When Jeanie Buss took a hammer to the team’s basketball operations staff by relieving Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak from their respective positions in favor of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, there was a lot of talk about guys like Ryan West and Jesse Buss and what role they would take under the new regime. As holdovers who had some name cachet and noted influence, specifically as it related to the draft, this made a lot of sense.

One holdover’s name which did not receive a lot of mention as the team transitioned to the Magic/Pelinka era, however, was Assistant GM Glenn Carraro. Well, maybe there was good reason for that. It seems Carraro is not in the team’s plans for the future.

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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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I wish I had something good to say about the Lakers’ game in San Antonio tonight. Really, I do. It’s just not the case, though. In fact, the only thing which even got me even slightly animated was the scheduling of this game at all:

Look, I get scheduling is hard. There are too many variables at play for everyone to be happy all the time. Arenas aren’t just used for basketball games, they’re used for NHL (whose season overlaps with the NBA’s), concerts, rodeos, circuses, awards shows, etc, etc.

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In the latest Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I discuss how far away the Lakers are from being a good team and what steps they should be taking this off-season to get them closer. Pete uses the “LakeShow” 1990’s Lakers teams as an analogue to this current team and whether some of the ideas Jerry West used to build that team should be used by Magic and Rob Pelinka today.

As part of this discussion of advancing the roster, we also dive deeper into the idea of trade targets — including a name outside of the usual suspected targets. Click through to give the entire post a listen.

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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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The Lakers played an interesting game against the Clippers on Saturday by faltering terribly early in giving up a 17-0 run to start the game, only to come back to lead briefly 32-31 and then only trail by 5 at the half. The 2nd half got away from them, but good performances from Brandon Ingram, David Nwaba, and Thomas Robinson offered some bright spots in an otherwise predictable game — at least from a results standpoint.

The Lakers now only have 6 games left in the season and with some winnable games left on the schedule, I’m sure there’s a growing group of fans who wouldn’t mind seeing the team continue to drop games to ensure the team stays “ahead” of the Suns in the race for the 2nd worst record in order to maximize their lottery chances. I’m still of the mind that the Lakers still need some good performances from their young players, for no other reason than to continue to add data to their off-season regiments on what works, what doesn’t, and how to best focus their individual training programs.

In today’s game against the Grizzlies, then, I’d like to see the team bounce back (at least somewhat *winks*) and find a better flow than they did against the Clips. Memphis has won two straight games after dropping four straight and now sit 7th in the West playoff race. If they stay in that spot, they’d face the Spurs, a matchup I’m not sure any Grizz fan really wants. If they were able to slide up to the 6th seed, a 1st round matchup against the Rockets would also be a major test and very likely end in a defeat, but that match up is a least somewhat more favorable with a more straight forward and executable game plan from night to night.

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It’s hard to believe there are only seven games left in the Lakers’ season, but here we are. Sitting at 21-54, the Lakers possess the 2nd worst record in the league (a half game “lead” over the Suns), which offers both a level in disappointment from a results standpoint and a hope the team will be able to retain its top-3 protected lottery pick come May.

I’d be lying if I said this all sits well with me. Before the season started I was of the mindset that this season would be the one where the Lakers finally stepped out of the shadows of “the tank”; a season where growth in the teams young players resulted in the types of on-court results which pushed the team’s (very likely) lottery pick out of reach. Of course, that hasn’t happened. There’s been growth with the players — if you cannot see that, it’s really your problem — but the wins have not followed.

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So, we just did this. In a weird scheduling anomaly, the Lakers play the T’Wolves again after just playing them a week ago. In an even weirder anomaly they will play them again next week, but whatever. So, if you’re wondering what I think about the Lakers playing the Wolves, you can read what I wrote on that day. Of course, it’s worth noting, the Lakers did end up winning that game — battling back in the 2nd half to force overtime and riding a career night from Jordan Clarkson.

So, maybe it’s worth remembering that game to give tonight’s contest more context – or maybe this game is on the road rather than at Staples and with it being another 1-game road trip and the start of 3 games in 4 days, combined with the Lakers’ general inconsistency, there’s nothing to take from a good game a week ago. Add in that Brandon Ingram is out for his 3rd straight game with knee tendonitis and who knows what to think?

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