What is Wrong with the Lakers’ Offense?

Darius Soriano —  February 4, 2010

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There is no denying the fact that, so far this season, the Lakers offense has underperformed.  The Lakers only recently cracked the top 10 in offensive efficiency and that only came after strong offensive performances against weak defensive teams like the Knicks, Wizards, and Pacers.  This is in direct contrast to the last two seasons where the Lakers ranked 3rd in the NBA in offensive efficiency and were dominant on that end of the floor.  So, what’s happened?

There are several factors that are contributing to the Lakers’ slippage on the offensive side of the ball – lack of balance in the shot distribution, below average outside shooting, the integration of Artest, and an overall lack of execution. Recently, many have been pointing the finger at Kobe for our poor play on offense. I mean, he’s the leader. He’s taking the highest percentage of shots on this team.  He’s not our most efficient scorer and he’s playing with a busted hand. He should be passing to Bynum more.  He should be making sure we initiate our offense through Gasol.  So, It’s got to be him, right? Kobe is the problem.  Not so fast, says Kurt:

Some are portraying this as a “Kobe vs. Pau” thing, but the stickiness in he offense is bigger than that. Derek Fisher and the other guards are over dribbling and too quick to settle for the jumper. Bynum can be a black hole. Ron Artest feels like he needs to take his shot when he gets the ball because it doesn’t happen that often.

When the ball sticks, Kobe becomes the most likely guy to shoot because of his ability to create his own shot. Even with all the attention he gets, he gets what are a lot of good looks for him — if he gets the ball at the elbow he is almost unstoppable, even with a hand in his face. When the offense becomes stagnant, you see more Kobe. Is he shooting too much? Yes, but because the team is not running the offense so he has to create more shots, but it’s more about team execution than just Kobe.

I see the same thing that Kurt describes.  This goes back to last season too.  Too many times, the cuts are not crisp.  Too many times, screens are not set with any real intent.  When player movement stalls, passing opportunities decrease.  And when passes aren’t there the ball sticks and the guy with the ball ends up shooting.  Of course we could initiate the ball to the post more, but I’m also seeing situations where our post players are being pushed off the block and that in turn ruins our spacing and cuts down passing angles.  So, it’s not as simple as “player X needs to pass more”.  This is a team game and the Lakers run the ultimate team offense.  The Triangle is like a well oiled machine or a grandfather clock – when one part of the machine is out of synch, the results are going to be poor.

This leads to another issue that is happening every single night – the timing of the offense is just…off.  When the Triangle is run correctly, it looks like a choreographed dance.  Players should be spaced properly and moving in synch based off what the defense is doing.  Right now, that is not happening.  Too often, the player with the ball is looking for his pressure release or swing man and that player is not there (or not open) to receive the pass.  I mean, when the ball is coming up the court and the guard handling the ball is setting up on the strong side and creating the Triangle there are several options laid out to him 1). pass into post to the player in the hub of the Triangle 2). pass to the wing in the corner 3). reverse the ball to the top side guard.  If none of those options are available, the backside forward needs to recognize this and flash to the high post for a pressure release.  Too many times, that backside forward is either not flashing with the correct timing or is not getting open when he does flash.  This will lead to breakdowns, especially against teams that like to deny post entries or push our big guys off the block (hello Cleveland).

But, it’s not just the timing or the cuts or the screens.  Something else isn’t right with this offense.  Reed explains what else is ailing the Lakers:

One thing I think we really miss is three point shooting. We are 19th in 3FG at 34.6%. Last year we were also 19th, but at 36.1%. The year before we were 6th at 37.8%. This is a big deal for a few reasons. 

First, making threes is obviously the quickest way to score points. As we all know, it is as effective to shoot 33% from three as it is to shoot 50% from two. It seems like more than ever, the great offensive teams play inside to set up the three. The top 5 in offensive efficiency this year are Phoenix, Toronto, Denver, Atlanta, andCleveland. Phoenix is first in 3FG%, Cleveland second, Denver third, Toronto fourth, and Atlanta tenth. Phoenix and Cleveland both shoot over 40% from three, which, to belabor the obvious, is the same as shooting 60% from two. Many of these teams use penetration and post ups to set up open 3s. And we can understand why — simple math says it’s better to shoot 40% from three than work for higher % twos. We currently score 19.8 points per game from threes. If we shot 40%, we’d score 23.0 points per game (based on the same number of attempts) — an increase in 3.1 points per game. That alone would vault us to second in offensive efficiency.

Reed further explains why he thinks our shooting numbers are down:

I think the answer has to be that we don’t have good shooters. Or at least that our shooters aren’t shooting poorly. Given our inside presence on offense, our perimeter guys get plenty of good looks from three. We get plenty of corner three attempts. The problem is that our perimeter guys aren’t natural shooters, besides Sasha (who doesn’t play enough to count). Fisher used to be a shooter, but he’s not anymore. We don’t have anyone shooting 40% from three that shoots more than one attempt per game. We have lots of guys jacking up several threes a game that are in the low 30s or worse (Kobe, Odom, Brown, Fisher).

And this lack of reliable shooting is impacting our offense.  Since Reed is on fire at this point, I’m going to feed the hot hand:

Having elite shooting obviously opens up the offense for drives and post ups. This is just stating the obvious. We have  balance problem on offense. Too many guys do the same types of things — posting up and deliberate attacks into the paint. We don’t have lighting fast penetration or shooters that defense absolutely have to stick with. Think about what a deadly three point shooter does to a defense’s approach. When Ray Allen is out there, you have to be in his jersey every second of every play. Even when he’s not shooting well, you fear him and this creates extra spacing. Same for other elite spot up shooters. Their presence opens up the floor, lanes, etc., just because the defense has to shade a few steps their way more than they want. Even though Artest shoots well from three this year, he doesn’t create that type of fear/spacing. No one does. Other teams are happy to let him, Kobe, Brown, Fisher, etc. bomb away. Two years ago we didn’t have that problem as the Machine, Fisher, Vlad, etc. were all deadly when open. Think how defenses would react if instead of Farmar or Brown on the strong side corner when Pau has the ball in the post, someone like Daniel Gibson or Mo Williams were there. Pau would have a few extra feet and be all the more deadly.

All that said, I do believe our shooting can improve.  It can improve because the execution can get better.  What I mean is everything in this offense is related.  Better ball and player movement on offesne will create better shots for our bigs.  Better shots for our bigs will result in perimeter defenders helping off of our guards.  This in turn will lead to more open shots for our perimeter players, which should then result in more consistent shooting.  The perfect example of this was Shannon Brown’s stat line from last nights game against Charlotte.  Shannon was only 3-11 from the field, but when you look closer he was 2-4 from 3 point territory.  He also had 6 assists.  Many of his 3 point shots and the openings that allowed him to drive and create for others was based off the Lakers bigs playing more effectively and more crisp ball and player movement.  Several times, Brown ended up with either a wide open shot or a player closing down on him hard to try and run him off the three point line.  Essentially, Brown got open jumpshots because our offensive execution was better.  Then our bigs got better looks that were assisted by Shannon because he was getting into the lane after the ball was swung to him and he had proven that he could make the outside shot. 

I don’t want to paint this dire picture of the Lakers offense.  After all, many teams would like to be a top 10 offensive team. Plus, the evidence for better performances is there. There have been games this season where the Lakers have played supreme offensive basketball and reminded everyone of their capabilities on that end of the floor.  So, we all know it’s possible.  The team just needs to find that stride more often.  I do believe it will happen before the end of the season.  We’ve seen the seeds of this sprouting over the past couple of weeks.  Those aforementioned games against the Wiz, Knicks, and Pacers as well as our earlier romp of the Mavericks show me that this team can play a style of offense that is effective.  It will just take more focus on the little things (better cutting and screening) and resisting the desire to always do the easy thing (over dribble, continually running the P&R).  Like I said, I think the team will do it.  What do you think?

