In recent interviews Byron Scott has taken a more optimistic approach for where his team is. For example, he had this to say about the team’s defense (per the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan):
“I know a lot of people aren’t happy with our record and where we are,” Scott acknowledged. “But I’m happy with the progress that we’re making, especially at that [defensive] end of the floor. That was the main objective coming into this season, to form an identity on that defensive end and let everything else kind of take care of itself.”
Scott’s softer public stance is needed when the team is doing so poorly. We also should not dismiss entirely what he’s saying — the Lakers have been a bit better defensively recently — so it is worth him saying this publicly, not just to give his guys some public praise, but to speak to what is going on. Before the Lakers went on their 5 game road trip, their defensive efficiency was 113.0. Heading into tonight’s game, that number has fallen to 106.4. Lopping off nearly 7 points per 100 possessions defensively is improvement.
In saying that, however, the Lakers still rank as one of the worst defensive teams in the league. They’re also fairing poorly on offense and have one of the worst efficiency differentials in the league.
Lakers are still 28th in DEff & have fallen to 27th in OEff. 4th worst efficiency differential at -9.5. Yikes. Playing at 7th fastest pace.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) November 15, 2015
This is the reality of where this team is right now. So, while I am happy Scott is not using this opportunity to bury his team, it is also important to put the growth he discusses in the proper context. They have simply gone from historically bad on defense to really bad compared to the rest of the league.
The dip in offensive efficiency is also concerning. After getting some viable bench play early in the season, that production has taken a big hit in recent games. After the loss to the Mavs I noted the poor stretch of play the bench provided. While that group has not reached quite those lows in every game, they have hit rough patches in nearly every game in the past week and that is dragging down the team even when the starting group plays well.
What all this means for Sunday’s game against the Pistons will be two-fold. First, the Pistons do not offer a strong group of bench players and they also fall off production wise when certain players — namely Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond — go to the bench. If the Lakers’ bench can find their stride against a Detroit unit who has also had their struggles, the game could follow a pattern which favors the Lakers.
However, and second, the Pistons 1st unit is strong enough where the Lakers may be playing catch up from the outset. The Pistons starters — Jackson, Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, and Erson Ilyasova — have played a league high 169 minutes together as a unit. That group has a +8.9 efficiency rating boasting an offensive efficiency of 104.3 and a defensive efficiency of 95.4. Of the top 10 units in minutes played together, this differential ranks 4th. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ starting group has played 109 minutes together (10th most in the league) and have a -13.4 efficiency differential — last among the top 10 units in minutes played.
So, the biggest key to this game will likely be whether or not the Lakers starters can keep the game close enough so that the team’s respective benches performance actually matter. With the Lakers at home, the hope would be their bench players would get some of the bounce which comes from the familiarity of playing in their own building.
Also key will be how well the Lakers manage their defensive backboards — especially when Drummond is in the game. Drummond has an offensive rebound percentage of 18.5 — meaning he grabs nearly one of every five misses when he is on the floor. A lot of these O-rebounds come when the Pistons run P&R and Jackson gets into the lane or when other Pistons create shots off dribble penetration. Considering the Lakers do not defend well on the perimeter, have trouble defending the P&R, and are not a very strong defensive rebounding team, this spells real trouble. The Lakers will need to clean this up or they will get hammered on the backboards.
Lastly, the first game at home after a long road trip can often result in a lackadaisical and sloppy effort. The Lakers were just in Dallas on Friday and now play in Los Angeles tonight and then in Phoenix tomorrow before getting a nice break until Friday at home against the Raptors. If they get caught looking ahead or if they feel the result of all that travel on Sunday, you will be able to tell early via mental mistakes and generally mistake laden play.
Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.
The Popcorn Machine says
The Lakers should win this game. Still enjoying rooting for The Lakers as I have for 40 years. The bad results are bad for Kobe who I love but it’s going to force a coaching change and maybe more so it’s going to get more exciting.
