Week At A Glance

Andre Khatchaturian —  November 16, 2013

The Lakers dropped three of four games this week and now find themselves in 12th place in the Western Conference. Laker fans have been slowly forced to admit the fact that the Lakers are just not a very good team without Kobe.

That said, the fact that Kobe is out gives the Lakers at least a glimmer of hope. We still can’t evaluate this team completely without Bryant in the lineup and things can change rapidly assuming the Mamba returns healthy and plays at a high level. But until then, the Lakers’ struggles may continue.

One of the most glaring stats so far this season is the Lakers horrendous free throw percentage. The team isn’t shooting as many free throws this year compared to last, but they’re shooting just 69.7 percent from the charity stripe – the third worst figure in the league. Apparently losing Dwight Howard hasn’t made a difference for the Lakers in that department. Last season, they shot 69.2 percent from the free throw line.

Making a couple of more free throws per game could really help in tight games like the one the Lakers lost on Friday night against Memphis.

Shot selection has also been a major problem for the Lakers. The team continues to take inefficient shots. The league wide probability to make a mid range jumper is far less than a shot from the paint and the value of both shots is two points. It’s an obvious concept – pound it in and take high percentage shots. But the Lakers have taken 29 percent of their shots from the mid-range, up five percent from last season. They have taken the second most shots in the NBA from that zone. To add salt to the wounds, the Lakers aren’t exactly great from the mid range either only making 33 percent of their shots from that zone.

In terms of individual performance, Pau Gasol continues to have an awful plus-minus at -8.4. Steve Nash is not far behind at -6. It’s surprising that the Lakers have even won four games thus far with Nash hurt and Gasol playing poorly. With Gasol and Nash playing poorly, the Lakers have desperately needed someone to step up and take over the team. Unfortunately, nobody has.

No Laker has even come close to scoring 30 points in a game. The highest individual point total by a Laker this season has been just 25 points. With players being so inconsistent, it’s become extremely difficult for Mike D’Antoni to have a set rotation. He’s had to rely on who’s hot and who’s not.

For instance, this week, we saw a lot of Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill. Meeks had an offensive rating of 108.9 and a true shooting percentage of 71.8 percent. Hill, on the other hand, has 2.3 blocks and 10.3 rebounds in the last three games. That’s great, but neither Meeks or Hill have shown they can sustain solid play over a long period of time. After all, Jordan Farmar had a solid stretch last week but only shot 20 percent this week. Would anyone really be surprised if Meeks and Hill fall in a swoon next week?

Gasol and Nash are the only ones capable of consistently playing well on this team. However, with Nash ailing and Gasol consistently playing awful, Laker fans can expect to see more L’s than W’s.

Fortunately for them, Kobe partook in his first practice since his injury today. The light at the end of the tunnel is near. The Lakers also only have two games this week so they can get some much needed rest after playing eight games over a stretch of two weeks. After a tilt with the Pistons tomorrow, the Lakers have four days off before a huge showdown against Golden State at home.

Andre Khatchaturian

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11 responses to Week At A Glance

  1. The 1st game coming off a road trip is a road game.

  2. Not an awe inspiring start to the season. We’ve lost three of four games. Being buried in 12th place in the WC is no fun. We are also 26th in offensive efficiency (ouch). The team has a bad habit of playing hard but faltering down the stretch. When Vino gets back we’ll be better but we are still, by no means, stocked with elite talent so the goings will continue to be tough. We knew this coming into the season but sometimes reality is a hard pill to swallow. For what its worth I’m still going to enjoy this team and look forward to the future (which appears to be bright). GO LAKERS!!

  3. As someone who doesn’t expect too much from this team, I too suffer in losses. So don’t think that I am ok with losing. As Darius tweets, losing winnable games (Spurs, Nuggets, Pelicans and Grizzlies) still piss the Laker out of me.

    Effort and energy to me are not cliches. They are requirements to a team to be successful. You think the Spurs take it easy and they are 9-1 simply out of talent? You think the Pacers close their eyes into their record? No. These teams work hard, except that they have more talent that carry them through rough patches and somehow pull out wins.

    The Knicks and Nets have the highest payrolls in the league – but have the exact win% as us. Those are 2 teams that have championship aspirations before the season began. The Nuggets and Grizzlies are 2 teams that the talking heads referred to as “locks” for playoff spots and yet where are they now.

    I must say the surprise team for me is Portland thus far. I think that bunch is making it into the playoffs.

  4. This Lakers season should be viewed as transitional to roster upgrades. Hopefully Lakers will avoid 30 yr old players like Melo with a million miles. Roster strategy should be obtaining high caliber players 28 years and younger. Old players plus Kobe won’t win a championship (a la Brooklyn). A team with younger primary scorers besides Kobe may be competitive.

    Current Lakers play hard and are relatively entertaining to watch. On a given night seems they can beat any NBA team. Not bad for a roster with Bryant, Gasol and Nash consuming 90% of the payroll and producing 15% or less of the points.

  5. Treylake, given your logic the Lakers should be targeting: Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward and Avery Bradley. These are the 4 remain from the 2010 draft class and one would most-likely take a Laker contract. But they are restricted.

    As for unrestricted free agents, the names of: Luol Deng and Danny Granger are both 28 and over. Other possible opters are: Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph. These guys are over 28 as well.

  6. The Nuggets and Grizzlies are 2 teams that the talking heads referred to as “locks” for playoff spots and yet where are they now.

    Memphis, yes, but you are wrong on Denver. Also, it’s early.

  7. Gasol being a minus is as much as the Lakers starters being inferior to every team’s starters….Its the second unit that the Lakers need to make up ground…..

  8. The Grizzlies & Nuggets deserve to lose; both teams fired successful coaches due to idiotic management politics. However its early; so we shall see. I just hope that we can gel into a cohesive unit. Hopefully we come together tonight and beat the Piston in front of the home crowd.

  9. Politics: Sometimes trades are Vetoed due to politics, sometimes coaches are fired due to politics, and sometimes coaches are not hired due to politics. In all cases, politics should not drive the decision but rather it should be “basketball reasons”.

  10. @WWL Top restricted FA’s like Monroe, Hayward, Bledsoe, etc. require over paying to obtain. Luol Deng & Rudy Gay are attractive. Zach Randolph is a little long in tooth and too slow for the MDA pace.

    Typically when NBA players reach unrestricted free agency they are close to 30 where a new 4 or 5 year contract will take them past their prime. Signing a 30 yr old to a max contract is a dicey investment.

    Who wants a 34 year old Melo making $20 million on their team?

  11. Well the laker’s usually have multiple scenarios. This year was probably plan C. Bledsoe and Monroe would be nice building blocks for the future. Rudy Gay not worth top dollar considering his play of late, Luol Deng would be nice, but he also has a lot of milage. But in the end it all depends on how Kobe pans out, is he capable of giving a few more productive years and how much of a pay cut is he willing to take.