.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Hardy did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SG for all seasons of career. Note the conflict, that Hardy’s primary position for both of his NBA seasons is shown as SG even though the header doesn’t indicate that Hardy played guard at all. I think that Hardy’s actual position was likely forward.

NO LONGER WITH TEAM:

TONY JACKSON

History: 4th round pick of Lakers in 1980.

Jackson started the season with the Lakers, but was waived in mid-November. As discussed earlier, there is a discrepancy as to exactly what date Jackson was waived, but he seems to have been off the active roster no later than 11/16/80. The two games Jackson appeared in were the only NBA games he would ever play in.

Games Played (Regular Season 2 G, 7.0 MPG): Jackson started the season on the injured list, and wasn’t activated until 11/5/80, when Butch Carter went on the IL. During the period between that point and the time he was waived, the Lakers played approximately five games. Jackson played in the first (11/7/80) and third (11/11/80). Jackson seems to have been waived when Carter returned to the active roster.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Jackson did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Guard. Primary position is shown as PG; this is the only season that Jackson played in the NBA.

MYLES PATRICK

History: Eligible for 1978 NBA Draft but was not selected. Signed as a free agent, August 1980.

Jackson started the season with the Lakers, but per the NBA Register was waived on 12/2/80, at the contract-guarantee deadline (note: there is some question about whether 12/2 is the correct date, as discussed earlier). The three games Patrick appeared in were the only NBA games he would ever play in.

Games Played (Regular Season 3 G, 3.0 MPG): Patrick started the season on the injured list. He appears to have been activated on 11/11/80, when Mark Landsberger went on the IL. Patrick appeared in two consecutive games on 11/14/80 & 11/16/80, then after being absent from the next two games, appeared in a third game on 11/21/80. Patrick did not play in any of the four additional games the Lakers played between 11/21 and the point when he was reportedly waived on 12/2. Patrick was presumably waived due to some combination of the looming contract-guarantee deadline and of Landsberger being ready to return.

Games Started (Regular Season: 0): Patrick did not start any games.

b-r.com position info: Position in old b-r.com header is listed as Forward. Primary position is shown as SF; this is the only season that Patrick played in the NBA.
Last edited by MCT on Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Fri Sep 11, 2015 4:56 pm

LOS ANGELES LAKERS – PART III

PLAYERS BY POSITION

STARTERS

The Lakers had a stable starting lineup throughout the season at four positions: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center; Jim Chones and Jamaal Wilkes at forward; and Norm Nixon at one guard position. At the other guard position, Magic Johnson was clearly the intended starter, but he missed about half of the season with an injury. While he was out, Michael Cooper (and, for a short time, Butch Carter) filled in for him. We’ve timed our snapshot for after Johnson’s return to the lineup.

At forward, b-r.com has Chones as the PF and Wilkes as the SF. That seems pretty clear-cut. What’s interesting, though, is that Chones is listed with a primary position of C almost every other season of his career, and no reserve on this year’s Lakers team is shown with a primary position of center. I would guess that the Lakers were using Chones in a role similar to that of Caldwell Jones on the 76ers, where he would start games at PF, but would swing over to center with the game in progress, effectively serving as both the starting PF and backup C.

At guard, b-r.com has Nixon as the PG and Johnson as the SG. I’d say that both of these guys were really PGs, but they obviously played alongside each other for several years, and we can label only one of them as the PG. As much as Johnson is one of the first guys who come to mind when I hear the phrase “point guard”, I think it makes sense to label the versatile, multitalented Johnson as the SG, so I agree with b-r.com’s designations. Like a few other players we’ve encountered (Larry Bird and Marques Johnson come to mind), Johnson is hard to pigeonhole into a single position, while Nixon seems more strictly a classic point guard. For what it’s worth, Johnson had slightly more rebounds than assists this year, finishing second on the team in per-game average for both categories. I am curious as to how Johnson and Nixon were used in relation to one another. When they were both in the game, who brought the ball up the floor? Did they go to the bench opposite each other, so that one of them was on the floor at all times?

The Lakers had a very top-heavy rotation. All five starters averaged over 30 minutes per game, as did super-sub/fill-in Michael Cooper. Four of the five starters actually averaged at least 37 mpg. To be fair, that includes Johnson, whose mpg is based on only half a season, and whose absence may have caused some of the other starters to play heavier minutes while he was out. While the playoffs represent only a three-game sample, the effect was even more pronounced then, with Abdul-Jabbar, Nixon and Johnson averaging at least 42 mpg, Wilkes 37.7, and Cooper 34.0. The benched Chones dropped to 22.3 mpg for the playoffs, but he was the only player beyond the first five to average more than 10.7 mpg.