I think that sat is wrong. According to Team Rankings the Lakers are 24th in Defensive Efficiency with a 1.040 points per opponents’ possession. Not great but a huge improvement from the first four games. In fact, the Lakers have been quite respectable (against less than stellar opposition) since Meta and Nance join the rotation. Espn has them at 28th but they are obviously using opponents points per game which is a different metric then what most people expect as defensive efficiency.
Clay Bertrand says
Kobe was a great player…..One of the greatest. He is not currently a great player. He is arguably not even a good player at this point. There is nothing disrespectful or player hatish about stating facts.
While he may also be a much better teammate than his reputation would have you believe, (especially in his later years) as a legend and a domineering offensive player who ADMITS that he’s gonna shoot the ball—he, STILL IN HIS 20th YEAR, casts a giant shadow when he’s on the court.
The young guys may not say so (publicly) and the stats may not even back it up. But IMO they look a lot more assertive to a man when Kobe is NOT playing as opposed to when he IS playing. They also look like they are JUST BARELY starting to let their own styles take over the game more when they don’t have Kobe on the floor. I’m not speaking to wins and losses AT ALL (or should I say WIN and Losses…).
It’s like the scene in Risky Business when Joel (Tom Cruise) gets to set the stereo EQ wherever HE WANTS because his parents are out of town (and then he does his underwear dance…). You can just see the players developing THEIR OWN identity with no Kobe there to take shots and have to be covered for on D. They get to be themselves and do it THEIR WAY. It also allows for Byron to just TRY to coach without having to use the KOBE DOUBLE STANDARD where he plays NO D but we all have to PRETEND that he does and takes bad shots that Byron has to pretend are good ones.
I know it’s his last year and he’s going to play, it’s the farewell, it’s for the fans too—I get all that. I know that he’s a HOFer. I know that he brought us much past glory.
I also know that the kids are forced to find their own way when he isn’t on the floor and watching them begin to do that is awesome. They don’t HAVE to have Kobe to learn the game. The other lottery picks in the league are doing just fine without a legendary “mentor” like Kobe. KG isn’t taking minutes from Towns or Bjelica. Here, Kobe is still trying to exert HIS GAME on the court which is crowding out the kids to a degree. Kobe is supposed to be passing the torch but his instinct is to KEEP GRIPPING IT TIGHTLY.
I’ve seen Kobe for 20 years. I’ve seen him be dominant, ruthless and great. I don’t NEED to see him be completely crappy for 60 more games to savor and appreciate his career.
The BEST Laker games IMO are those when Kobe sits out because we get to see what we really have with our young guys without older brother around to take all their shots.
Go LAKERS….for the Kobe Worshippers are already at my door screaming, “BLASPHEMY!!!!!”
Serious question: if lakers lose tonight and tomorrow making record 1-10 and with no games until Friday, will Scott get the ax? I’m sure most Laker fans thought we’d be close to .500 vs this soft opening schedule. Only issue is who would become the interim coach since we really don’t have anyone qualified on staff to take over.
Great posts in the last thread by Todd, Robert, and rr in no particular order.
Amazing how many people underestimate the amount of stamina it takes to play defense. It’s challenging from a physical standpoint. The Lakers lineup is not conducive to playing defense and then transitioning to opposite end of the floor to score this early in the season. A team requires time together on both ends of the floor to understand the nuances of the opponent and their team members. If the Lakers numbers two and seven draft picks are truly deserving of those slots, they will start to comprehend how to win in the NBA right around the 25th of December. That doesn’t mean they’ll turn into a playoff team, only that the games will look like an NBA team with some consistency from all the players. That’s when everyone will realize the benefits of Byron Scott’s two a day workouts at the start of the season and limited minutes for the first and second-year players. Remember the Lakers hired an analytics department to reduce injuries and overuse of players that are not used to the rigors of 82 games against the best athletes in the world.
