The Lakers Preseason Offense Is Getting out in Transition at a Historic Rate
Through the first three games of preseason, LA has 26.5% of its possessions coming from transition. 13.9% was the NBA average the last three regular seasons. As I spoke about before, we can typically expect that percentage to drop 1.28% once we hit the regular season.
If that drop happens, the Lakers will still have more than a 5% edge on the next closest team in NBA history going back until the beginning of Synergy’s databases (05-06).
We’ve never seen a team play this fast, and if the Lakers can keep it up they’ll be a very entertaining team to watch and should get some easy shots from those great transition opportunities.
The Lakers’ Half Court Offense Has Been More Efficient Than Their Transition Offense
While the team has gotten out in transition a lot, they’re been a flaming heap of garbage when they’ve gotten those chances. Los Angeles’ transition efficiency in Summer League was third best, but they’re far worse so far in preseason.
Scoring 0.888 points per possession is bad in general. Doing so in transition is otherworldly inefficiency. Thankfully we’re only three games into the preseason, but that number will need to bump about two tenths to be a respectable transition attack. For reference, last season’s last place transition offense, Philadelphia, scored 1.009 points per possession.
The transition problems aren’t with turnovers, which would have been my guess. The team just isn’t hitting shots. KCP is 3/13, Ingram is 1/5, and the team overall is shooting 45.5% in transition. We want that number about 6-10% higher.
Half Court Hopes
On the other side of things, the Lakers preseason half court offense has been the ninth most efficient of all teams in preseason. Their points per possession figure is low, and the execution within their half court offense can improve, but from a scheme perspective I like what I’ve seen. I have hope this season for the Lakers to be running an average to above average offense.
It’s irrational to look at a team three games into preseason and think that’s the finished product, but I’m pleased with where we are at this very early point in the year.
LA Is Winning Special Teams
Last season and this preseason have been night and day for the Lakers when looking at special situations. Those special situations include baseline out of bounds plays (BLOB), sideline out of bounds plays (SLOB), and set plays immediately after a timeout call (ATO).
|2016-17 Season Rank||2017-18 Preseason Rank|
Last year the Lakers were very bad offensively in these special situations. The team wasn’t great defensively but also had much room for improvement.
This preseason has been a different story. Again, small sample. But the film on the plays being run matches up with the execution data so far, so the sample doesn’t discredit this takeaway as much as it otherwise would.
New Year, New Offense
Using Synergy’s play types, which I explain here, we can gain perspective on how the Lakers preseason offense looks as a whole.
The Los Angeles offense in 2016-17 was about average in terms of style. The team isolated more than most and had possessions from the pick and roll ball handler a lot more, but the rest was about average compared to the rest of the league.
This season we’ve seen a different offense. Isolation possessions have almost halved. Those are generally worse shots, so I’m happy to see that number go down.
Pick and roll ball handler shots, among the least efficient of all of the actions, have drastically decreased. Handoffs have seen a smaller decrease, but a decrease nonetheless. The team is still running a fair amount of pick and roll and handoff plays, but are able to more effectively compromise the defense and get the ball to spot up shooters and roll men.
Last season, 61.0% of pick and roll plays resulted in a possession to the ball handler. This preseason that number has fallen to 47.7%, meaning that those higher quality roll man shots and kickouts to spot up shooters are seeing more volume. This is a huge change from last season, and a very positive one that should help the team’s efficiency this season.
As covered earlier, we’ve also seen a massive raise in transition frequency. As the team’s efficiency on those possessions undoubtedly regresses positively, that impact of that frequency increase will be felt on the scoreboard much more than it has so far.
Kyle Kuzma, Good at Basketball
Of the 33 NBA players who have had high volume in preseason, meaning at least 15 offensive possessions per game, Kyle Kuzma leads the pack. Here is the top of the leaderboard:
- Kyle Kuzma
- Carmelo Anthony
- Damian Lilard
- Brooklyn Nets starting Point Guard
- Devin Booker
- Mario Chalmers
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Myles Turner
That’s some good company for Kuzma.
Kuz scored 1.250 points per shot on 64 half court jump shots between Summer League and Preseason. Kuzma took 108 jump shots his senior year at Utah and scored 0.861 points per shot on those attempts.
Kuzma can score 14 points (0.318 PPS) on his next 44 jump shots and be shooting more efficiently than he did at Utah. That’s an insane jump in efficiency.
Oh, and he’s shooting 35.7% from 3-point land during preseason. Should we have seen this coming?
Kuzma shot 32%, 26%, and 32% from deep in his three years in college. But perhaps there’s something about his shot that just tends for it to be a little strong for the mere college 3-point line. It wasn’t on a huge sample, but I’ll leave you with this:
I was wrong w/Kuz, & never thought to look at this, but:
Kyle Kuzma Utah 3pt %s
NBA distance 3s: 41%
College 3 (w/o NBA distance 3s): 29%
— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) July 20, 2017