In the game preview I mentioned my only wish for the Lakers’ preseason finale was that they leave the game as healthy as they entered it. Well, if only wishing made it so. In the 2nd quarter, Jordan Clarkson injured his right shoulder and did not return. And if that wasn’t bad enough, post game, the news isn’t so great either:
Jordan Clarkson (sprained shoulder) will get an MRI tomorrow. Byron says it may jeopardize his availability for Wednesday's season opener.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 23, 2015
Further reports from the post game locker room state Clarkson felt a sharp pain, though he thinks it’s “minor”. Either way, an MRI with the prospect of him not being available opening night is a tough pill to swallow on the final day of the exhibition season.
To add insult to injury, the Lakers got blown out of the water by the Warriors, losing 136-97. The 39 point margin fully reflected the difference in quality of the two teams, too. The Lakers were listless on both sides of the ball for major stretches, but were especially bad defensively. Considering I was hoping to see some of semblance of a defensive plan, the over helping/going under screens/digging in the post/dying on picks effort the team displayed was pretty disheartening. The Warriors got whatever they wanted all night on offense and made the Lakers pay to the tune of 54.% shooting from the floor including 16 of 31 from behind the arc.
Offensively the Lakers weren’t much better, making only 33 of their 80 shots (41.3%) and only 8 of their 24 three point attempts. While there were a few Lakers who played well individually, as a group they looked disorganized and uninspired for long stretches and had too many possessions that ended with one player looking to create a shot while the other four guys stood and watched. When you add in that it often took too long for the team to get into these sets, the aesthetics were even more poor.
So, overall, it was just a bad night. And that’s putting it mildly. Thank goodness this team gets almost a week off to try and sort some of these issues out and for Clarkson to heal up. Now, on to the notes…
*The difference between how the first and second units look offensively was pretty drastic. The first unit, with four players with either one or two years experience, looked lost and unsure of how to operate within the team’s offense. Meanwhile, the reserve group, with a bunch of experienced veterans (and yes, I’m counting Huertas here), moved with more purpose and understanding of how to attack the defense they were seeing. The difference in comfort level and effectiveness was like night and day.
*This is to be somewhat expected. The starters simply have so many young players still trying to figure out what they’re even good at, much less how to channel that into cohesive team play. And with so many players who like the ball in their hands, the offense can often get bogged down as a single player looks to create a shot for himself or a teammate, but does so off the dribble rather than with quick passes/reads based on what the defense is doing. Sorting this out will take time, but this is something we knew already. Watching it play out, however, doesn’t make the fact we knew it would take time any easier to deal with.
*Anthony Brown had his best game of the preseason by a mile. He hit his shots — 5 of 6 from the field, including 3-3 from behind the arc — to score 13 points, was active on defense (even though Harrison Barnes went off), and kept his head about him all game. He still made some mistakes, but his assertiveness on offense and lack of hesitation to let his shot go when given space was nice to see. The fact the shots went in was even nicer.
*Julius Randle had an okay night, but one marred with turnovers. While he didn’t shoot especially poorly (he made 4 of his 10 shots) and did okay on the glass (6 rebounds), he got caught shuffling his feet too much when trying to create off the dribble and had a few issues with a loose handle that cost him the ball. When I mentioned earlier the young players could do better to move the ball more quickly rather than hold it to create, Randle was definitely guilty of that in this game.
*D’Angelo Russell continues to play okay, but not with enough pace or urgency. It’s not that he’s not playing hard, he’s just not playing aggressively. The best way to describe it is that he’s playing a risk averse game — one much more reserved than what he was during the summer. His mistakes are down, but sometimes mistakes of aggression are more favorable than playing in a manner where omitting them leads to a lack of impact. Russell clearly has court vision, has a nice looking jumper, and can do more on the floor than he’s showing. But he seems so set on letting things come to him or only taking what the defense gives him that we’re not seeing all the ways he can impact the game.
