Archives For Laker Analysis

To many of their fans’ dismay, the Lakers have won 3 straight games. The most recent came on Friday night, pulling out a close game on the stellar play of Julius Randle and key shot making by D’Angelo Russell. Randle’s 25 points paced the team and while his 6 rebounds were below his regular output, 5 of those came on the offensive glass where he created second chance points which were key to the win.

As for Russell, he only shot 4-10 from the field for his 14 points, but he hit both of his 4th quarter shots and scored 7 points in the final period. Both shots were big ones, the first a three pointer with the team trailing by 1 with under three minutes to go. In a back and forth affair that was ready to be taken by whichever team clamped down or hit the key shots, Russell’s 3 was a key basket.

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So, the Lakers won again. They beat the Spurs. On the road. On another one of those 1-game road trips to the mid-west that we all love. Hooray! Hooray? Ugh.

This is the collective response across the internet this morning, with more and more Lakers’ fans moving past the conflicted about wins stage to the why the hell are you winning games stage completely. You’ll also very easily find people taking glee in the Lakers’ misfortunes by actually winning games — and not just Suns fans.

Anyway, I’m not here to tell you how to feel. You’re mad? I get it. You’re mad online? Okay, I’d advise against that, but to each their own.

Again, I do understand why fans are upset. I don’t need to spell it out completely, but losing close to 60 games and then losing your (high) draft pick is bad. Losing that draft pick and having that trigger losing your pick two years later is pouring salt on the wound and then rinsing it off with some hydrogen peroxide. This is the situation the Lakers face with their 2017 and 2019 picks. None of that is lost on me.

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If you’re not reading Nylon Calculus, you’re making a mistake. The site consistently provides high level analysis which bridges ideas between analytics and what we’re seeing with our eyes to offer insight to us fans. Today they posted a great graphical look at the “style” NBA offenses exhibit that is worth your time. Seriously, go read it. We’ll be here when you get back.

Okay, now that you’re back, I’ll let Ian Levy explain the approach he took for determining each trait which made up the graph:

Ball movement is measured with the average touch time for each team, from the NBA’s player tracking statistics. A lower average touch time means the ball is moving from player to player more quickly.

Player movement is measured with a combination different NBA.com tracking statistics, and works out to average distance traveled per 24 seconds of offensive possession.

Pace is measured with the average length of an offensive possession from Inpredictable, a more accurate representation for how quickly a team is working than traditional pace.

Shot selection continues to be the trickiest measure. In the past I had used Seth Partnow’s XeFG% which estimates what a team’s effective field goal percentage should be given the location of their shots, the mix of catch-and-shoot and pull-ups, and how close the nearest defender was. However, those stats were built on the player tracking shot logs which stopped being publicly available on Jan. 25 of last season. This year I went with a more simplistic measure and used MoreyBall percentage — in this case the percentage of a team’s true shooting opportunities that came at the rim, from the free throw line, or on a 3-pointer. It’s a generalized measure but captures something about how much each team hews to the shots that are, on average, the most efficient.

All pretty straight forward, right? Good. Now see below for the Lakers distribution in graphical form:

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Keith Parish of the Fastbreak Breakfast Podcast invited me on to discuss the future of the Lakers and I happily obliged. We talked some of the young players, why I remain high on Brandon Ingram’s future, whether I would trade the Lakers’ lottery pick (if they keep it), and even what type of role I envision for Luol Deng and Timo Mozgov next season.

This was a fun conversation and I appreciate Keith having me on. Click through to listen to the entire pod:

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In our latest episode of the Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I discuss D’Angelo Russell’s wild week which started with him playing poorly, then moved to the bench, then culminated with his return to the first five and a career high 40 point night.

We also touched on Luke Walton’s schemes, Brandon Ingram’s good month of March, and more. Click through to listen to the entire discussion.

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D’Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Cavs and he brought an offensive explosion with him. Russell shot the lights out, scoring a career high 40 points while dueling with Kyrie Irving the entire night. It was quite the sight to watch Russell score almost at will and from all three levels of the floor:

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There are usually very few positive takeaways from the type of 39 point loss the Lakers had to the Rockets on Wednesday night. After the Lakers trailed big early and found themselves down 18 points heading into the 4th quarter, the Rockets poured it on, nailing 8 of their 13 shots from behind the arc and scoring 46 points in the process. That offensive explosion led to frustration and anger from players and head coach Luke Walton following the defeat. More than one person implied the team just sort of quit.

While that macro view is more than justified, there were some positives in the micro. One, in particular, was the play of Julius Randle who scored a career high 32 points while grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out two assists. It was a well rounded night by Randle, who was able to bully his way to the rim and finish through contact and over length — especially when playing C and in match ups against Clint Capela.

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I’ve long expressed my belief in Julius Randle as a talent. Players — especially PF’s — just don’t often combine his combination of size, strength, and quickness. He’s not a super leaper, but he’s got enough pep — especially as a one footed jumper — to finish above the rim and through contact. Add to this his ability to handle the ball (even if he can be loose with the ball) and that he can be a plus passer, and he has some unique tools with which to build a contributing player.

With that type of uniqueness, however, comes the lack of a template with which to model and offer a path to being the player he could become. I mean, I see shades of Lamar Odom, but Randle has much more of an assertive attitude than Odom and less an outward desire to simply fall into whatever role is slotted for him or to do what is needed rather than what he himself wants to do in order to be a success within the team concept. His physical profile can remind of a LeBron James type, but Randle lacks the shooting confidence, the next level feel and passing ability, and the inherent defensive IQ which LeBron harnessed very early in his career.

So what is Randle and what can he be? A real answer to that question that also I feel confident in escapes me. And maybe it always will.

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