RESERVES

The top-heavy theme wasn’t limited to the starters. It applied to the reserves as well. The reserve who played the most minutes, by far, was Michael Cooper (32.4 mpg). That’s a little unfair, because Cooper undoubtedly played heavier minutes while Magic Johnson was out. But I think he would have been the most heavily used reserve by a wide margin no matter what. He was clearly the Lakers’ “sixth man”. Cooper’s primary position was SG, but he also likely saw significant minutes at SF.

Next in the rotation come Eddie Jordan (16.5 mpg), Mark Landsberger (15.7 mpg), and Jim Brewer (14.8 mpg). Each were everyday players and saw significant minutes, although their minutes played are not especially heavy for a team’s second-, third- and fourth-most used reserves, a side effect of so many minutes being played by the starters and Cooper. Jordan was a PG, acquired to shore up that role when Magic Johnson got hurt. Landsberger and Brewer were both PFs. The explanation for having two PFs so high in the rotation seems to be that starting PF Jim Chones was also the backup center, opening up room for two backups at PF. It’s also possible that Landsberger and Brewer played a little center themselves, with Landsberger the more likely of the two. In the Lakers’ three-game appearance in the playoffs, the bench grew even shorter than it had been during the regular season. Landsberger was the only one of this group to see significant playing time (10.7 mpg). Brewer played a total (not average) of seven minutes, Jordan four.

Throughout the season, the Lakers always seem to have had a couple of guys at the end of the bench who weren’t playing all that much. There just weren’t many minutes left when you get down to this part of the roster. In our snapshot period, those players were Brad Holland and Butch Carter. Holland was an SG. It looks like he was in the rotation early in the season, but later fell out, and really didn’t play all that much for the season as a whole (41 games, 7.2 mpg). Holland saw just one minute of playing time during the playoffs. Carter is an interesting case. He didn’t play much early on, played much more while Magic Johnson was out, then fell to the end of the bench after Magic returned. Carter did not appear at all during the playoffs. His numbers for the whole season don’t look too bad (54 g, 12.4 mpg), but it all depends on what part of the season you’re talking about. b-r.com lists Carter’s primary position for this season as SF, despite virtually all other evidence pointing to his having been a guard. No other reserve is listed with a primary position of SF, which may be why b-r.com concluded that SF was his primary position. It’s hard to tell how many minutes Carter played where, so I can’t prove or disprove whether SF was his primary position, but he must have played at least some SG (he started 14 games at guard during the period when Magic Johnson was out).

We’re using the period after Magic Johnson returned for our snapshot, but the roles of several players varied depending on whether you’re looking at the period before Magic got hurt, while he out, or after he was returned. This how things look to me:

Before Magic got hurt: Starters – Nixon, Johnson; Regular Reserves – Cooper, Holland; Deep Reserves – Hardy, Carter; Not on active roster – Jordan (not yet acquired).

While Magic was out: Starters – Nixon, Cooper; Regular Reserves – Jordan, Carter; Deep Reserves – Holland, Hardy; Not on active roster – Johnson (IL).

After Magic came back: Starters – Nixon, Johnson; Regular Reserves – Cooper, Jordan; Deep Reserves – Holland, Carter; Not on active roster – Hardy (IL).

POSITION NOTES

Center-Forwards

A lot of teams have players listed by b-r.com as playing both center and (power) forward, and it isn’t always obvious who played how many minutes where. The Lakers had three such players. Jim Chones is listed as C-F; Mark Landsberger and Jim Brewer are listed as F-C. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only player listed exclusively as a C, or shown with a primary position of C. Chones is shown with a primary position of C almost every other season of his career, but 1980-81 is PF.

My guess is that Chones was originally acquired to be the backup C, but after Spencer Haywood was let go, he was pressed into a dual role of starting PF and backup C, somewhat like Caldwell Jones with the 76ers. Unlike Jones, who started at PF but almost certainly saw more playing time at C, Chones almost certainly saw more time at PF. If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played exclusively at center, that would leave 985 minutes for Chones at center. Subtracting that from Chones’ minutes played total leaves him playing 1577 minutes at forward. If Chones played 1577 minutes at PF, that would leave enough minutes to accommodate both Brewer (1107 minutes) and Landsberger (1086 minutes) at that position. The three figures added together account for just 191 fewer minutes than the 3961 that would have been available at one forward slot. 191 minutes is only a couple of minutes a game, and could easily represent lineups with two SFs on the floor, e.g., Wilkes and Cooper.