*It’s also important to go back to what I wrote above about the young players and trying to figure out what they can and can’t do on the floor and trying to fit into what the coaches want. Russell is only 19 and is at the bottom of his development curve. Patience is key. But I’d be lying if I said I’m fully happy with his approach right now. In a way, I’d rather see more mistakes if it meant he was being more assertive and forcing the action a bit more. I’d bet I’m not alone thinking that way, too.
*Ryan Kelly had another good game and it’s to the point where I wonder how Byron is going to find time for all his front court players. Kelly shot well (4-6 from the field) and did alright on the boards (6 rebounds) in his 24 minutes. But he also played all his minutes next Brandon Bass in a “small” froncourt. Tarik Black and Robert Sacre both got DNP-CD’d against a dubs team who played without Bogut. I do not know what the trend will be during the regular season, but the Bass/Kelly lineup was porous defensively and didn’t offer any rim protection. I’d much rather have Black or Sacre behind Kelly simply because they offer more resistance at the rim than Bass, but also know neither offer as much offensively as the veteran forward. I don’t have any good answers here, but if Kelly keeps shooting the ball well, he’s going to deserve minutes.
is it byron or the lakers are just too raw?as the season nears i feel very upset and disturbed foremost the manner byron takes things personally example upshaw shocking exit secondly his mind boggling play plans
Good write up Darius. I swear reading your write ups and tweets gives me my Laker fix on the east coast! Agree with you on Dloading. He just seems too cautious. It’s like he’s all in his head. He thinks too much and that is what is holding him back. He needs to just play. In the mist of the blowout he started playing a little better, like there was no pressure. It’s going to be a long season, but I can handle it better if we fight. Also why no Nance Jr tonight?
The Lakers just showed that they will once again be bottom 5 in defensive rankings. That was some horrid defense that I just witnessed. Lakers still think they don’t need Upshaw?
Byron Scott’s typical approach to young players and his negative reinforcement and name calling strategies are a key reason I’m particularly frustrated he is still our Coach. He’s not a developmental coach, I would say he’s just not a good Coach period, nor does he run good systems. But at this point, developing Russel/Randle are the key, and the only thing really to look forward to this season, beyond watching Kobe make some sweet Kobe-esque moves for the final time.
As pointed out in the article, someone like Russels needs to feel he has the keys to the kingdom and needs to be aggressive with his passing/pace. Also he needs to find out how much of an offensive threat he is at the NBA level as a scorer as well, not just a set-up guy. I would bet that Coach Scott is at least partially to blame for Russels hesistancy, Scott likes more methodical play up and down the court. He has shown over the years that he isn’t a fan of pace or fast moving offenses. Thus last year he clearly didn’t like Lin’s play, since he is a push the ball down the court type of PG. But give him an old school walk the ball up the court guy–and boom Byron loves him. Scott’s offense sucked at Cleveland as well, even with some amazing offensive talents–and the players new it as well and their frustrations leaked out into the media. But of course that just meant they weren’t “manly enough, or “tough” enough.
Perhaps after the Lakers eventually have a horrible record and are out of playoff contention officially, then Scott will pull back and let Russel/Randle make mistakes and play with a lot of aggression to try and learn what they can do and what they need to still work on. Defensively even with Hibbert and the Bass pick ups we are going to be a top 5 worst defensive team this season, so plan on watching the Lakers give up huge amount of points, they may even be worse overall defensively than last season–due to their sheer lack of experience at so many positions–even though talent wise they aren’t worse.
I agree on Russell. The few times he attacked Curry he got looks. But he doesn’t stay in that mode. The thing that made Steve Nash great was that he was always attacking…even if the idea was to setup a teammate. This is something I hope Kobe gets D’Angelo to learn…keep attacking because the defense will still have to account for you and that opens things up for others.
– Six days to meaningful Laker B-ball. Bring it on.
