Archives For Laker Analysis

Preseason is behind us. We’ve counted the stats and learned a few things in the process. But, come Thursday, the real games start. The question is, what will be the Lakers starting lineup? We still don’t know.

The question of who will start at power forward is still unknown. We have our opinions, but Luke Walton is still mum on who it will be. If I were a betting man, I’d lean towards Larry Nance who has been getting run with the first five and because Julius Randle still isn’t practicing fully (he did not scrimmage in Tuesday’s session).

The other question, though, has nothing to do with injury or a positional battle, but with a suspension. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will miss the first two games of the regular season after pleading guilty to DUI charges while still a member of the Detroit Pistons. KCP’s suspension opens the door for another Lakers wing to join the starting group. Only, we don’t know who it will be.

And neither does Walton. Or at least he’s not saying even if he does.

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Lonzo Ball practiced fully, without limitations, on Monday and it was a welcomed sight to all. After missing the final four games of the preseason, he was back on the court with his teammates for all activities — including the team’s scrimmage which concluded the team’s work. After finally getting through an entire session, Ball cleared himself for Thursday’s season opener pretty definitively:

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Six games up and six games down, and Lakers preseason is over. We had a pinch of excitement, some great surprises, a tad of disappointment, a pretty boring final game, and were left with a lot of questions. Why didn’t Kyle Kuzma score 50 points a game? How come someone scored on defensive player of the century Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Will Lonzo ever make a shot? Difficult, probing questions.

6 games of basketball has also left us with some data. Here are 25 stats from preseason that highlight some good (and bad) performances:

Offense

  1. Despite Lonzo Ball only playing in 2 of 6 preseason games, the Lakers had 23.2% of their offensive possessions be generated in transition. That’s higher than any team this preseason and higher than any regular season team on record.
  2. The team’s half court efficiency checks in at 20th and their transition efficiency a measly 26th.
  3. LA’s efficiency in special situations regressed from where it was the first few games, but they finished preseason 11th in BLOB (baseline out of bounds) efficiency, 6th in SLOB (sideline out of bounds) efficiency, and 4th in ATO (after timeout) efficiency.
  4. Accounting for both scoring and passing leading to shots, the Lakers ranked 8th in isolation efficiency, 16th in pick and roll efficiency, and 20th in post up efficiency.
  5. The Lakers were the 27th most efficient team in catch and shoot efficiency and 20th in pull up efficiency. This is not a good shooting team.
  6. Larry Nance Jr had 7 transition possessions in 6 games. Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma each had 24, Jordan Clarkson had 19, Brandon Ingram had 17, and KCP had 16.
  7. Ingram shot 3 for 11 on those transition shots, which is very very bad. KCP shot 5 for 14 on his transition looks, which is also terrible.
  8. Julius Randle’s efficiencies in his play types are almost identical to what they were last season, but his overall efficiency has spiked. Why? Because instead of isolation being his most frequent half court play type it’s fallen to just 4.5% of his offense.
  9. The Lakers had zero (0) players above the 50th percentile in spot up shooting efficiency. Kuz lead the team & was exactly the 50th percentile.
  10. Jordan Clarkson was 9 for 14 scoring from the pick and roll (89th percentile PPP) and guys shot 7 for 12 after his PnR kickouts.
  11. Brook Lopez was a perfect 6 for 6 shooting as a pick and roll roller. He had 3 pops, 2 rolls, and 1 slip.
  12. Kuzma led the team in isolation possessions with 11, and scored 15 points on those chances. He shot 4 for 6 and drew 4 shooting fouls. His 1.364 points per possession was the second best of any preseason NBA player.
  13. Julius Randle shot 3 for 10 in the post, Lopez shot 4 for 9, Kuzma was 1 for 2, and Ingram was 0 for 3.
  14. KCP had 13 off screen possessions and scored 1.000 PPP on those chances (50th percentile). No other laker had more than 3 off screen possessions.
  15. Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. led the team with 2 putback makes each.

