NBA Roundtable

Lakers Offense

In General NBA on January 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm

A follow up report to the Cavs-Lakers thoughts post

Lakers Offense

I’ve been surprised at how much the Lakers offense has struggled this season relative to last season. I knew Ron Artest would detract from their offense due to the decline in transition play + the decline in cutting / off the ball movement but I didn’t think the end result would be as severe as it’s been.

The Lakers have lacked penetration offensively all season. They don’t do a good job of getting the ball inside of the defense and forcing them to react, to force the defense into help scenarios and punish teams with their ball movement.

There a few main ways to create penetration, via (1) dribble penetration (2) passing + cutting (3) post ups (4) attracting double teams. The Lakers are only effective in the third and fourth categories this season. They run a post heavy offense that relies on their ability to pound teams interior defense.

The starting frontcourt of Andrew Bynum + Pau Gasol + Ron Artest is far too stagnant. There isn’t enough player movement. There is movement, it’s just to slow and ineffectual. The lack of quality player movement hurts ball movement and limits the effectiveness of their passing game. That forces LA to play more one-on-one basketball. Creating a stagnant offense.

The Lakers are able to punish weaker teams through their strong post play but when faced against high quality defense teams with good interior defense, their offense will struggle greatly. Like it did against Cleveland and like it will against Boston.

Kobe Bryant

The problem has been increased further by Kobe Bryant’s style of play. His insistence on playing through the post has hurt the Lakers spacing. There is barely enough room for Bynum and Gasol already, and neither player is all that comfortable away from the rim, and Artest is moving without the basketball. So the result is a stagnant offense. They start going to Kobe in the post and things gradually get worse, especially when this happens frequently in the first half of games … that’s just an awful sign for LA’s offense as the game continues.

I’d love to see Kobe Bryant move to a more perimeter based game and concentrate more on taking advantage of Bynum + Gasol and his own passing skills than with his scoring, and particularly his post scoring (low post and mid post).

Ron Artest

Ron Artest has been the biggest drag on the Lakers offense due to his poor transition play and movement offensively.

Ron Artest has been a huge boon to the Lakers defense though, as expected, and has helped them become the #1 ranked team in defensive eFG% and #2 ranked team in defensive efficiency. I think they can improve further defensively too.

The question is whether that defensive improvement adds more to the Lakers than the offensive decline detracts? And whether that helps LA match up against the other elite teams in the NBA or not?

I’m not sure what the answer is to that question yet, but, I am concerned that the answer may be negative. The Lakers may have made a mistake in letting Trevor Ariza go. And if they made a mistake, it’s not an easy one to fix. It’s very difficult to find small forwards who can play high quality defense, hit perimeter shots, provide great quickness and is very effective without the ball offensively. A rare commodity.

Derek Fisher

Fisher continues to decline. His shooting efficiency and turnovers have both dropped off considerably. His shot selection and decision making is mystifying at times and Fisher’s defense continues to worsen.

Derek Fisher is currently shooting 37% from the field and 35% from three for a true shooting percentage of 48.8%. His turnovers per minute at the second highest of his career and have increased by 20% over last season’s numbers. His offensive struggles have been a major drag on the Lakers offense (not all Ron-Ron).

The Lakers need to begin their search for a replacement for Derek Fisher. He shouldn’t be brought back as the starting PG next season and LA should try to make the change as soon as possible. Fisher is still serviceable enough to be the lead guard for LA, so, if they don’t find a suitable trade they’ll still be able to win a title with him in the lineup.

Pau Gasol

The absence of Pau Gasol for 15 of the Lakers first 42 games has been a serious drag on the offense also.

Furthermore, the lack of touches + shot attempts Gasol has received while on the court is troubling. Pau Gasol is only averaging 11.5 shots per game despite being a very good scorer, amazingly efficient, and excellent passer who keys the Lakers whole offense. On a per minute basis, shot attempts is an even greater concern with Gasol ranking middle of the pack. Behind players like Kobe Bryant, Bynum, Farmar, Walton, Brown, Powell while ahead of Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic.

The Lakers have to go to Pau Gasol more often and allow him to dominate offensively.

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