If i see one more why did we cut upshaw comment i am going to vomit
I just hope the throwing russell to the wolves strategy doesn’t backfire and kill his spirit, what i am saying is last night was a taste of the season, a rookie against last years mvp, we have plenty of guards with experience, this is l.a. the expectation level is so high, the fans are so impatient, can russell handle it, and just wait till kobe’s patience wears out, i hope the coaching staff realizes how important it is to groom this young guy in, or at least communicate with him to see what he can handle.
I did not support the Byron hire for exactly the reason you cite — developing young players — and it seems worse than I even thought it would be.
But, as Robert points out, Byron did not hire himself and his flaws, to include this one, were known.
I am hoping that the young players make it through the fire with Scott and come out stronger as Clarkson seems to have done.
But, as Robert points out, Byron did not hire himself and his flaws, to include this one, were known.
I have pointed this out as well of course. Scott had coached 13 years for three different franchises when the FO pulled the trigger on the hire and was interviewed multiple times. Is it repetitive to say it again? Sure, but no more so than the anti-Byron memes are.
I would also point out that last year’s team had three young guys that people were looking at–Randle, Clarkson, and Kelly. Randle broke his leg in his first game, which is not about Byron unless you blame the practices. Clarkson exceeded almost everyone’s expectations and gave Byron some credit for his season (although I have seen people claim that the FO ordered Byron to play Clarkson and that therefore Scott should get no credit). Byron did mishandle Kelly, and the criticism there was legit and on point.
Looking at preseason this year, what do we see?
Clarkson and Randle have looked pretty good.
Kelly is playing the 4 now and has looked pretty good.
A. Brown and Nance Jr. have both had their moments and have looked OK.
Russell has struggled some, but he is 19 years old, this is still preseason, he is not an overpowering athlete, and many say that PG is the toughest position for a rookie. He looks bad against the NBA champs in a game that GS actually wanted to win…and we get another post about how Scott is lame, can’t handle young guys, etc.
I don’t think that Scott is an especially good coach, but I don’t see much evidence that he is hurting the Lakers’ young guys at this point.
J C says
Not a Byron fan at all but I’m not sure last night was his fault.
Considering we just “beat” this team the other night, I think the Warriors brought their A game.
Curry and Thompson were unconscious. Even Barnes. It just seemed like the Lakers were a step behind the Warriors all night and never caught up.
I really like Huertas. He makes the most out of his talent. Maybe he could work on his shooting a little bit. Or a lot.
Randle regressed in this game. Normal I suppose for a young player. Traveling and mishandling the ball repeatedly. Ugly to watch, to be honest, with the exception of his sweet up and under move in the first quarter.
We could have used Metta in this game considering our defense was so poor. Why didn’t he play? I hope his DNP doesn’t mean he’s on his way out.
My defense-tinted glasses made my eyes burn as soon as Kelly’s scrunchies made it on camera. I saw him continually getting manhandled out of rebounding position, taken off the dribble, floating in space, picking his own man and being too slow to play even acceptable positional defense – box or perimeter. The defensive system might have a part to play but could it be the main source of the pain?
On offense, since he was drafted for the 3pt stroke, he’s still a 13-15th man and not worth worrying about squeezing into a rotation. That layup that he choked against a smaller defender made him look like he was recovering from hip replacement surgery. The bulk of his 4 for 6 looked cheap to me as he can’t make his own shot and only the dunks came through with a modicum of heat. (Honestly, I can’t support my statements about offense well with this game because memory more or less faded with the final buzzer.)
Should coaching continue to disagree with me, Bass seems to be their 1st choice for small ball C. Unless Randle craters, Bass will mainly play the 4 with Sacre/Black at the 5. Black or Metta would be their only present roster choices to bump Bass out of small C and you don’t do that to accommodate the Ryan Kelly Experience. Maybe they could experiment with a thoroughbred lineup that would have Nance and Kelly as dual 4s under certain match ups.
Maybe I’m missing something because Kelly has attained my whipping boy status. For me it seems like he is only a couple of inches away from his very low ceiling and isn’t worth anymore investment. Now I punish myself for writing 4 paragraphs about my disdain for Ryan Kelly’s game and choice of hair care products. I just really resent my favorite sport being subverted by homages to Marlo Thomas.
