Archives For Laker Analysis

Welcome to a new series for FB&G for the 2016 off-season. This series will focus on team building and various paths the Lakers have open to them for the upcoming off-season. We will try to cover a variety of scenarios the Lakers could feasibly take and what moves might be involved with that specific approach. Our first installment will focuses on taking a slow and steady approach. 

It’s funny how the perception of a team’s potential trajectory can be impacted in such a short amount of time. A month ago, on April 23rd, Byron Scott was still the Lakers’ head coach, Luke Walton was probably stressing out about Steph Curry’s knee injury and thinking about the Dubs losing game 3 to the Rockets, and the Lakers (and their fans) were still sweating about whether the team would keep their top-3 protected lottery pick.

Of course, a month later, things are entirely different and the general perception around the team is that they are a team on a major upswing. They now have a charismatic and young new head coach, they have the 2nd pick in June’s draft and the ability to draft one of two players considered to be in the upper tier of prospects, and still have all that cap space staring at them in the face waiting to be spent on July 1st.

It’s good to be a Lakers fan right now.

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I’m here to eat some crow. Yes, one of the Lakers’ toughest critics is here to admit it that I might have been too hard on the organization. This isn’t to say they never made mistakes, but for the most part, the Lakers’ offseason thus far is off to quite literally the best possible start.

The lesson: While it’s easy to see each mistake and show immediate concern in the moment, the bigger picture must remain in focus.

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…and I am not doing too well. Sure, I’ve tried to tell myself a few lies in the past few days. These lies were mostly told to try and make me feel less anxious or nervous. Now that the days has come, these lies have failed me. FAILED ME, I SAY.

Anyways, we’ve already discussed some of the consequences of today, so I won’t get into that much further. This pick is important and I would greatly prefer the Lakers keep it than lose it. Yes, there are a couple of silver linings should this pick fall outside the top-3 and go to Philly, but that’s like saying a silver lining to breaking your leg is that while you wear a cast one of your shoes doesn’t get any wear and tear on it.

So, let’s just stick to the numbers of the night and go from there…

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The Lakers are in that weird in-between time where they have a head coach, but since he’s still working for another team others have to speak for him. So, here’s Mitch Kupchak speaking on how Luke Walton’s past has informed his coaching perspective and the style he envisions the Lakers’ playing. There’s insight to be gained from those comments, but in reality, until we get those comments from the horse’s mouth with more detail in the plan to make those things happen, there’s really very little to learn there.

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On May 17th the NBA will hold their annual celebration of the losers…err their Draft Lottery. The Lakers (and their fans) understandably have a fair amount of angst around this event. With “only” a 55.8% chance of keeping their pick, the team can only sit and wait until their fate is announced on live television. I, for one, will have trouble watching.

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In the past week, names like Brian Shaw and Chris DeMarco have been floated as possible options as assistant coaches on Luke Walton’s staff. DeMarco is familiar with Walton due to ties with the Warriors where DeMarco is a player development coach after working in the video room and in advance scouting. Shaw, of course, has ties to Walton from their time with the Lakers where Shaw as an assistant while Luke a player on Phil Jackson’s teams.

Both guys fit the mold of the type of theoretical staff I would imagine Walton would build. They offer a mix of young and experienced, a guy who worked his way up through an organization and a former player who has championship experience on the floor and from the bench. Finding the right balance, I think, is vital for any staff, but especially for a coach like Walton who needs to surround himself with like minded guys, but also those with more experience with him who can offer a varied perspective and, at times, challenge him as he strives to improve as a first time head coach (and not just an interim one).

This is all speculation on my part, though. Luke Walton has not gone on the record of what he’s looking for in his staff and the names floated were, themselves, based on speculative reports from league and Warriors’ insiders. But while we don’t have insight from Luke, we do, luckily, have some from Mitch Kupchak who spoke with the media on Friday about Walton’s hiring. And in those comments, Kupchack hinted at the type of assistant Walton and the Lakers (who will have input on this) will be looking for.

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While the Lakers wait on their new head coach to finish his playoff run with his current team, there are many questions which still need answering. Will they keep their lottery pick? If they do, who will they draft? Will they even keep that player? What about the 32nd pick in the draft? What about free agency? And on and on we go. These questions are the symptoms of hope, something fans haven’t had much of while dealing with the dread of a 17 win season.

While the actions which come over the next few months will determine whether that hope is well founded, it’s the decision makers whose final calls on all the above which matter most. With that, it becomes quite important (and beneficial) to have insight into their thought process on where this team is, where it’s going, and how they plan to get it there. As it just so happens, then, we have lucked out. Jim Buss recently spoke with Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders and gave thoughts on the team’s young players, hiring Luke Walton, and more.

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Luke Walton’s hiring rightfully gives Lakers fans hope that the team is trying (at least now) to rebuild in the right ways. The move evidences a humility the team has not seen before — instead of hiring some insider that can restore the team to glory by reinforcing what the Lakers did in the good old days, Luke has been brought here largely to pass on wisdom gained from other spheres in the modern era (during which the Lakers have been a failure).

Yes, Luke has substantial experience within the organization, but that is not the only reason he has the job; he is the coach because of what he learned and experienced in Golden State’s first rate organization. To me, this admission that the Lakers have something to learn from the way others do things is a real turning point in their rebuild, as it suggests a willingness to embrace the revolution. And I do believe that Luke is probably the ideal candidate to bring us into the modern times, even if he (and the team) has much learning yet to do.

And there is a long, long ways to go. Trying to diagnose what went wrong with the Lakers this year is kind of like trying to pinpoint what went wrong when the economy crashed nearly a decade ago – there were too many terrifying problems to find just a single tipping point. The team was a spectacle of dysfunction and incompetence, and following it day in and day out was painful.

This piece will attempt to analyze one aspect of these struggles – the team’s offensive problems. Note the emphasis on team, as I will, largely, not look at the performance issues of individual players, and instead focus on team characteristics. For example, this analysis will look at things like what kinds of shots the team took, rather than Kobe’s TS%. This post will also not look at defense, which deserves a separate analysis, given the team’s last place finish in defensive efficiency.

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