Still rooting for BS to succeed, havent lost my faith in him. And he is right, we are indeed making some improvements on D
Having said that, i expect a blowout loss tonight. Pistons simply have more talent, drummond is playing like crazy. Randle wont be able to drive, so we need to make perimeter shots. But we are struggling with those all season
Darius Soriano says
I got the stats from the NBA stats site, so those are official.
Kobe Alert: Taken a couple of games off from the Kobe Alert to give BCS, Gene, and Clay a break. Since the last alert, Kobe has moved by Sam Perkins and tied Derek Fisher for 17 on the all time games list. He is now 10 games within Mark Jackson for 16th (an interesting trio of players there). He is closing in on Gary Peyton for 9th on the minutes list and needs just 136 to catch him. KB also moved by Scottie Pippen for 28th on the dimes list and is now pursuing the Logo for 27th (needs 97 more). Catching Jerry would also make Kobes #2 on the Laker list. Don’t forget to vote for Kobes for the All Star game !!
Note for Clay: I saw you said that the “PARTY” was over. If it is over, then I must have missed it. I thought we went 0-2 when KB was out. If that is a “PARTY” then I guess this whole season has been a complete blast. Rather than pick on Kobes in terms on stifling the youngsters, you should focus on our major FA pick up in the form of Lou. Thanksgiving is coming up and Kobe has been at the head of our table for a long time – Lou was the uninvited guest.
Robert is right. If I had to choose who would sit, I would choose Lou Williams 100% of the time. I would rather watch Kobe play his last year than watch Lou play. I hope rr is right that Lakers got Lou to trade him for picks otherwise one more argument against the FO.
Chearn: Thanks. We have to savior #24 while we have him.
Clay: Before you respond, don’t forget – I was against the extension and discussed parting ways with Kobes way back in 2012.
Lakafan: Serious answer: There is no good reason to let go of Byron unless we have a “permanent” replacement. Getting rid of him now would provide chaos. Imagine the Russell apologists talking about three coaches in 3 years for DAR? That said, from a political standpoint, making Byron the fall guy makes too much sense for much of the fan base. Jim can deflect the attention off him for a bit and then perhaps buy himself some more time as they fumble around with the interim and then the permanent. Like I said – chaos.
I’m in agreement with you Clay.
It really comes down to sacreficing a year of our rebuild at the altar of Bryant.
I have been bloodied, fighting on the side of Kobe through many battles against Shaq, the media, the law and the millions of rabid Kobe haters, but I don’t see the logic of struggling to hold open a heavy door, which should have closed two seasons ago.
Especially not when it prolongs our suffering, while possibly damaging the habits, drive and timing of our kids melding together.
the other Stephen says
Drummond could grab ALL the rebounds tonight.
Larry Nance Jr throwing it down like his father. Slam Dunk.
Chris J says
Watch how often Russell’s man gets by him and shoots with DAR on his back. That’s very troublesome, that he is getting beat off the dribble so often, by numerous players. Hopefully due to bad technique and not something else that can’t be overcome with — ahem, Byron — actual coaching.
Strange line up at the moment: Bass, Peace, Nance, Williams, Young… now Bryant for Peace.
Im not watching the game im following the play by play, is Kobe just a rebound away from a triple double? And were is DAR?Why he is not playing?
minor gripes: KB played 36+ minutes. Efficiency aside, I just don’t think the team will really develop when your coach doesn’t have the guts to stick to a minute cap.
Kobe’s near triple double 17 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds lead Lakers to a win as neither team could throw a pea in the ocean. D’Angelo Russell sits entire 4th quarter.
Progress. Go Lakers!
nik kannan says
good W.. the pistons are good in the east.. but another DNP in the 4th for D. RUSS #1 for no reason… seems the coach is using an out come, that has not been typical this season to justify benching the rookie in the 4th… what is the deal???
In post-game Byron said that Kobe isn’t playing tomorrow so he decided to keep him in. DLo will probably get more run tomorrow.