-Darius

Darius Soriano

Posts

93 responses to What is Wrong with the Lakers’ Offense?

  1. To set off the comments, Gatinho had this observation in the last thread:

    A very crude and unofficial tally I took through the 1st quarter and half (until Kobe came out) tracking offensive tendencies.

    Who threw entry passes into the post?
    Kobe lead the way by far with 11, followed at a distant by Gasol with 3, Bynum w/ 2, and Artest and Fish w/ 1 apiece.

    Also, Pau passed out of the post 5 times while Bynum (shocker) never did.

    They ran 6 pick and rolls and 5 possessions could have been called “isos”, or shots without any passes. Kobe’s first 4 shots were in this category.

  2. Darius, don’t you know the hot hand doesn’t exist?

    Fantastic joint contributions from everyone. It’s ironic when you think about it – we chased VladRad out of town because we screamed for defense and (in some sense) took his shooting for granted. Now we’ve finally got that elite perimeter defense, but we’ve lost the shooters that made our offense so deadly. With all that said, I’ll take improved D/average O over the alternative. It’s enhanced, IMO, our ability to win grind-it-out garbage games.

    Gatinho – That’s a really interesting tally, I’d love to see someone do that for an entire game or stretch of games. Interesting that Artest and Fish passed the ball into the post less than the post players themselves. I’m sure that’s a function of how the triangle runs – I didn’t see the game – but I’m assuming Kobe’s position in the triangle makes him the primary post entry passer at the corners.

    So 11 non-triangle possessions, out of how many? I think the triangle should be run at least 60-70% of the time, generally.

  3. Snoopy,
    Reed defies any statistical analysis done on the hot hand theory. He’s consistently 10 for 10 and even makes his end of quarter heaves from three quarter court. The man is amazing.

  4. I agree that Kobe shouldn’t be blamed for taking too many shots. In the past it was generally his fault, but too often lately the team does a poor job of running the offense then gives the ball to Kobe with 7 seconds left on the shot clock to get a decent shot.

    Kobe has actually been deferring a lot more lately in my opinion (other than the Memphis game), probably due to his injuries.

  5. should we think of the triangle like the rotary engine?

  6. Our team is not running the triangle most of the time — and certainly not when things are tight. If we can’t run our offense under pressure, then we are NOT a triangle team.

    This is where I have given up on Farmar. He simply chooses not to run the triangle most of the time. I know he is smart enough and he has had enough time. I suspect that is one reason it has been so difficult for him to earn more minutes of the last 1 & 1/2 years.

    This is not to say this is a one man problem – Kobe is frequently just as guilty of over-dribbling.

    If I had to pick one thing we absolutely have to improve to get anything done with the triangle, it would be our passing. Right now we are lackadaisical in many of our passes around the perimeter – every other one looks as if it should be a steal for the other team. Also we seem to have a fetish for passing into congested traffic in the middle of the court. We most often do not find the easy pass and make it crisply. This is where I am a big Luke Walton supporter.

  7. Kobe can’t facilitate like he used to because of the hand. It won’t show in assists because many of the baskets were “hockey assists” or even led to a basket on the third or fourth pass.

  8. FANTASTIC post. It absolutely nails the central problem with the Laker’s offense: no one (other than Artest) is able to knock down their WIDE OPEN three pointers.

    The way the triangle works, if you’re a guard or a wing, you’re going to get tons of opportunities at WIDE OPEN three point looks. For some reason, none of our guards can knock them down (taking into account that Kobe rarely gets a wide open look).

    If you look at the great triangle teams of the past, they all featured a point guard and/or a wing who could knock down their wide open three point looks at the very least, at a 40% clip.

    Remember that insane playoff run in 2001? The X factor in that run was that Fisher was knocking down about 50% of his three pointers for the entirety of the playoffs.

    Remember that incredible 1996 Chicago Bulls team? Steve Kerr shot 52% from three.

    If the Lakers had a point guard who could knock down 50% of their three point attempts (mind you, these are WIDE FREAKING OPEN ATTEMPTS), they would be pretty much unbeatable.

    Right now, the reason the Lakers offense is getting bogged down is because no team we face respects any of our guards from behind the arc (other than Kobe).

    That’s why a trade for Calderon is so intriguing (even though it most likely doesn’t happen). Calderson is a 40% shooter from 3pt land this year, which is an upgrade over any of our “low 30’s” guards. The Lakers just need a point guard who can space the floor.

    And by the way, to all the “play Sasha at point guard” supporters, I realize Sasha is shooting 40% from three this year, but 99% of those makes are coming in garbage time, when there’s nothing on the line.

    Sasha’s well-documented problem, is that he’s a headcase, and except for a fluky contract year (2008), he can’t play under pressure.

    If you played Sasha significant time at point guard, he would be shooting in the low 20’s.

    (By the way, how bad is Adam Morrison, a supposed shooter, who only makes 26% of his attempts in garbage time).

  9. Too many shots for Kobe, not enough for Pau.

  10. By way of comparison:

    In 2008, when our offense was unstoppable, Sasha shot 44% from three (and he shot a lot), Vlad shot 41%, Fisher shot 41%, Farmar shot 37%, Kobe shot 36%. The cumulative effect of having five guys shoot well from three in 2008, and no one but Artest (39%) shooting well this year is huge in terms of points scored per game.

  11. Chownoir (was J) February 4, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Earlier in the year, I mentioned a couple of times that I thought Ammo was getting some burn over several games because Phil wanted to know if he could be that shooter off the bench. Kobe was also very encouraging in trying to get him to shoot without hesitation. Alas, it didn’t happen.

    Here’s my concern regarding using the Mavs, Pacers, etc wins as an example of how the offense can run well. In those games, the shooters got hot. They also took some bad shots, Brown/Farmar, that went in. So yes, the offense opened up. But in the playoffs over a 7 game series, can the team really depend on the shooters staying hot enough to allow the offense to run smoothly?

    Last year, Ariza got hot and so did LO. Even though their regular season stats were mediocre at best. Can the team really count on Jordan/Shannon to get hot in the playoffs this year?

  12. I comped the Lakers’s numbers from 08/09 and 09/10 at BaskRef yesterday, looking at USG, eFG and TS%.

    Kobe:
    2009 USG 32.2/TS%.561/EFG.502
    2010 USG 33.1/TS% .544/EFG.490

    Gasol and Bynum both are at the same USG (20) but Gasol’s EFG has dropped from .567 to .530. Bynum’s has gone up a little in both categories.

    The big differences are with Odom and Fisher. Odom has gone from .542 to .513. Fisher’s EFG has gone from .512 to .449 and his TS% from .546 to .500.

    So, while I think the X/O angle that Darius is talking about is certainly important, we need to look at the players as well. I tend to see it more as Reed does, and it starts with Fisher’s decline. His TO% has spiked and his assists, unlike Odom’s, have not gone up with it.

    Also, on another site (not a Laker site) I said in October that Vujacic was a key player for this team, and people scoffed. But as the 3-point numbers indicate, I think he is.

    So, looking this over, I have to join those think Fisher needs to play fewer minutes. Last year, he took care of the ball MUCH better than Farmar did, and made a higher % of 3s. While I do think Fisher understands situational basketball and Farmar doesn’t and Fisher does things that don’t show up in the numbers, you cannot ignore the numbers. His TO% is higher than Farmar’s or Brown’s and his 3P% is not significantly better. Also, Vujacic, as frustrating as he is, is hitting 40% from 3 this year (19 for 47).