While it’s possible that one or more of these players was used interchangeably, my guess is that Chones covered virtually all of the minutes available at backup center, while Brewer and Landsberger stuck more-or-less exclusively to PF, with Landsberger possibly playing a little at center when someone other than Abdul-Jabbar or Chones was needed. As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

During the Lakers' brief playoff appearance, the frontline starters played heavier minutes, and Chones was essentially benched in favor of Michael Cooper. As a result of those factors, his playing time dropped by about 9 mpg compared to the regular season. Chones probably still covered the backup minutes at center, but there weren't many available, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the floor for all but ten minutes (3.3. mpg). This likely shifted Chones' playing time even more heavily towards forward than in the regular season.

Forward-Guards

The Lakers had three players listed at these two positions. Jamaal Wilkes is listed as G-F, while Michael Cooper and Magic Johnson are listed as G-F. Then there are the curious cases of Butch Carter and Alan Hardy. b-r.com shows Carter’s primary position this year as SF, even though his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a guard, and his primary position is shown as SG for every other season of his career. b-r.com shows Hardy’s primary position as SG for both of the two seasons he played in the NBA, even though his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a forward.

With so many variables, it’s hard to work out exactly who played how many minutes at which position. If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Lakers whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Lakers whose primary position was guard, you’ll find a deficit of 443 minutes in the frontcourt and an overage of 443 minutes at guard. From that starting point, here’s my sense as to how each of these players was used, starting off with the two players whose b-r.com data send mixed signals as to what position they played:

--Alan Hardy’s primary position is shown as SG for both seasons he played in the NBA, but his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a forward. I think Hardy was actually a forward. Hardy was 6’7, and for the season he had 19 rebounds against just 3 assists. When he signed with the Lakers during the summer of 1980, the transaction column reporting the signing in the Globe identified Hardy as a forward. So did the Google News Archive article cited earlier which mentioned Hardy being placed on the IL to make room for Magic Johnson. Based on that, b-r.com’s current designation of Hardy as an SG may be in error. Hardy didn’t really play enough to have a major impact on the equation, but if we move his 111 minutes played from the guard column to the forward column, the overage at guard drops to 332 minutes.

--Butch Carter’s primary position is shown as SF, even though his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a guard, his primary position is shown as SG for every other season of his career, and the TSN box scores show Carter starting 14 games at guard. The transaction column in the Globe reporting Carter being placed on the IL on 11/5/80 also identifies him as a guard. With so much evidence pointing to Carter as a guard, I am a bit skeptical of b-r.com’s designation of him as an SF, although it is difficult to prove or disprove how much Carter played where. I am really curious as to why b-r.com concluded that Carter’s primary position was SF. Was it simply because no other reserve had a position of SF, and their formula required that someone be assigned to that slot, or did they have some concrete reason for thinking Carter played SF? I have to think that, at the very least, Carter must have played a significant percentage of his minutes at guard. I’m not convinced that he actually played any forward at all. To the extent that Carter played guard, that would increase the overage at that position. I’d say it increases the overage to at least 500 or 600 minutes – possibly as many as 1000 minutes, if Carter didn’t play forward at all.

--My sense is that Jamaal Wilkes stuck mostly to playing forward, only moving to guard for short stretches or on an as-needed basis (like in the game on 3/1, when neither Johnson nor Cooper were available to start). He would have been needed at SF, and the Lakers had other players who could cover SG, even in Magic Johnson’s absence. I would be surprised if Wilkes played any more than a few hundred of his 3000+ minutes at guard.

--Similarly, my sense is that Magic Johnson stuck mostly to playing guard, only moving to forward for short stretches or if the Lakers wanted to put their five best players on the floor regardless of position (as in the final game of the playoff series against Houston). I would be surprised if Johnson played significant minutes at forward during the regular season.

