Pick up the pace

Kurt —  November 15, 2006

Regular commenter here Rob has been keeping a close eye on the Lakers stats this season and sent along a few thoughts, which I’m posting for general consumption.


There is one very important stat that seems to predict whether the Lakers win or lose. You might be surprised to find out it has nothing to do with turnovers or how many points Lamar Odom scores. It’s the pace of the game, baby.

Pace was the only stat that matched up with Lakers wins and losses. Efficiency, turnovers, assists etc. bounce around depending on the team faced. A win against Golden State comes with 16.5 turnovers per 100 possessions. An embarrassing loss to Detroit comes with 17 turnovers per 100 possessions. Lakers win with their second worst offensive efficiency 96.37 versus Memphis. Lakers lose while gobbling up a gaudy 32% of the offensive boards to Seattle.

But their five wins came in fast paced games: 97.94, 95.77, 94.16, 96.06 and 91.58. Their three losses came in slower paced games: 90.82, 85.75 and 87.67. So essentially, if the Lakers were at or above their average pace of 92.47 they win. Below that, they lose.

Now what does this mean? My guess is that when the pace is up the Lakers are clicking on offense and getting transition buckets. Or perhaps when the pace is faster they exploit the depth of their bench, and their opponent’s lack of it. A deeper analysis of those individual games might yield the answer. Me, I’m lazy. I’ll look at the next eight games and see what the lay of the land looks like from there.


I hate to be the bad guy on this one, especially as The Forum seems intrigued by this development. But putting Kobe at the point KILLED his offensive efficiency. He had a rating of 93.37, almost 7 points worse than his first game back. And that’s while handling 24% of all Lakers possessions. Because of the amount of work the Lakers need Kobe to do, we cannot suffer any scheme that lowers his efficiency this severely. Now granted, it did raise Odom’s levels. But not nearly enough to justify Kobe at point if the Memphis game is any indication of what the Lakers efficiency will look like in that scheme. Yet the problem is that it’s undeniable Odom plays better from the wing. Hmmm…


Smush is indeed killing the Lakers right now. The numbers confirm what your eyes have been screaming at you for some time now. But it doesn’t look like Farmar is ready right this second. We know Smush can do it; he’s done it before. (By “it” I mean close to league average point guard.) It’s only been eight games. Smush can still pull out of this tailspin. As a matter of fact, it’s even likely Smush will pull out of this tailspin. Failing that, I have a clipping of Steve Nash’s hair that I’m embedding in a magic amulet for him.


Go Lakers!