    So, along with the stuff Darius and Reed said, barring a trade, I cut Kobe’s minutes to help with his health, use Fisher around 20 minutes a game, and let Farmar, Brown and Vujacic play a little more if I am Phil.

  13. By contrast, look at the guys Lebron has to kick the ball to when he drives..

    Gibson – 1.3m/2.9a 47%
    Parker – 1.4m/3.0a 45%
    Williams – 2.3m/5.3a 43%

    Including Lebron, the Cavs only have four players who shoot more than two 3pt attempts per game and three of the four players shoot well over 40%. Even Lebron shoots 36% (1.8m/5.0a) which is in no ways poor.

    The Lakers by contrast have six players shooting more than 2 attempts per game and, as you point out, Ron’s the only one making them more than 35% of the time.

    Not hard to see that could be a big advantage for the Cavs in a possible finals match-up.

  14. Burgundy, did you notice most of our 3-point attempts are wide open?

    There are 3-point specialists we can pick up from the D-League. Thorpe swears Rob Kurz is the best shooter he’s ever seen.
    The problem is that it’s so hard to find 2-way players. If they can’t play D or do something other than shoot, they won’t get PT.

    It’s funny how beautiful the offense looks in the few games where Fish or someone else is shooting well. It’s frustrating, because we’re so close. I really think just 1-2 sharpshooters would make everything click. Kapono’s rotting on a bench somewhere, but his D is a huge liability. I don’t see any moves being made.

    Our best bet is still Sasha.

    The Sharapova therapy clearly hasn’t worked. We need to find him someone else. Kurt, do your new NBC credentials give you access to Megan Fox?

  15. This post (which was great btw) is exactly the reason why I still want to get Sasha some run at the point. If we could oil up the machine again, this title race would be all but over.

  16. “If you played Sasha significant time at point guard, he would be shooting in the low 20’s.”

    Interesting, so you know this for a fact?

  17. Wasting an hour sifting through D-League prospects makes me wonder – bring back Coby Karl?

    He’s been arguably the best D-Leaguer, and his 3-point shot is deadly. It’s even more impressive when you consider how much attention he draws in the D-League.

    And I think he can learn to play the pesky-yet-not-entirely-athletic brand of D Sasha played at his best.

  18. Snoops, Coby Karl is too busy actually getting run with the Warriors

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/4343/gamelog;_ylt=AvyMSDr6rOmp9BSt1rHP7PS8PaB4

  19. Goo – good call, missed that one. Only 3 days ago, too.

  20. Dunk Specialist February 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I actually am not as worried about our shooters. Here is the thing you forget about older shooters(Fish). They get better in the playoffs. The reason being that shooting from 3 requires a ton of legs and those are the same legs used to chase around offensive players. And often on back to backs. Of course in the playoffs you only play one or two games in a week. But I agree with others, Farmar and Brown aren’t going to get better in the playoffs. Not sure if we need to make a trade (could we really get anyone for basicly little to nothing) but I would be looking. I don’t even think we need someone who defends all that well because I think whomever we get only plays short stints to get the offense going.

  21. I will try and do it for the whole game against the Nuggs as this may more accurately reflect the tendencies, seeing as how this will be a game that Kobe may be more likely to break out of the offense if things are tight.

  22. Chownoir (was J) February 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I wonder what Phil is seeing in Shannon’s play that we’re not. I think most would agree that Shannon hasn’t done a good job of playing within himself and the offense. Making bad shot decisions and too hyper for his own good. He’s almost like the bad Machine when he’s skittering all over the place with or without the ball.

    Sasha’s been playing more composed in the few minutes of burn he’s getting. Why doesn’t Phil throw him back out there to see how he would do in pressure minutes.

    The only guess I could make is this is a teaching stretch for Phil. He wants Shannon to have experience and make mistakes while it’s not super critical.

  23. Um, whats wrong with the Lakers office? Let’s start with the fact that the focal point of our offense has a hurt ankle, back, shoulder, and multiple fingers. Couple it with the fact that because of Gasol’s hamstring injuries, it is pretty apparent he isn’t hitting the weights like last year. Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, 30% of our possesions we pass once and stand around, and aside from Farmar and Brown, we no longer have the legs for a running game and easy transition buckets.

    Can most of this be solved – sure. Just don’t expect 2008 without seeing 2008 Kobe and a few guys who can score on the break.

  24. I’m surprised that there is no mention of Ariza here (except comment 9), who seemed to be quite accurate last year when left open for a three. I agree that just the threat of a three creates better spacing, as the defense can’t just pack it inside 17 feet of the rim, which makes penetration and entry passes more difficult.

    Inside-out is good, but when the defense deliberately gives you the “out”, you have to knock down the shots to make them play honestly. That’s why when fans are usually saying “Stop shooting threes!”, I’m usually saying “Make those threes!” so that you can start passing it into the post (I’m talking about uncontested threes, not the forced type).

  25. Farmar and Wow just need time on the court to gain confidence. At least their athleticism will allow them to do other things within the offfense. Watching the games this year, alot of those supposedly wide open 3’s created by the offense have not been wide open. Artest is the only player I have consistently seen getting multiple wide open looks from down town(correlates to the higher percentage from the arch). Since the offense is not running as a well oiled machine on a consistent basis, alot of the shots the offense creates have not been open. To much one on one basketball and everybody standing around looking at the ball bounce. You are not going to get the same results from the triangle executed perfectly(Bulls, early decade LA)compared to the mess you are seeing now and expect the same open shots and high shooting percentage from the 3 point line from our guards.

    Our number one problem that would fix everything is ball movement. Everything about the triangle is dependent on that one simple concept. Not pounding the ball on the floor for 5to 6 seconds and then deciding what to do with the ball. This seems to happen on at least 50% of our possesions this year. If we cut that number down to 20%-25% of our possesions a game, you would finally see what this team is capable of.

  26. Snoopy,

    Regarding Megan Fox. We’re trying to fix the Machine, not infect him!

  27. RE: 14 – Zephid

    Of course I don’t know for a “fact” that Sasha would be shooting in the 20’s if he played significant minutes, it’s impossible to measure that, but I know for a “fact” that Sasha didn’t make a single shot during the course of the NBA Finals last year.

    NOT A SINGLE SHOT.

    I also know that last year he shot 36% from three point land when he played contributing minutes, and in his other seasons in the league he shot 27%, 34%, & 37% (mind you, this guy’s role on the team is SHOOTER). He had that one contract year where he shot 43%, but I think we have enough evidence to say that was the exception to the rule.

    You can throw stats out all you want, but sometimes you have to believe your eyes. My eyes tell me Sasha is a guy who can’t shoot under pressure and has lost a lot of his confidence.

    I know there’s a cavilcade of you who are pushing to give him more minutes, but when was the last time you saw him do something positive in a MEANINGFUL game situation?

    I’ve seen him knock down a wide open three when the Lakers are closing out the 4th quarter with a 20 point lead.

    But I’ve also seen him (more times than I can count) clank that same shot when it’s the second or third quarter, and it’s a tight game.

    The kid can’t shoot under pressure. There’s a mountain of evidence saying so.

    So to answer your question, I’m sure he wouldn’t shoot in the 20’s (I was obviously exaggerating), but I bet he would shoot in the low to mid 30’s, which would lump him in with all the Lakers other terrible 3pt shooters.

    Sasha has been in the league for six years, at this point. He is who he is. 2008 was an aberration.

  28. RE: 22 – What Phil sees in Brown is a player who’s eager to please and has a MUCH higher defensive ceiling than Sasha.

    I agree, Brown has made a ton of bad decisions late in games with the ball in his hands, but Phil is hoping that this will be a learning process.

    In the mean time, Brown plays solid man to man defense, and doesn’t commit dumb fouls 30 feet away from the basket…

  29. >Ariza.. open for three

    this is really not the problem. Artest is shooting the three as well as (if not better than) Ariza did during the reg. season. the problem, from the arc, is the G and bench.

