The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled in recent years, but the acquisition of Anthony Davis via trade and the rest of the roster in free agency has surrounded LeBron with a much more well-oiled machines than in years past. They’re sitting at 17-3 and 1st in the Western Conference, but how truly how good are the Lakers?
The structure of success around LeBron typically is seen as a lineup with three to four shooters depending on the center’s offensive ability to give Bron the space to drive. This really hurt the Lakers last year as their spacing was subpar almost all the time without many bonafide shooters.
This free agency, Lakers went out and signed Quinn Cook, Danny Green, Troy Daniels, and Jared Dudley; all of which can shoot the ball exceptionally, but as a team, it’s crucial to see how they’re playing.
The Lakers are attempting about 34% of their FGA from 3PT, which is 26th in the league. On that, they make about 36%, which is 13th in the league. To put this into perspective, the Lakers shoot about 30 threes a game. The Rockets, which lead the lead in 3PA shoot about 45 threes per game.
Now, it’s crucial to see where these points are coming from and which players may regress closer to the norm. For example, Dudley is shooting 57% from 3, but this is in a very small sample size due to his limited playing time.
Notable players in the Lakers rotation:
Quinn Cook: 36.4%
Troy Daniels: 30.9%
Rondo is hitting his threes at a high clip, which is crucial because he is being completely unguarded on almost all of his threes. Daniels is strictly a shooter and unless he hits his shots, his spot in the rotation should be limited.
A potential lineup of KCP, Green, LeBron, Kuzma, and AD could really cause some teams some problems in playoff crunch time, which we saw a little bit of against Memphis.
The Lakers are currently 8th in ORTG at 111 and 4th in DRTG at 102.9. Although the Lakers ORTG in the top 10, there are many moments when the Lakers look like there is no flow to the offense whatsoever. The first half against Chicago, first half against Memphis, and Sunday’s second half against Dallas all stand out as giant portions of a game where the Lakers just have nothing. This has happened throughout multiple games recently, but the Lakers were able to still grab wins solely on the backs of two superstars in LeBron and Davis. They were begging for a slap and Dallas finally gave it to them.
Lakers are 3rd in Isolation Points per game (via Synergy) behind the Rockets and Trail Blazers. Sometimes it simply comes down to giving the ball to AD or LeBron and get out of the way. It’s worked for awhile, but will it work come playoff time?
Many possession center around AD in the post, which is good. He is second in points per possession on post ups, behind Embiid. This let’s LeBron give AD some of the offensive load, which makes the Lakers that much harder to guard.
Vogel, Hollins, and Kidd were all much better defensive coaches than they were offensive coaches, so it is not completely surprising that there are periods of no offense. No blame is being placed on the coaching staff as they’ve had a direct connection to the great defense this squad is playing. After last season’s experience, this is a good sign for the Lakers.
Lakers have still played great team defense, which has led to many wins by itself. Look back at that Miami Heat game when Miami ran a zone against AD & Co. Not only did AD torch the zone, but they held Miami to 80 points. Bradley was a big part of that. As of November 31, he ranked 9th for SGs in Defensive Player Impact Plust Minus. Lakers also have Danny Green who ranks 2nd for SGs and Caruso who ranks 4th among PGs.
Overall, the rotations have been great from Vogel. A standard stagger of minutes to make sure LeBron or Davis is on the court at all times is critical to this team’s success. A lineup of Rondo, Daniels, KCP, Kuzma, Dwight would bleed points. Rondo and Daniels had a 10 minute span of playing time together (mainly due to Bradley’s injury). Together, they had a 110.5 ORTG and a 152.4 DRTG for a -41.9 NetRTG. Again, a small sample size, but probably should not happen again (gives off Pop’s Patty Mills/Marco vibes).
The Lakers have played the 24th easiest schedule in the league, with December really kicking it up. There’s good and bad to this. The Lakers are showing that they are beating the teams they SHOULD be beating. Our losses came Day 1 to the Clippers, Raptors, and Sunday’s loss to Dallas. Whether they’re good wins or not, the Lakers are getting the job done. They’ve got a flow going and their December schedule is going to test them. The Nuggets, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Magic, Heat, Hawks, Pacers, Bucks, Nuggets, Clippers, Trail Blazers, and Mavericks all wait for the Lakers for the rest of December.
Their quest continues tonight against Denver when the Lakers play the top DRTG team in the league.