Friday Forum

Darius Soriano —  March 22, 2013

The Lakers return to action tonight after not playing since Monday. That fatigue filled night saw a loss to the Suns and post game questions about D’Antoni’s insistence on only playing the same 7 guys on back to back nights only to watch them plod around the floor like 5 Herman Munsters. The days off, then, should serve several purposes — this team should be well rested AND they should be as close to full strength as they’re likely to be all year with Kobe (ankle) and Pau (foot) likely to rejoin the team.

Having a rested and relatively healthy team will be a new thing for this group of Lakers in a season that’s been Murphy’s Law realized. The fact that they’ve been finding their stride recently (Suns game notwithstanding) only provides more hope that things are finally starting to turn in a positive direction. However, as with most anything that looks positive on its face, there are potential drawbacks that need to be accounted for. Integrating Pau back into a lineup where everyone had defined roles during his absence could be a bit tricky. Some players will likely see their minutes cut and others will see their roles shifted. Pau too will be returning to a role that was not the one he left, starting next to Howard rather than relieving him as the team’s top reserve.

That said, the more things change, the more they stay the same and with Kobe and Pau back there should be a sense of normalcy in finally having a semblance of the team that was put together last July. The stretch run is here and these guys sound ready to leave it all on the floor in one final push to achieve their lofty goals. Now, around the web we go…

  • Kobe and Pau practiced yesterday, but how did they look? Mike Trudell tweeted out Steve Nash’s impressions:

In relating this back to the Lakers, there was one excerpt from part two of Lowe’s work that stuck out to me. The lead in is that some plays that are typically seen as inefficient (like isolations) can often lead to more efficient actions due to how the defense responds to them:

The same is true of post-ups, which are low efficiency on their own, but much higher when you include shots that come via kick-out passes to open shooters and other trickle-down events — at least according to Toronto’s data. Post-ups are also more likely than other plays to lead to some end-of-possession event, and not to the resetting of the offense.

Just yesterday NBA TV was showing a replay of the Lakers/Raptors game where Kobe (and others) went crazy and led the Lakers to a thrilling comeback win in overtime. On one set in the 4th quarter, the Lakers dumped the ball into Dwight on the right block. Dwight then skipped the ball out to a spot up shooter who was on the left side of the floor, above the break in the three point line. When the defense rotated, that player passed to the shooter in the corner. When the defense closed out, that player drove the ball to the middle of the floor and  then kicked the ball back out to the shooter who originally entered the ball to Dwight in the post. That player than hit a three pointer that continued the Lakers’ comeback effort.

What’s my point? Well, the play that ended with a spot up jumper actually started with a post up by Dwight Howard. It may have taken 3 passes, but eventually the ball found the open man and he beat the defense with a made shot. This isn’t to harp on D’Antoni’s approach, but this play reminded me of a quote from his opening press conference where he called the post up “one of the least efficient plays in basketball.”

On the surface, he’s right. But when you dig deeper, plays like the one described above are often lost in the shuffle when thinking about a “post up”. Dwight didn’t shoot the ball, but he sure did start the play by establishing the post, drawing a help defender and triggering the rotations that set off a series of events that ultimately led to an open jumper. Just something to think about moving forward and something that we will, hopefully, have a better understanding of as the data gets better and better.

Darius Soriano

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  1. The SportVU cameras are interesting. Although with all the time the Raptors staffers spent writing the code to analyze it, they could have used the time to scout Bargnani.

    Tangentially related, I was surprised that the Lakers were the only team without representation at the Sloan Conference this year, esp because Buss explained his trust in analytics. But Jim Buss has his own #s and formulas and I guess that’s what we’ll be rolling with in the future.


  2. I updated the post to include video of the post up play I described.

    Also, I’ve no clue if this had anything to do with it, but Jerry Buss’ passing was only a couple of weeks before the Sloan Conference. Combined with him being in poor health for most of this season & the fact that many of the Lakers’ front office people are actually Buss family members, that may have something to do with why the Lakers didn’t have a rep there. Again, I’m not sure if this was the case, but it may have played a part.