  30. Its not a big surprise our offense is sputtering right now because we have a lot of guys with individual things to prove. The way I see it, a “selfish” style of play is totally understandable and acceptable from guys like Farmar/Brown/Bynum for the first half of the season. 2 are soon to be free agents and 1 has a $12M contract to justify. Add Kobe’s finger and Ron learning the triangle and we’ve got a crappy O.

    However, after the all-star break I would expect some changes. More touches for Pau, rather than Bynum, less p&r from Farmar, better ball movement by Shannon. Kobe will sharpen up his shot and Ron will find his spots and his timing. Phil is too good a coach for those things not to happen.

    To me, the most promising thing about this season are our defensive numbers. Those just show that effort is there on both ends. We just have mental barriers on the other end of the court.

  31. Chownoir (was J) February 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Ariza was only 31.9 % in the regular season last year from the arc. Luckily he got hot in the playoffs. He definitely wasn’t stretching the D during the regular season.

    #28, I’m not a huge Sasha advocate and actually hope that Shannon is a long term contributor. But he’s been really frustrating me lately because I think he’s actually regressed. For someone who says all the right things about working hard and learning, he hasn’t shown much progress.

    He’s shown more of a tendency to jack up shots. I don’t think he’s actually played solid man to man D. He’s been gambling and also out of position. The C’s game against Rondo was an extreme example of him relying on his athleticism instead of smarts.

    Agree about the higher ceiling. Just hope he can use this extra burn to start improving more. I had a lot of hopes that he’d be a Trevor equivalent. Athletic journeyman who just needed a home and a coach. Trevor took about a year of playing time to get it. Once he understood the offense and his role, he took off. It’s been about a year for Shannon and I see regression instead. Anecdotally, he seems to shoot a decent percentage with his feet set in a catch and shoot situation. I’d love to see him stick with taking those kinds of shots instead of off the dribble.

    Still, I’m rooting for him. If he can be a consistent standstill 3 point shooter, play smart athletic D while not doing anything stupid on O, it’ll be what this team needs. They don’t need a stopper or a creator from him, just someone steady and a good role player.

  32. Where Ariza trumps Artest is his ability to fill lanes, push tempo and get easy buckets. The offense as a whole has suffered and slowed.

  33. Brown is a five to ten minute change of pace guy. He brings energy and athleticism. But I think his effectiveness diminishes with more minutes played. He has gotten a lot of minutes and seems to be greenlighted to shoot – or at least he doesn’t get yanked when he does. But with all of that – I honestly don’t feel he is a better player today than he was in the playoffs last year. That concerns me a bit.

    I posted very early in the year that I thought he could be this year’s Ariza, but so far I really don’t see the progress in his game. It is not a knock on him – but what you see is what you get.

    In the games I have seen he has almost always gotten open looks. So I don’t buy that only Artest is getting open looks – all three of the guards who are not producing consistently ARE getting consistent open looks. They just are not hitting them at the rate they should be.

  34. There are multiple issues, but those who’ve noted the lack of outside shooters to spread the floor, along with the lack of consistent movement, seem to be right on the mark.

    Aside from having that guy who can command a defender’s attention simply by running to the corner (a la ’08 Sasha, or Radmanovic back in the day), the offense is also lacking the off-the-ball movement that had fueled a lot of good looks in past seasons.

    Artest doesn’t often pass into the post and make a quick cut, like Ariza so often did last year. He’s not a slasher, nor do his foot problems help in that regard. Likewise, Odom’s also gone away from his dives, seemingly content to stand behind the 3-point line and wait for the kick-out. And Kobe’s not attacking the basket nearly as often as he’d done in prior seasons, in part I suspect due to tired legs and also his inability to handle the ball as well as he’d like given the bad right hand.

    I’ve noted many times in recent weeks that the Lakers offense is often way too easy to defend: simply focus on Kobe and whichever of Bynum or Pau is on the low box. Neither Bynum or (so far this season) Pau is a threat if they’re away from the rim, and Fisher and Artest aren’t looking to score, so you can sag off of them. This allows defenders to focus on Kobe and the Lakers bigs inside, and that’s hard to overcome without passing/cutting/outside shooters to space the floor.

    I’d personally like to see more of Walton at the SF since he moves the ball well in the triangle, and see more of Kobe playing alongside Farmar and Sasha/Brown in the backcourt. I’d also like to see Sasha get a little more non-garbage time run before we get too close to the playoffs. Getting him right needs to happen soon, provided it’s ever going to happen, and of late he’s seemingly been playing under control. Letting him try to find his jumper in meaningful game action may be a risk worth taking. Give him some of Fisher’s minutes, or Shannon’s.

    Also, I don’t buy into the “Bynum is a Black Hole” argument as some others have repeatedly suggested.

    Gatinho’s breakdown at the start of this thread says he never passed out of the post early on vs. Charlotte, whereas Pau did so five times. OK. But what those numbers do not tell us is how many times did the ball go into Bynum in that span? Did he take a forced shot, or opt not to pass because he had a good look?

    NBA.com says Bynum only took 10 shots (making five) in the first half last night, while Pau took eight. Neither would qualify as a “chucker” or “black hole” based on those numbers.

  35. I’m not an expert in the triangle offense by any means, but I wonder how much of our problem is in the players making (or not making) reads in the offense. The offense often starts correctly, but then breaks down. Is this because players aren’t making the right cuts to continue the offense (one player going the wrong way is enough to ruin the spacing and stall the offense)? Or because players don’t know who should be taking the initiative to make cuts, and the offense stalls because of that.

    I’m not sure this is the problem, but it would seem to explain what we’re seeing (or at least what I’m seeing). It might not be helpful to say “run the offense better”, but it might give hope that things will get better as the season goes on. (Or it might be a real problem in the younger/newer players can’t get it.)

    My guess as to why Brown is getting so much PT is to try to give him experience to see if he can learn to make the right plays. (I don’t always like what I see, but various reports seem to say he’s working on the right things.)

    Also, I think one thing this team could really use is someone who can throw a really good entry pass. Not just to get the ball inside, but to make a good enough pass that the recipient can attack immediately. I think Walton is very good at this, but he’s often playing with the second unit, which means the other team has more freedom to pack the paint, so it isn’t as effective. It would be great if Brian Shaw could transfer his abilities to one of the extra guards we have lying around.

  36. Also, Kobe’s ankle upgraded to a sprain:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4887922

  37. Not Charlie Rosen February 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    @27 – Last Sunday, actually. When Artest picked up his second foul early in the first quarter, in Boston, biggest game of the longest road trip of the season…and Phil didn’t turn to Farmar or Brown, it was Sasha who got the burn. And we jump out to a double-digit lead.

    I know Phil was probably trying to maintain regular rotations, with JF/SB coming in at their regular times…but I think it’s also telling that Sasha was the guy he turned to in an unexpected, pressure-filled situation.

    And yeah, his stat line doesn’t look great, I don’t think he had a single point…but he didn’t make any mistakes, ran the offense, and was 20% of an offensive and defensive effort that (temporarily) blew the doors off one of the best teams in the NBA. He passed into the post, rotated to the open spot, took jumpers when the bigs had properly rotated to under the basket for the rebound (as the triangle is designed to do…I think his one jumper missed but was easily tapped back in by Pau), and did his job on defense.

    And his history/reputation does serve one purpose that’s also been mentioned here as lacking with our other “shooters”…earned or not, he’s The Machine, the shooter, and folks tend to respect that shot (again, whether or not it’s based in actual historical fact) more than any of our other guards.