--I think that sixth man Michael Cooper played primarily SG, but also saw significant time at SF, probably enough that he was effectively the main backup at both positions. I won’t dispute that SG was Cooper’s main position. b-r.com shows that as his primary position for every season of his career, and the Lakers presumably would have had a heavy need to use Cooper there this year due to Magic Johnson’s extended absence. But I think of Cooper as a swingman, and other factors suggest that he also saw significant time at SF. For one thing, Cooper started four games at forward. In addition, aside from possibly Butch Carter (see discussion above), the Lakers don’t appear to have had any other backups who played significant minutes at SF. As with everyone else, it’s hard to say definitively how many of Cooper’s 2625 minutes he played at each position. But in the most forward-centric scenario – Carter doesn’t play forward at all, Wilkes plays 200+ minutes at guard – I would see Cooper playing 1000 to 1200 minutes at forward, which would still leave a clear majority of his minutes at guard. At the other end of the spectrum, in the most guard-centric scenario, I don’t see Cooper playing any fewer than about 500 minutes at forward, which would still be about 20% of his playing time.

During the Lakers' brief playoff appearance, Jim Chones appears to have been benched in favor of Cooper, which may have swung Cooper's playing time more heavily towards forward. If you take all the players on the Lakers except Cooper, and break them into two groups, one whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and one whose primary position was in the backcourt, you'll find that there are 79 minutes unaccounted for in the frontcourt, and 23 in the backcourt. At first glance, this would seem to represent how many minutes Cooper played at each position. But Magic Johnson may have played some minutes at forward, as the TSN box scores show him starting Game 3 there, so those numbers may make it look like Cooper played more forward than he actually did. I think that Cooper likely played the majority of his playoff minutes at forward, though.

As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

PGs and SGs

In looking at the guard lineup the Lakers started the season with, I’m struck that there was no backup PG on the roster. Nixon started at PG, Johnson at SG; all backcourt reserves (Cooper, Holland, the little-used Carter, Hardy if he really played guard) were SGs. I take it that either Johnson took over the PG role when Nixon wasn’t in the game, or someone else (Cooper?) was capable of playing PG for stretches.

After Magic got injured, the Lakers acquired Eddie Jordan, thus going with a more conventional lineup where Jordan served as the backup PG.

TRIVIA

Oldest Player: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born 4/16/47 (age 33 throughout the season, turned 34 while playoffs were in progress, but after Lakers had been eliminated).

Played in ABA: Jim Chones.

Longest continuous service with team: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with the team since the 1975-76 season.

Highest original draft position*: #1 overall – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.

Lowest original draft position*: Alan Hardy and Myles Patrick were not drafted at all, two of only a handful of players in the NBA this year who could make that claim; back when the NBA Draft used to run 10 rounds or more, very few undrafted players ever made it to the NBA. Among players who were actually drafted, the lowest picked in terms of both round and overall pick position was Tony Jackson (4th round, #87 overall).

Youngest Player: Magic Johnson, born 8/14/59 (age 21 throughout the season). Johnson was in his second year in the NBA, but had turned pro following his sophomore year of college. He would have been a senior in college this season had he stayed in school.

*Which player was chosen with the highest/lowest selection, by round and/or overall pick, with no regard to whether any players may have been drafted under circumstances not reflecting their “true” value (e.g., player was a junior eligible who had not committed to turn pro right away, player was already under contract to ABA).
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Re: 1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby Mike Hamel » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:11 pm

The 1981-82 Lakers media guide lists games started. Their list matches yours except for Nixon and Cooper:

Nixon 79
Cooper 38
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Re: 1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:31 pm

Thanks for that information, Mike. In my analysis of each player's games started, I had noted that there were two games the TSN box scores show Cooper starting in place of Nixon for no obvious reason (Nixon played in both games, and in all of the surrounding games). The two games were on 10/25/80 and 12/21/80. Those games are probably the source of the discrepancy. Nixon probably did start these games, not Cooper.

I checked the scans of the actual TSN box scores on b-r.com. In the 12/21/80 game, Cooper is the fifth player listed, while Nixon is sixth. It’s possible that the two are simply listed out of order, something which seems to happen occasionally with the TSN box scores. That isn’t the case with the 10/25/80 game, though. In that box score, Nixon is the sixth player listed, but Cooper is fourth. Magic Johnson is fifth. So that one isn’t just a simple matter of Nixon and Cooper being listed out of order.
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Re: 1980-81 Los Angeles Lakers Games Played/Started & Transa

Postby MCT » Mon Aug 21, 2017 4:30 pm

A while back, Mike G. posted some material in the Spurs thread, with position information for 1980-81 sourced from Neft & Cohen’s NBA Encyclopedia. I recently posted about this in the introductory thread to this series, noting that I planned to post and comment on this data on a team-by-team basis. See the eighth post in the introductory thread for more information.

