Shot Charting The Lakers

Kurt —  November 10, 2008

Since talking about the Lakers shooting — bad, maybe not that bad — is all the rage, I decided to shot chart the last two Lakers games. Here are some observations from that exercise:

• Like all teams, the Lakers are at their best when they get the ball in the paint. It seems obvious, but when you look at the tough quarters for the Lakers (the first half against the Clippers, the first quarter against the Rockets) the Lakers shot chart looks like it was done with a shotgun. Just all over the place. But when the Lakers are playing well, the shots are almost all in the paint, or threes off kick-outs. Some of that ties into the pace of the game, the Lakers get more shots in the paint when the tempo is up, either off traditional fast breaks or having Bynum or Gasol post up early and deep.

• The Lakers sharpshooters, Radmanovic in particular, get to the corner three (a good spot in the triangle) a lot. By my count the Lakers shot 45% on those corner threes the last two games (5 of 11).

• Kobe is getting his shots in spots that Michael Jordan used to get a lot of his. He can still shoot and hit from anywhere, but he is into the middle of the paint for shots, either off post plays or cutting off a screen, and he is getting a lot of looks from the free throw area. (It should be noted that while Kobe had about 8 shots from about five feet or in (not counting layups or dunks) he hit only two, but I think that is due to Yao Ming, Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby being good interior defenders.)

• Gasol just knows how to score in the paint. He is using the 15-footer less than the first couple games this year, but is posting up opposing fours that can’t stop him on the block, and he has a wide variety of moves in the paint.

• Bynum — don’t try to lay the ball up, just dunk it.

• Fisher is great going hard to the rim or from three, but his midrange game seems off. I had him shooting just 25% from the midrange, which means he should take that shot only if wide open, not try to create it too much for himself. At least he has stopped with the PUJIT, for the most part.

• Farmar is sort of the same as Fisher, except he is making better decisions on when to shoot right now.

• Ariza has worked hard to develop an outside shot, and it’s better, but he is still at his best when he gets to the rim, either in transition or in the half court. The jumper is just keeping defenders honest now.

• The Lakers length is really bothering other teams at the rim. Combined the Rockets and Clippers shot just 55% at the rim (on dunks, layups and tip ins). This reminds me to say, if you didn’t read Gatinho’s post from last Friday about Phil Jackson and the Lakers organizational philosophy of getting length, go do that now.

• Most teams have a side they prefer to shoot from in the offense (the Rockets are on the extreme of this, really being a left-handed team as Bill Bridges put it) but the Lakers are much harder to read that way. Part of it is how much they are getting into the paint, but part is just how they are running the offense.