Defense

  1. The Lakers finished preseason with the 20th best defense overall, 20th in transition, and 15th in the half court.
  2. No team defended the pick and roll better than the Lakers… Well, sort of. The team held opponents to 0.505 points per possession from pick and roll ball handler shots, an absolutely elite number.
  3. However, the Lakers ranked 29th in defense of roll men, and when accounting for both spot up and roll man shots from the pick and roll along with ball handler shots, LA’s defense ranks only 16th. This is likely a sign that the team is committing too early on ball handlers in the pick and roll, and it’s costing them positioning to defend kick outs.
  4. The Lakers have contested 55.3% of the catch and shoot jump shots they’ve faced. That number has increased from 51.1% during the regular season last year.
  5. Larry Nance Jr. leads the team in fouls committed with 16. Randle and Ingram each have 13, tied for second.
  6. LA’s pull up defense ranks 3rd, but their catch and shoot defense ranks 32nd of the 36 teams that played during preseason (which include several international club teams). This could be a symptom of a team over helping and leaving shooters open on kick outs.
  7. Opponents shot 15 for 50 when Kyle Kuzma was their primary defender, and his defensive PPP of 0.645 put him in the 81st percentile among preseason players. That’s really good.
  8. Julius Randle’s defense was even stouter, conceding just 0.625 points per possession, placing him in the 84th percentile. He notably only had 1 shooting foul in 56 possessions, an incredibly low 1.8% rate that was lower than any player with as many defensive possessions.
  9. The Laker giving up the lowest FG% against is Josh Hart at 27.3% (6/22).
  10. Alex Caruso, who in 50 D-League games last year was in the 81st percentile defensively, finished this preseason with a PPP in the 82nd percentile. He also leads the team in steals with 10.

lakers-power-forward-position-battle

If you ask Luke Walton he’ll tell you that the starter for the Lakers power forward position is yet to be determined. There are three candidates – Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Kyle Kuzma. Each offers specific skill sets that are varied and useful enough to be considered legitimate answers.

Walton, does seem to be leaning towards Randle or Nance, however:

Are either Randle or Nance the best answer? Is it actually Kuzma? While Walton and his staff will have the final say, we commissioned our writers to weigh in on the topic too. So, without further ado, here’s what the folks at FB&G think about it all…

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lakers-analysis-ten-takeaways-lakers-preseason

Lakers preseason is over and the regular season is around the corner. But before we close the chapter on the exhibition season, it’s good to take a look back and think about what we learned and how those games can inform our expectations for the real games. So, without further ado, here are ten takeaways from the Lakers preseason.

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The waves coming in and out at the beach. A sunset. Steph Curry shooting jump shots. These are all pretty things. Andrew Bogut’s offensive Synergy profile? Not so much.

Bogut played 26 games last season for the Dallas Mavericks. He didn’t have big minutes or play a ton of games, but he had 944 touches last season, 80% the number of touches Ivica Zubac had.

If you were to pull Bogut’s Synergy data, you’d see his 0.612 points per possession scoring efficiency, which would rank him 397th of 398 players who had at least as many possessions as Bogut last season.

You’d also see that he has the highest turnover percentage of any of those 398 players at 33.3%. One out of every three possessions Bogut had was a turnover.

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The Dunc’d On Podcast is one of my favorite NBA listens. Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux are smart, insightful, and die hard NBA fans who provide informed opinions on all topics NBA. For the 3rd consecutive year, then, I am more than thrilled to join Nate to discuss the Lakers on his podcast as part of his season outlook series.

In this episode Nate and I discuss Lonzo Ball’s upcoming rookie season, whether Brandon Ingram can be a positive impact player who helps the Lakers win games, Kyle Kuzma’s emergence as a potential rotation player, and whether the team’s defense will improve this season.

We also discuss Brook Lopez’s importance to this roster and how he can help on both sides of the ball — specifically how his presence on offense will create the type of spacing that helps Julius Randle on the inside while giving Lonzo and Ingram the type of outlet and scoring anchor who can make their lives easier.

Lastly, we get into our win projections for the team and why hitting or exceeding the Vegas over/under is more important this year than in many others.

Click through to listen to the entire episode and a big thanks to Nate for inviting me on.

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Brandon Ingram is perhaps the most interesting and important player on the Lakers as we begin this new season. Is he a blue chip prospect who will make repeated all star visits in his prime, or is he going to end up “just” a really good role player? Where he falls on this spectrum will massively impact the Lakers’ future, and I see a wide variety of possible outcomes.

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