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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