Metta played in something like the last 5 minutes of the game. His play matched the garbage time aside for a couple of plays.
I like Huertas also but GS had his number this game. They were on his passes and shots before he knew what he was doing.
pat oslon says
It’s going to be a long, hard season. Hibbert is our only true defender, everyone else looked lost last night. Unfortunately this team will struggle on both ends of the court. With all these young guys and vets that haven’t played together, patience is the key; especially with Russell. I hope Kobe’s return along with Clarkson makes things more bearable. Ryan Kelly has shown some improvement and should get minutes.
I think this was a blessing in disguise. No coach could forge a cohesive defensive unit out of what is essentially a brand new team. The Warrior core has been developing for multiple seasons into what they are now. The Warriors are an elite defensive/offensive machine with excellent team chemistry. And they make many experienced teams with better records look bad on a regular basis. They came to play with regular season intensity. It was a good wake up call for the Laker players and show them how much work lays ahead of them. This game will provide a master class for the players in what not to do against elite offenses and the essential nature of ball movement. This was the perfect way to end the season for a team beginning the learning curve. The Warriors are what the Lakers want to be.
Snarky George says
Byron will be here as long as Kobe is.
The Lakers have not played a true road game this pre-season. Yet another fact to add to what looks like a long learning curve for the kids.
Lakers got a window dressing from the Champs, worst of it, it was the Lakers former players who designed the plays and arranged a bunch of young players into shooting prowess. Blame it to Byron, blame it to newbies, blame to lack of d and chemistry, we’re back to square one. Got to admit, there are teams we could not beat and Warriors are no Blazers, that is just the reality.
I don’t see Russell being forced to be the PG starter role, if the Lakers objective is to win games. He is too raw and need more exposure before handing him the baton to prove a theory. Randle is OK, but need a little self control and go with the play than going on iso and forcing himself under the basket.
As soon as Jim Buss has spoken, there goes another injury, is it coincidence or “karma”? I don’t know. This phenomenon just keeps on repeating itself and started with Howard and Nash.
Matt I don’t see how Russell is being thrown to the Wolves. That’s opening night. Heh, small joke. Seriously, though he’s in the big time now and will have to figure it out by playing against the best. His other option would have been to stay in College another year. But he declared and got picked #2. Done deal – let’s see what he’s got.
I’m with you btw re: Upshaw. Who??
I’m in agreement that the warriors of all teams, gave the Lakers young core a precious gift last night.
The sweat and determination they poured out, will water the seeds of their own demise a few years down the line.
Humiliation and harsh beat downs, are the most powerful motivators for a rookie, as dreams of championships are but a fat distant hope.
I wondered at times last night, if the NBA set up this match twice in pre-season for the purpose of creating a rivalry.
No matter if it were fate or manipulation, the outcome will be the same.
Our Lakers trio, more dynamic than the warriors, will one day reclaim the west, then hopefully the nation.
Clay Bertrand says
Welp, I guess Byron Scott will NOT be the next Team USA coach. Soooo we’re all good.
I love the lakers and want them to win every game, but here’s how i see they match up with the rest of the league
Teams lakers can’t beat
Spurs, clippers, grizzlies, rockets, Thunder, warriors
Teams the lakers might beat
Pelicans, kings, suns, mavericks, twolves
Teams the lakers should beat
Jazz, trailblazers, nuggets
Teams the lakers can’t beat
Cavaliers, heat, bulls, hawks
Teams the lakers might beat
Raptors, wizards, pacers, bucks, hornets
Teams the lakers should beat
Celtics, magic, nets, knicks, pistons, 76ers
The season has not started yet so whatever
Great List matt, mostly the season summary for Lakers maybe with a few exceptions here and there.
Parrothead Phil says
Following Matt’s summary I count a ceiling of 37 wins. I would be very happy with that number.
After last night, I realized it’s going to be a loooong season. Outclassed.