    I admit, I’m a Sasha fan…and while he certainly shouldn’t be getting 25+ minutes a night, I’d love to see him getting more of JF’s/SB’s minutes, particularly when they’re dead set on freelancing and P&R and taking bad shots.

  38. I think the best news of the day was the possibility that Kobe might actually sit out a game.

  39. The Offense begins with Defense! I agree with Ariza was able to get us easy baskets from his great defensive presence. I think the Black Mamba needs to go back to the basics of the pick and roll with Pau and Bynum to get them going. We need to average 55 to 60 pts in the paint to open up the 3 for Ron, Fish and Kobe! After all…i remember when Pau first came over and all they did was run the pick and roll to get him is points. We started to win games instantly.

  40. interesting note: Cavs playing tonight without *any point guard (except for LeBron, of course. : )

  41. The difference between the offense last season and this season can be attributed to 2 things: passing and spacing. I guess one can also make the comparison of Ariza vs Artest in the middle of all this.

    When running the TRI, the ball almost always goes to the wing to seek the entry pass to the post. When such entry is denied, the ball goes to the top of the key for the lag pass, gets swung around until the re-post can be achieved. More often than not, the one one on the wing is Kobe the one on the top of the key is Lamar Odom. This routine jumpstarts the triangle offense.

    Last season, Ariza positioned himself on the catch and shoot (opposite wing weak side) and had the ability to slash when the defense closes out on the three. More often than not, because Trevor wasn’t reputed as a good 3-ball shooter (or a shooter at all) defense gives him this shot.

    If he refuses to shoot, Trevor has a passing game that enables the Lakers to repost or re-lag the pass back to the top of the key. With about 10 seconds left on the clock, Kobe can then ask for a pick from Pau and once more look for Fish at the corner or Trevor cutting underneath or spotting up for a three.

    This season, Ron Artest has solely planted his feet in the wing. If he is denied the shot, he doesn’t pass out nor slashes, but instead, he barrels his way into the paint where, as opposed to last season, Pau and Drew are there.

    That folks, is an example of bad spacing.

    One can always make a connection between passing and spacing being a result of one another. Passing creates spaces, and 3-ball closeouts can warrant the extra pass.

    Please don’t ask me how to solve this because the fact that Kobe posts up more often is also compounding the problem. We lack fluidity and the team actually changed ALOT from last year, even tho its just the Ariza-for-Artest swap.

    The addition of Artest, the deduction of Ariza and the development of Bynum has made the Lakers almost a pure-inside team.

  42. If Darius would be so kind to let that ^^ through, I would also like to point out that the Lakers are averaging less and less assists per game this year than they did last year. I don’t have the numbers but the sheer drop in passing in and out of the post is quite obvious.

    When we run isos, almost exclusively with Kobe having the rock, the 3 other guys apart from the screener must move. This is where Ariza and Artest differ in their games. Artest is more of a spot-up shooter (perhaps due to his China-made shoes) while Trevor last year was almost purely slashing who developed a spot-up game. Pair that with the fact that Fish is actually older (hard to believe huh) and that Odom has to defer to the post game almost everytime down, has lessen the fluidity that the TRI was supposed to exploit.

    If you saw us last season, we were like swedish massage. Oil flows from the neck down to the buttocks. This season, we are like Thai massage. Bones creak to get the job done.

  43. I have been toying with the idea of the Lakers looking for another PG, not via trade but within the team. I think it was basing it on the fact that the team simply doesn’t have the outside game we used to have last season, no offense to Artest who is shooting well from 3-ball. But the mere fact that Ron shoots exclusively out of need and not out of the flow of the offense bothers me.

    Put Sasha Vujacic in, take Derek Fisher out. Or if Phil wants to be more traditional, start Sasha at the 2, slide Kobe to the 3, and start Fish.

    Option 1:
    Sasha – Kobe – Artest – Pau – Bynum

    Option 2:
    DFish – Sasha – Kobe – Pau – Bynum

    Sasha could get his groove back, and he could be the last option on offense. Yet, with all the attention the other 4 guys get on defense, it frees him up for more open shots.

    Of course we again would have to deal with Ron coming off the bench.

  44. off topic but is anybody else watching cleveland-miami? free throw totals of 31 for cleveland vs. 11 for miami, lebron’s got 19 free throws himself and wade can’t buy a call…they sure do get a lot of calls at quicken loans arena.

  45. Do you think the Lakers are going to fix their offensive problems before the playoffs start?

  46. >cleveland-miami?

    Gibson misses the entire first half, and to atone for his sins, gets no respite in the second. incidentally, the Cavs blow it open in the 2nd.

  47. That massage illustration of Warren’s really sums up the Lakers’ season, especially the creaking bones. Despite the wins (and they have been well-earned), the fluidity we’ve come to expect over the last couple of seasons just hasn’t been there.

    I think that anyone would consider spacing and outside shooting to be primary issues, and the connection between these 2 factors is pretty obvious. Throw in Pau’s hamstring, Ron’s concussion and Kobe’s everything, and it hasn’t been a recipe for pretty basketball.

    That said, I still feel like we’re the team best equipped to win a 7 game series.

  48. I think the Bynum/Gasol combination is throwing things out-of-whack. For whatever reason, they still haven’t figured out how to best complement each other. (Time together, Gasol’s injuries, Gasol not shooting as well from outside …)

    Kobe’s injuries, Lamar’s lack of an outside game, inconsistent production from Bynum, Artest’s unfamiliarity with the triangle, the decline of Fisher, the inconsistencies of Farmar, Vujacic, and Brown, the lack of PT for Walton (due to his injuries and the arrival of Artest) are all factors, too.

  49. A lot of good ideas here… but in my opinion, the lower efficiency on O is dominated by two things out of the many listed factors.

    1. Kobe’s injuries and overshooting, and to a lesser extent, Ron’s and Pau’s injuries.

    2. Lakers running too much ISO. Even mediocre Tri is better than ISO ball.

    I think if these two issues went away, our offense would jump a few points per 100 possessions.

    However, that would only take care of our general league-wide performance. I think our offense is still vulnerable to the combination of physical post D and quick perimeter defenders who can cheat off a little to deny post entries. Unfortunately, that means CLE and BOS, who in my opinion are the most likely to emerge from the East.

    So in order to compete in the Finals, we need improvement in a number of the areas stated – quality of Tri play and timing and some better 3 point shooting.

    Last note on Shannon. I like the guy a lot, and not even for his dunking (which has never struck me as that amazing). Yes, he’s making some mistakes, but I think this is part of the growth process. In the old days, his role on O was limited and he would either take open spot up 3s, or cut to the rim. Nowadays, I expect the coaching staff is encouraging him to try to be more aggressive and expand his repertoire within the Tri. This means he’s been working on those odd looking fadeaways in the lane and on the elbows and (bad) taking more early 3s. But you have to regress a little to make bigger advances, so I am patient for now. If this were the playoffs, that would be different…

  50. Add in the fact that the starter unit is like a tank, all power no speed as least not the speed that some team have. Last year we could easily get fast break with Trevor, Pau or Odom beating their man in the open field and getting easy basket. I rarely see that now, it is so slow that i tend to wait for the second unit to come in just to speed it up.

  51. Hey folks!!! It isn’t one thing that is creating problems — it is a combination of things. If it were only one thing, don’t you think Phil and ‘the boys’ would have addressed it by now? This isn’t a stupid group of people.

    While I don’t want to go whistling by the graveyard; and I do have some complaints about how the system is being run; I think we have to just take some of these wins at face value and move on. We actually won — and we could win again Friday night.

    We are not exactly a #8 seed here.

  52. You guys are making this to difficult. Our starting PG is 2nd to last in the NBA starting PGs in shooting at 37%. He is last in assists per game. The guy can t pass or shoot anymore. Duhhhh. No wonder our offense is down. 30 minutes a game for a guy who is last in the league. Rarther simple now isen’t it. Don’t tell me about those old big shots. This is now and now he is the problem.