Here’s what Neft & Cohen have for the Lakers:

Mike Goodman wrote:
Code: Select all
tm    player          pos   Min     PO   Min
LA   Jamaal Wilkes     F   3028      F   113
LA Kareem Abdul-Jabbar C   2976      C   134
LA   Norm Nixon        G   2962      G   133
LA   Michael Cooper   gf   2625     Gf   102
LA   Jim Chones       Fc   2562     fc    67
LA   Magic Johnson     G   1371     Fg   127
LA   Jim Brewer        f   1107         
LA   Mark Landsberger  f   1086      f    32
LA   Eddie Jordan      g    987         
LA   Butch Carter      g    672         
LA   Brad Holland      g    295         
LA   Alan Hardy        f    111         


MCT wrote:A lot of teams have players listed by b-r.com as playing both center and (power) forward, and it isn’t always obvious who played how many minutes where. The Lakers had three such players. Jim Chones is listed as C-F; Mark Landsberger and Jim Brewer are listed as F-C. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only player listed exclusively as a C, or shown with a primary position of C. Chones is shown with a primary position of C almost every other season of his career, but 1980-81 is PF.

My guess is that Chones was originally acquired to be the backup C, but after Spencer Haywood was let go, he was pressed into a dual role of starting PF and backup C, somewhat like Caldwell Jones with the 76ers. Unlike Jones, who started at PF but almost certainly saw more playing time at C, Chones almost certainly saw more time at PF. If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played exclusively at center, that would leave 985 minutes for Chones at center. Subtracting that from Chones’ minutes played total leaves him playing 1577 minutes at forward. If Chones played 1577 minutes at PF, that would leave enough minutes to accommodate both Brewer (1107 minutes) and Landsberger (1086 minutes) at that position. The three figures added together account for just 191 fewer minutes than the 3961 that would have been available at one forward slot. 191 minutes is only a couple of minutes a game, and could easily represent lineups with two SFs on the floor, e.g., Wilkes and Cooper.

While it’s possible that one or more of these players was used interchangeably, my guess is that Chones covered virtually all of the minutes available at backup center, while Brewer and Landsberger stuck more-or-less exclusively to PF, with Landsberger possibly playing a little at center when someone other than Abdul-Jabbar or Chones was needed. As always, I would be interested in any information anyone has about how these players were used, this season or elsewhere in their careers.

During the Lakers' brief playoff appearance, the frontline starters played heavier minutes, and Chones was essentially benched in favor of Michael Cooper. As a result of those factors, his playing time dropped by about 9 mpg compared to the regular season. Chones probably still covered the backup minutes at center, but there weren't many available, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the floor for all but ten minutes (3.3. mpg). This likely shifted Chones' playing time even more heavily towards forward than in the regular season.

Neft & Cohen seem to be basically in agreement with all of the above. They have Chones as “Fc”, while they have Landsberger and Brewer as exclusively forwards.

MCT wrote: The Lakers had three players listed at [both forward and guard]. Jamaal Wilkes is listed as G-F, while Michael Cooper and Magic Johnson are listed as G-F. Then there are the curious cases of Butch Carter and Alan Hardy. b-r.com shows Carter’s primary position this year as SF, even though his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a guard, and his primary position is shown as SG for every other season of his career. b-r.com shows Hardy’s primary position as SG for both of the two seasons he played in the NBA, even though his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a forward.

With so many variables, it’s hard to work out exactly who played how many minutes at which position. If you add up the minutes played by every player on the Lakers whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and you add up the minutes played for every player on the Lakers whose primary position was guard, you’ll find a deficit of 443 minutes in the frontcourt and an overage of 443 minutes at guard. From that starting point, here’s my sense as to how each of these players was used, starting off with the two players whose b-r.com data send mixed signals as to what position they played:

--Alan Hardy’s primary position is shown as SG for both seasons he played in the NBA, but his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a forward. I think Hardy was actually a forward. Hardy was 6’7, and for the season he had 19 rebounds against just 3 assists. When he signed with the Lakers during the summer of 1980, the transaction column reporting the signing in the Globe identified Hardy as a forward. So did the Google News Archive article cited earlier which mentioned Hardy being placed on the IL to make room for Magic Johnson. Based on that, b-r.com’s current designation of Hardy as an SG may be in error. Hardy didn’t really play enough to have a major impact on the equation, but if we move his 111 minutes played from the guard column to the forward column, the overage at guard drops to 332 minutes.