Russell is getting benched because he is lazy on defense. Bad technique is one thing, effort is quite another.
If he was getting done in by moves….it’s understandable…but getting beat on straighthe line drives and dying on picks is pure laziness from a young player.
Is there such a thing as a bothersome win? Im really glad the team won, I didn’t watch the game i followed the play by play but like i been saying the team is stabilizing in D. This is the 3rd straight team they keep under 40% from the field, I thought at first it was the other teams having a bad night but it’s becoming a pattern, another baby step in the right direction for the mist part. Now on the bothersome part, why in God’s green Earth DAR got the benching treatment again, that’s inexcusable, there is something that i realized and people needs to take in consideration too. DAR stats are with less that 25 mpg, and his field goal % has risen up to 40%, the darling boy of some people here Mudiay is shotting a puke inducing 31% from the field, BUT, he hes playing 31 mpg. If DAR was getting those kind of minutes not that it’s completely necessary that he get that kind of burn at this stage, he could he averaging 12ppg and probably 4 to 5 assists easy without taking the ton of shots Mudiay needs to get his. It really bothers me that Byron didn’t play him in the 4th when we took the lead, so he could experience running a team with a lead for a change as part of his learning process, it bothers me a lot. It’s kind of a black cloud on an otherwise pretty good win…
Darius Soriano says
I totally disagree. Clarkson dies on picks too — more than Russell, actually. He’s also surrendering straight line drives as often as Russell. Russell’s length actually allows him to still challenge shots defensively. Russell is sitting for whatever guard is hottest on offense. If it’s Russell who’s hot or if every other guard is playing poorly, Russell will probably play. Today, Lou was cold but Young was playing well so Young played. It’s really that simple. The question is whether that’s the right strategy.
Good win! More of the Lakers are making an effort on defense, in particular, Nick and Randle.
Kobe dialed it back a few years for some timely defensive pressure, and almost messed around and had a triple double. I have to say, today was a good day.
Larry Nance (I’ll drop the junior because your father’s not in the league), is easily becoming my favorite draft choice in a decade. He’s even utilizing some of Meta’s techniques on defense.
Clarkson and Russell tend to play defense on the side of an offensive player rather than staying in front of him both act as though they’ve never seen a defensive slide drill. It seems as though both of them have decided to concentrate on offense this year.
I’m overjoyed that Scott played Clarkson at pg over Lou during the 4th quarter. Jordan’s development as a combo guard is crucial to the Lakers long-term strategy. Also, his play and progress should motivate D’Angelo to put in work this offseason.
Why isn’t more being said about kobe’s 36 min. kobe said his legs and back are killing him. So what he isn’t playing next game, didn’t scott say his minutes would be around 23 no matter the circumstances of the game. Dar looks like an ordinary player, how in the world did he get to be a no. 2 pick
nik kannan says
Neither Clarkson nor Russel are very good on defense, yet.
Russel does get lost when guarding off the ball & isn’t where he needs to be for rotations on help D.. this is to be expected as the college game allows for defenders to take an area of the floor on defense & pg find themselves rarely in positions along the baseline or under the basket in the paint to rotate.. he CAN be a good defender, I do not anticipate him being an elite defender, he is doing okay getting through screens on the pick & roll – he will learn to not go over the screens against players like Rondo & to never go under the screen against curry or Lillard..
Clarkson also has a long way to go on the defensive end.. he has similar issues especially keeping guards in front him, stopping the ball on transition & help D..
Seriously though – I know kobe has been 1st team NBA defense many times… but he was a great on ball defender .. he always gambled too much … was reluctant to help teammates off the ball & reached more than he should off… he isn’t the best teacher on the defensive end…
Artest on the other hand is someone our young guys should learn from… he was always crafty tenacious & dedicated on the defensive end… what he lacked in ath. he made up for with angles & smarts… I like that julius really looks up to Metta.