  53. yeahbut, we keep saying this is just the regular season. the problem I have with this is that other teams have been rounding into mid-season form (and it is now past mid-season) and I really worry about playing Utah, Denver, Dallas and even Portland (with all their injuries) right now. the Lakers really do need to tighten up their play soon.

  54. Now that Kobe is down, it all goes to my idea, that, the dude should be kept out much and let others get involved much more. They need to get the feeling of toiling, hustling for POINTS for the win, and defense. Why let him play 40+ mins now at his age if you need him deep in the playoffs? You all remember the year he got MVP. Lot of fellas were involved and the flow was great, its just C’s were better but to my opinion we played better than even last season let alone this one. The team in which the 15th player contribution is noticed wins it easily. Now Phil, press those Vujacic to get more serious and aggressive, not just sit there waiting for Kobe, Pau and .. Am just thinking

  55. What is wrong is 3 things-

    1.Fisher has played very poorly this year.
    2.Bynum/Gasol is redundant on offense since neither have any midrange game this year. Odom/Gasol is a much better option that we should be playing more instead.
    3.Injuries. Just have to hope we get better.

  56. Ken I don’t think you understand the triangle very well. The triangle does not put up great numbers for PGs. The PG in the triangle has completely different responsibilities than PGs in traditional offenses.

    If you look at the PGs who have played the triangle over the years under Phil Jackson, they do not put up normal starting PG stats. If you look at the numbers for Ron Harper, who was a great triangle PG, his numbers will not blow you away.

    Look at Ron Harper on the 1999-2000 Lakers.

    Ron shot 39.9% FG%, 31.1% 3PT%, and averaged 3.4 assists along with 7.0 PPG.

    Look at his numbers on the Bulls, he never averaged over 3 assists per game. Yet he is considered a great triangle PG.

    I mean the only PG who put up “good” stats in the triangle would be B.J. Armstrong in the early 90s.

    The Lakers have to work with what they have at this point, since Mitch has basically come out and said they are not going to make any trades this year. You say Fisher is the lone problem with this team’s offense, I think you need to re-read the post. While Fisher is a part of the problem with our offense, he is not the sole reason that we are no longer dominant on offense.

    And you seem to imply that Fisher should be replaced, but there is no chance I would hand the reigns to Farmar or Shannon at this point. They simply do not make good decisions consistently. They may make a few good plays, but then Farmar strays to the PnR and jacks up a 3 or Shannon does his best Fisher impression with a leaner PUJIT that disrupts the flow. Until one of them is able to consistently run the offense well and play under control, Fisher should start.

  57. Great post at the right time here, nice to see the teamwork in it also. The Lakers just are terrible this year with 3 point shooting, and it seems to effect the spacing on the floor as has been said. Someone had a link a while ago, and the low 30’s was like the best percentage that we had for any one player, that will not cut it.

  58. The main point about spacing has to do with the kind of game each of our characters have. Last season, Bynum was not in the flow of things. Thats 1 less guy to worry about camping down low. Last season, it was Lamar having his minutes down the stretch, and even though Lamar is not a shooter, he is still considered a “stretch” 4.

    Last season, when Ariza was in the wing, he played inside ball (drives to the lanes, dunks) but he always saw the passing lane. It is also important to note that timing is very important due to the 3-second rule. This season, when Artest doesn’t pose for a shot he likes, he barrels through the post unexpectedly (without the bigs anticipation) and once more clogs the lane.

    Last season, Kobe was a pure perimeter/outside player. This season, that dream shake tutorial made him another PF in a 6’6 210-lb body.

    Combine all this and you have 4 guys that wanna pound the rock inside with only Fish as the main threat from outside. Our offense is predictable due to the lack of options beyond 18-ft.

    And if its any consolation, the in-and-out of guys into the rotation due to the myriad of injuries we have this season just makes it worse.

  59. Other than misspelling “offense” in the second to last paragraph, Great Article!!

    Yes, the Lakers are “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”. But the reasons have everything to do with Kobe. He is the beginning and the ending with this team. The problem is he is hurt. His being hurt is actually hurting the starting team. He cannot drive to the basket because he doesn’t want to get wacked on the hand. It is difficult for him to finish at the rim because he loses the ball so often. And finally he can’t play the same defense because of his back and lower half or hurt. Face the facts, he is wearing down and is on the decline of his career. He is still great, but the years are finally taking a toll.

    That being said, the others have not stepped up. Fisher is washed up but he runs the triangle almost to perfection (besides making only a third of his shots). Wow is actually a two guard. We have him playing point but his ball handling skills are terrible. His nerves have him just running instead of running the offense. Farmar does not run the offense period.

    We miss Ariza and Radman, but we needed what we got by losing them. Golden State doesn’t use Radman, why not get him back. What people don’t realize is the guy is 6’10”. That is why Orlando was so successful last year. They HAD three 6’9″ guys who could shoot the three. Most 6’9″ guys get lost playing D. So it stands to reason that Radman would too. It obvious that we are not going to play Morrisson so why not give someone a expiring contract to get a shooter? Either Kapono or Radman would be welcome. The only difference is Radman has played in the triangle.

    Replacing Fish is also imperative. Calderon from Toronto would answer all of our needs but I doubt that they would do us that favor. We have to hurry and address our issues because the way that Cleveland is playing right now, we cannot and will not beat them. They play to win every game. They play hungry and we play bored at best.

  60. The big difference I see is the lack of wing entry passes into the post (I believe Tex called this the ‘wing series’). Remember the barrage of Fish to Fox to Shaq passes with Fox standing in the corner to make it impossible for the defender to deny the entry? For some reason, they don’t do that anymore, putting Artest in that corner to facilitate the entry to Drew (or to shoot if he’s left open). Rather, the entry seems to come from the top, which makes sense if its through Pau or Kobe at the elbow, but less sense if its not (and goes straight to Drew 12′ from the basket).

    Anyone else seeing this?

  61. 31) I like that stat. That stat has come up a lot over the season. Trevor’s 3pt% last season wasn’t great until the playoffs, then he got hot.

    The bottom line is, for us to get to another title, somebody is going to have to get hot from 3 in the playoffs. Be it Fish, Shannon, Sasha, Ron, Farmar. One of those guys is going to have to step up and stretch the D out for Kobe and Pau to dominate. I agree that Trevor’s athleticism did a lot of nice things for us, but the reason so many of us are nostalgic about him is because we know he’s the type of player who will seize the moment, and those guys don’t come around often.

    We need to be patient and see just who steps up big for us in April. For the time being, this is a learning process for everybody out there, except Kobe.

  62. all the posts lead to one conclusion: poor coaching

  63. I know that the post mentioned (the type of) players that could help with the offensive problems that the Lakers are having. However, we’re coming up on a slippery slope in the comments by talking about aquiring players to actually solve those problems. This will not turn into a trade speculation thread where people start to randomly throw out players names that could help and say “we should go get that guy”.

    Almost any issue that the Lakers have this season will need to be solved internally or not solved at all. So, I think us fans need to focus on our issues from that perspective. To steal (and update) a line from Rick Pitino, Trevor Ariza is not walking through that door.

  64. 49) Its no secret that the offense flows better with LO in there instead of Bynum. Phil has said so himself. If it gets to the point we are being outscored in a big game, guess what will happen? Bynum will be benched. No biggie. He’s getting his extra minutes now so he can be sharp defensively when it matters.

    How did this turn into a starting PG debate? We have 5 guards. So far I’d say all of them have pretty well-defined roles at this point. I’d say they are all improving their play within those roles.