Neft & Cohen agree that Hardy was a forward. They have him as “f”. Note that this contradicts b-r.com’s identification of Hardy’s primary position as SG (which I had disputed in my previous analysis).

MCT wrote:--Butch Carter’s primary position is shown as SF, even though his old b-r.com header lists him exclusively as a guard, his primary position is shown as SG for every other season of his career, and the TSN box scores show Carter starting 14 games at guard. The transaction column in the Globe reporting Carter being placed on the IL on 11/5/80 also identifies him as a guard. With so much evidence pointing to Carter as a guard, I am a bit skeptical of b-r.com’s designation of him as an SF, although it is difficult to prove or disprove how much Carter played where. I am really curious as to why b-r.com concluded that Carter’s primary position was SF. Was it simply because no other reserve had a position of SF, and their formula required that someone be assigned to that slot, or did they have some concrete reason for thinking Carter played SF? I have to think that, at the very least, Carter must have played a significant percentage of his minutes at guard. I’m not convinced that he actually played any forward at all. To the extent that Carter played guard, that would increase the overage at that position. I’d say it increases the overage to at least 500 or 600 minutes – possibly as many as 1000 minutes, if Carter didn’t play forward at all.

Neft & Cohen are in line with my thinking here, as they have Carter as exclusively a guard. Note that this contradicts b-r.com’s identification of Carter’s primary position as SF (which I had disputed in my previous analysis).

MCT wrote:--My sense is that Jamaal Wilkes stuck mostly to playing forward, only moving to guard for short stretches or on an as-needed basis (like in the game on 3/1, when neither Johnson nor Cooper were available to start). He would have been needed at SF, and the Lakers had other players who could cover SG, even in Magic Johnson’s absence. I would be surprised if Wilkes played any more than a few hundred of his 3000+ minutes at guard.

Neft & Cohen have Wilkes as exclusively a forward.

MCT wrote:--Similarly, my sense is that Magic Johnson stuck mostly to playing guard, only moving to forward for short stretches or if the Lakers wanted to put their five best players on the floor regardless of position (as in the final game of the playoff series against Houston). I would be surprised if Johnson played significant minutes at forward during the regular season.

Consistent with this, Neft & Cohen have Johnson as “G” during the regular season, but “Fg” for the playoffs.

MCT wrote:--I think that sixth man Michael Cooper played primarily SG, but also saw significant time at SF, probably enough that he was effectively the main backup at both positions. I won’t dispute that SG was Cooper’s main position. b-r.com shows that as his primary position for every season of his career, and the Lakers presumably would have had a heavy need to use Cooper there this year due to Magic Johnson’s extended absence. But I think of Cooper as a swingman, and other factors suggest that he also saw significant time at SF. For one thing, Cooper started four games at forward. In addition, aside from possibly Butch Carter (see discussion above), the Lakers don’t appear to have had any other backups who played significant minutes at SF. As with everyone else, it’s hard to say definitively how many of Cooper’s 2625 minutes he played at each position. But in the most forward-centric scenario – Carter doesn’t play forward at all, Wilkes plays 200+ minutes at guard – I would see Cooper playing 1000 to 1200 minutes at forward, which would still leave a clear majority of his minutes at guard. At the other end of the spectrum, in the most guard-centric scenario, I don’t see Cooper playing any fewer than about 500 minutes at forward, which would still be about 20% of his playing time.

Consistent with this, Neft & Cohen have Cooper as “gf”.

MCT wrote:During the Lakers' brief playoff appearance, Jim Chones appears to have been benched in favor of Cooper, which may have swung Cooper's playing time more heavily towards forward. If you take all the players on the Lakers except Cooper, and break them into two groups, one whose primary position was in the frontcourt, and one whose primary position was in the backcourt, you'll find that there are 79 minutes unaccounted for in the frontcourt, and 23 in the backcourt. At first glance, this would seem to represent how many minutes Cooper played at each position. But Magic Johnson may have played some minutes at forward, as the TSN box scores show him starting Game 3 there, so those numbers may make it look like Cooper played more forward than he actually did. I think that Cooper likely played the majority of his playoff minutes at forward, though.

Neft & Cohen don’t agree that Cooper played more heavily at forward than at guard during the playoffs; they have him as “Gf”.
MCT
 
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