  3. the other Stephen March 22, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Snoopy: Right, I was also bummed that the Lakers didn’t bother to send a representative. You look at Houston, which has developed a system that maximizes analytics and translates into real-life wins, and it makes you wonder how people can afford to be ignorant of the field. If you decide to use analytics, you’re buying into a growing field where the modus operandi is shared research, and methods are still being developed and refined and proven wrong. I don’t see how you can operate on an island.


  4. he called the post up “one of the least efficient plays in basketball.”

    So I guess this means that players like LBJ, MJ, and KB are inefficent when they post up, and they are better off staying outside or slashing? Well – that is an opinion. It differs from mine.


  5. Robert,
    Overall, the numbers don’t lie on this. Relative to spot up jumpers, shots taken off cuts, and other play types, isolations and straight post ups are not very efficient at all.


  6. Snoopy,

    I mentioned that at the time. Kupchak said that they are sending someone next year. And, at the time, I speculated along the same lines Darius did as to the reasons.

    In my opinion, the Lakers’ lack of interest in advanced stats is probably negatively affecting their drafting and bench-building. Several writers, including Hollinger and Pelton, have said that the Lakers use advanced analytics less than any organization in basketball.


    Well – that is an opinion. It differs from mine.


    Not that I disagree in this particular case, but the line you used in the last thread, about “everything being an opinion”–can’t agree there. Not all opinions are created equal. Some are backed up better than others are.


  7. hey dave m: so what you really saying is, that’s why coach d has no rings….

    message rec’d; over and out and that’s the way, ah huh, ah huh, we like it.

    everybody’s eyes will be on gasol tonite. wonder if he’s self conscious. and everybody’s third eye will be on coach d to see what he does with gasol. and that’s the way, ah huh, ah huh, we like it

    what else you’d expect?

    Happy Friday.

    Go Lakers


  8. rr: I’m not sure you can equate a bad bench to Lakers not being into advanced stats as every other team in the league. Advanced stats didn’t force Lamar to ask for a trade, have an effect on Dwight’s ft shooting or winning back to back titles therefore being stuck with crappy picks. And more importantly injuries, which you were out in front of as a reason the Lakers may not reach their full potential this season because of age. I’m not sure advanced stats would help with those things. Lakers woes drafting and bench building have more to do with top heavy salary and winning titles which means Lakers usually get projects in the 2nd round. But if the advanced stats show Jim Metta isn’t a top tier defender like he says he is I’m all for it.


  9. I’m not sure, either–that is why I said “opinion.” But I think that in picking up marginal players who can help a team, or getting a guy with a late pick, advanced stats are probably helpful.

    The Game Thread is up. Kobe Alert Time.


  10. So wait, if the post up is so inefficient, why double and convince the offense to take a supposedly more efficient shot?

    Obviously there is more to it then that. When down low, offensive rebounding opportunities are more available for the type of player that will be down there often. We had a volleyball team winning championships in 2009 and ’10. So, misses in the post are a little different then missed jumpers or even layups. Looking at the shooting percentages of effective post up players, they just fly in the face of the idea that they are inefficient shots.

    The point remains, if post ups are inefficient aren’t defenses making a mistake in trying to keep the ball out of there and further aggravating that error by stressing their defense in using double-teams to get it out of there?


  11. P Ami,
    If you’re seriously asking, here are a few things to chew on…

    *Shooting percentages of post up players actually aren’t that high on post ups. They’re high on shots close to the basket that aren’t contested — dunks, lay ups, etc. Most post ups don’t lead to those shots. They lead to shots in the 5-9 foot range which aren’t that efficient at all when looking at league wide averages.

    *Doubling the post can be a good strategy in ways beyond forcing passes to other players. Some players shoot anyway and miss. Some players try to continue their move or can’t read double teams well and turn the ball over. There are benefits to pressuring players with a second defender that are different than “this guy is a threat from the post, let’s double team him”.

    *Offensive rebounding is often a product of spacing and rebounding prowess as much as it is from shooting shots close to the basket. The Triangle — the offense run when the Lakers won the titles you referenced — ran that offense AND had three of the better rebounding big men in the league at the time. The spacing that offense generated combined with the inherent ball movement contributed greatly to those players’ ability to get to the offensive glass.

    I’d agree that defenses aren’t that smart in this area and should pick their spots better. The best defenses, I think, stay home more than double team and force post players to score efficiently while covering up shooters who would otherwise take open shots.