  65. One thing I’d like to see tonight is a kickout from the post followed by a skip pass to the opposite wing. I think Pau and Bynum see every touch on the block as “their turn to shoot right now”.

  66. if you agree with the notion that “we are what we are” (there’s at least two things wrong with that statement), you may as well give up on any idea of a repeat.

  67. Shooting is so important to spacing, and spacing is critical to positive ball movement. I think at heart our best perimeter players aren’t comfortable filling a pure shooting role so we have a growing imbalance problem that is killing our spacing and flow.

    This year, our best offensive lineup is Farmar, Kobe, Artest, Odom, Gasol. Second is Farmar, Kobe, Artest, Odom, Bynum. While Odom is not a great shooter, he does pull the opposing PF away from the basket so that Gasol/Drew have more room inside. Even though Odom is a much less efficient individual offensive player than either Pau or Drew, his presence increases team offensive efficiency because we avoid the logjams in the paint, and have more players that can pass/shoot/penetrate.

    In 2008, our best offensive lineup (and one of the best the league has seen in years) was Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, Odom, Gasol (137 points per 100 possessions). That year we had multiple lineups with an offensive rating over 120 — and they all featured skilled bigs who could shoot from the perimeter (Odom, Gasol, Turiaf), and players who could shoot the three (Sasha, Fisher/Farmar, Vlad).

    Last year, our best offensive lineup (with meaningful minutes) was Farmar, Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Gasol (123 rating). Second was the same lineup subbing Fisher for Farmar (120 rating).

    I’m looking here for trends over several years. What works in a triangle-Kobe based offense. And what I see is that the best model is to have one dominant post big and surround him with skilled players who can shoot. Pau and Drew put up incredible individual offensive numbers. But the team does not put up great offensive numbers when they are on the court together. Our eyes tell us why — poor balance and spacing.

    It is far better to have Odom play with one of them. Having an Odom that is making 3s and diving to the basket (see 2008 and 2009 playoffs), along with a PG and SF that shoot over 40% from three (2008 Vlad, Sasha, and Fisher; 2009 playoffs Ariza) turns us into a historically great offensive team.

    What does this mean?

    (1) Odom should close games and play more minutes, even if he’s half mailing it in this year. Maybe more time would spark his interest.

    (2) We must have our PGs and SFs shooting well from three to win the title. I think Artest can do it well enough. I’m not sure about our PGs.

    (3) We might be inefficiently utilizing our talent/money. It might not make sense to pay Pau and Drew $30M combined when they don’t synergize that well, especially when we have such a glaring PG and shooting problem. I’m not advocating a trade, but I’m just saying we might have a resource allocation issue.

  68. busboys4me, you can spell defense either way, depends on if you’re in the US or UK, so erase that criticism please.
    you also state that Kobe is on the decline in his career, again I disagree, these are injuries you speak about, not signs of age. yes, I agree that he does have a lot of mileage, but if the owner takes exceptional care, then mileage isn’t really a factor, and we all know Kobe takes exceptional care of himself.
    I think you’ll see, when his health is back, (and I guess this is the determining factor, “when” because if he comes back on schedule, then he’s not declining, if not, then you may have a point), but when he’s at full strength, I don’t think you’ll be able to make the case that he’s on the decline of his career.
    and yes, the Cav’s are playing great, but I wouldn’t be too quick to bet against us in a 7 game series.

  69. >busboys4me, you can spell defense either way, depends on if you’re in the US or UK, so erase that criticism please.

    I think the offensive [heh] word was “offesne”, which isn’t even in the OED. :)

  70. is pau not capable of developing his 15 – 18 footer a little bit more? seems like he’s got the stroke to do it… maybe not as good as z or brad miller…. but it’d definitley help the spacing in a pau, bynum lineup if he could make a couple of those shots a game.

  71. Good disccussion.

    Two other points I’d like to make, being an Occam’s Razor kind of guy:

    1. Phil basically plays 8 guys. 7 were on last year’s team. Of those 7, 3–Brown, Bynum and Farmar–have seen their offensive rate numbers improve in some key areas. 4–Bryant, Odom, Gasol and Fisher–have seen some decline. Artest, true to his word, has used the same number of possessions Ariza was using, but is slightly less efficient. So, it may simply be that the team is starting to show its age.
    2. The team’s best passer, Walton, has hardly played at all.

    Looking at NBA HotSpots, both Gasol and Bryant have dropped off significantly in their percentage around the rim–from .622 to .561 in Kobe’s case. This may be a combination of age and a few easy baskets people were getting based on Walton’s feeds. Bynum’s numbers around the rim have stayed about the same.

  72. Re #68-

    I’ve been saying that Farmar/Bryant/Artest/Odom/Gasol is our best lineup for a while now, and most people just ignore or laugh at me. I think most people give zero credence to stats(and especially +/-, even though it is just summing up scores) when forming their opinions.

    I just hope that someone on the Lakers is looking at lineup performance. Farmar and Odom starting would solve a lot of our problems if they play half as well as they have in more limited minutes.

    Did you know that when Farmar plays with Kobe this year but without Brown that the Lakers outscore teams by 27.0 points per game? That is an unreal number, yet most Laker fans think that he sucks.

    Also, you are right about Bynum and Gasol. Both of them have had a non-existent midrange game this year. If you want to see exactly, look up their shooting at NBA.com using hotspots. So basically we are paying 35 million for a center since they both seem to only be able to play the center position offensively. That is a crazy amount to spend, and can’t be justified unless Bynum or Gasol are able to greatly improve certain aspects of their games in the near future.

  73. Lineups:

    I suggested more burn for:

    Odom/Walton/Bynum/Farmar

    and

    Gasol/Artest/Bryant/Vujacic

    with the 5th guy depending on matchups.

  74. To follow up on Reed’s post (#68). Our best two defensive lineups all have Farmar, Brown, Artest, and Odom – with our #1 defensive unit have Bynum playing Center and our #2 unit having Pau at Center (is it a surprise that Kobe is not on one of our top 2 defensive units? Really, that’s a serious question). However, our 3rd and 4th best defensive units are the exact same units that Reed mentioned as our top two offensive units. Does this mean that we’ll see these lineups more? I have no clue, but the statistical argument is there to have those groups of players playing the most minutes together and for Phil to close games with one of those two groups as they’ll give us the best combination of Offense and Defense. Really it comes down to Farmar being in there at PG to close games and Phil making a decision on which one of our Bigs (Bynum or Gasol) sits to be paired with LO. Interesting.

  75. its amazing we talkin about ariza. confirms my fears that this is one trade will come to haunt lakers. look at ariza’s steals per game compared to ron. we shoulda kept ariza and steal artest like pau

  76. 76) – It’s spilled milk at this point on the Ariza/Artest swap. The Lakers have to make do with what they have now. This is what Phil gets paid the big bucks for. He has to figure it out.

    I still think this team can win the title. There have been plenty of title teams that did not look like world beaters in February. But these guys have to see the problems for what they are and make an effort to change. It can start with Kobe sitting down for a few games and allowing himself to heal. His “toughing it out” is a big part of the offensive flow issues of late.

    Also, let me say I would love to Luke on the floor more often as well. Is his back still giving him problems? If not, the guy needs more time on the floor. He seems to be the only player left on the team that still wants to run the Triangle.

  77. Walton’s back is bugging him again, yes. I agree he should be out there a little more –10-12 minutes a game.

  78. So Kobe will play tonight against Denver.

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2010/02/bryant-to-play-tonight-no-surprise.html

    Really, this thing is not cute anymore. Kobe is running the risk of sustaining a season ending injury. If that happens, good bye repeat. He IS human. Maybe he has forgotten that.

    In all seriousness this is becoming a bit much.

  79. Nice post Darius and I also agree with 68-Reed. With regard to Odom “half-mailing” it in, I think LO will close the season strong as he always does. IMHO, he usually spends the first half (until the allstar break) getting into game shape.

    Spacing is huge and we have too many guys doing the same thing (trying to get theirs in the post). Ariza/Kobe/Fisher were able to create space last year and keep d’s honest. With Kobe spending more time in the post and Fish struggling, I’m not sure where that same spacing comes from.

  80. How is this Laker team meshing? I ask that because looking at the photo above more closely, it lookes like Ron Ron & Kobe are having a heated exchange and that Pau is trying to get in between them. The other day, Pau was saying Kobe is shooting too much and I thought that was weird for Pau to publicly say something….I am just asking.

  81. 81) – I wouldn’t read too much into that picture. It actually appears that Ron’s menacing look is directed at an opposing team’s player and Kobe and Pau are trying to keep him from opening up a can.

    Outside of Pau’s comments I don’t think there is any strife behind the scenes. If so, the L.A. media would have picked it up and ran with it already.

  82. thisisweaksauce February 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I really want to see Sasha get some run at point, and just shoot when he’s completely wide open. Not off the dribble, but catch and shoot.

    Oh, and on an unrelated topic, how do referees keep their composure after someone hits a clutch, crazy shot? After Kobe’s shot against Boston, the ref looked completely emotionless. There must be some sort of job training for that.

  83. Kobe may say he wants to play. But Phil is the one that assigns play-time. So, we can be mad at Kobe for suiting up. But at the end of the day, Phil has the power to let him start and then bench him the rest of the game.

  84. Hollinger writes today that two teams can challenge the Lakers in the West (Insider) – one assumes that one is Denver.. and the other? I’m guessing that it’s Utah (based on his infernal rankings).

  85. 81 and 82, moto and T. – Actually, Pau was showing A-Ron his bandaged finger when Kobe walked up and said, “You boys want to see a bandaged finger?” The photo captures A-Ron’s response, “You alpha, Bean. Pure alpha.”

  86. I have seen post before about Bynum coming off the bench and starting LO. Do you think he would accept that role now more than he would have at the beginning of the year? With the offense struggling and the rotation of him and Pau in the lineup together not efficient, would his mind be open to the spot that LO currently holds. I say its worth a try to see what happens, it cant get any worse than it is. I have seen the lineup with either Pau or Bynum on the bench at the end of games, so it wouldnt be that big of a deal to implement th switch to start the game.

  87. It’s kind of funny that a thread identifying 3-point shooting as the prime suspect in the drop-off in offensive performance this season would also feature comments lamenting the “trade” of Ariza for Artest.

    Ariza’s hot 3-point shooting in last year’s postseason led many sports journalists to speculate that the Lakers were giving up skill in that area. However, more reasonable analysis pointed to Ariza being a 30% shooter from beyond the arc (or in the “short” corner, eh joel?) during the regular season and Artest being closer to 40%. The reasonableness was in the assumption that these were better indicators of future performance than the playoff stats.

    Guess what, that’s exactly what we got. So that means that Ariza instead of Artest would actually amplify the problem, not solve it.

    I think it will take some luck (e.g., someone exhibiting an Ariza-like hot streak during the playoffs) o get the Lakers another trophy. Fingers crossed.

  88. Denver preview up.

  89. Kobe IS the problem. He shoots far too much, and sets a very poor example for the young guards, who are the next biggest offenders. Bynum might be a “black hole” as Kurt claims, but he is also the Lakers most efficient scorer. When you give the guy 3 shots in a game (that they lose) you can expect this black hole phenomenon to continue. Feed him early and often, and watch how easily the offense will flow. This isn’t difficult to fix at all, except for the stubbornness of Kobe in giving up the rock.

  90. 83. Most refs probably don’t like Kobe, so they were probably like damn, not again. j/p

    Lakers offense???? Maybe its not the fact that they aren’t are running the triangle well, maybe its the fact that Phil won’t let the lakers switch up their style of play when the triangle isn’t working. Does anyone remember the first game vs. Utah in L.A.? The Lakers were sluggish the whole game, couldn’t pull away from the Jazz. Then boom, the lakers ran Utah right out of the gym. Phil put in his up tempo line up with brown, lamar, farmar, pau, and i think kobe was in the game but not sure if he was. But the lakers have the luxury of playing many styles of basketball. They can slow it down and run the triangle, scrap the triangle and just pound it inside, play semi uptempo or umtempo and of course the “Kobe”. But I don’t think really went back to that uptempo style of basketball since. I think they’ve been stuck in this slow it down and grind out type of basketball.

    I’m not saying whenever the triangle isn’t working just abandon it completely. But just change the pace of the game for a good stretch and put the other team on their heels, then go back to their bread and butter, the Triangle and of course Kobe.

  91. Ive said this since earlier in the season–that the lakers struggle to score 100+. I had the cause of that injuries and an inability or less focus on getting EASY transition buckets, something ARIZA did well for us las season. Artest has been hurt and while he gets steals he isn’t the slasher ariza was. Kobes injuries have limited his driving ability and we have virtually NO 3point specialist ala daniel gibson. Compound that with the fact that phil only plays an 8man rotation and we have wut we have. We need MORE guys to contribute. If were not trading vujacic than give him some min., hes doesnt look as horrid as he did last season. The past two seasons drew and pau hardly played together and i dont think theyre a great fit together since each one limits the others’ effectiveness. That said fisher has clearly showed his age this season and his numbers r down-way down. We need to acquire a pg that can knock down the occasional 3 and develop our guys into shooters.



    Just look at our cleveland losses this season. Were too predictable; shaq and z hounded the paint and kobe was double-teamed bcuz no team respects our shooters. We need them to make outside shots to space the floor and open up the game on the inside. Of course better passing can solve this dilemma but if our guys get OPEN shots and still dont make them then we have ourselves a problem…..Like i said, the team as it is will NOT repeat as champs. hopefully mitch can realize this and a change (minor) to improve our team. If buss is willing to spend to win a championship then he should continue to do so considering he has an ATM machine called staples center and the most profitable team in the league. Another championship can only increase his revenue.

  92. When Kobe goes into ISO mode he is challenged. He is trying to prove to himself he can conquer the situation at hand. His competitive nature sometimes blinds him. He makes comments like “my boys have to step it up”. For who? For him? For the Lakers? Who are they playing for? He doesnt swing the ball in rhythm. Thats when those outside shots are made. He breaks the rhythm of the offense 80% of the time. Keep it real Mychal Thompson! Phil has to know what’s really going on. Yes Kobe is the truth but it shouldnt be all about him in the language. I have never seen that offense runs so sweet until Kobe was out. They only lost by one to Boston. That was no fluke. They could have easliy won by one. Then what would the conversation be? How about another offense to surprise teams. Flip the script!!! How about running different plays. Artest is not a triangle type player. You better ask somebody!!! He’s not used right. Phil you have to adjust to what you have. Triangle could work for you and also I see it hurting them as well in some games. Variety would really shift the paradigm!!!! Shifting the paradigm will allow them to repeat. If they dont, mark my word they wont make it to the finals. Kobe still has somethings to learn. Its not his actual ability, its an inner vision that has to mature even more now. Stagnation has set in. Laker fans know this is the truth. My varsity basketball team can see whats going on. A devotion to truth enables a revolution. The mentality of its Kobe’s team is too prevelant and it’s stated too much. It’s ISO conversation. Magic Johnson had a way of making everyone on the court look good.. Not for him but for the Lakers. haaaa. get it!! Its too much about Kobe. He needs to step it up but in a different way. He has to figure it out. He can’t do it by himself. It’s not about that. It shouldnt come down to last minute shots. I would want to depend on that type of side show to win everynight. People are missing the big picture here.