The Lakers lost Sunday, but it was an entertaining game and we saw an impassioned comeback from LA. Here’s how the data says the team performed:
The Laker Offense
We’ve had -25.7, +9.0, and now -2.6 point performances from LA relative to the expectation (what an average team would’ve scored had they taken the same shots).
Half Court Woes
This overall number split between transition and half court scoring is something I’ll monitor. Right now the data is all over, but over time I expect above average performance in transition and below average (although hopefully steadily improving) half court offense.
|Game 1 vs LAC||Game 2 vs PHO||Game 3 vs NOP||Average|
|Half Court POE||-13.7||+4.9||-7.3||-5.4|
Two positive transition games in a row is encouraging, especially with the team only having 17 transition possessions against New Orleans. High efficiency in transition will be important for the team’s success, and being so elite Sunday despite the Pelicans holding down the number of opportunities LA had was critical to keep the team in the game.
Rolling in Efficiency
Roll man possessions are comprising 10.9% of the team’s possessions so far. These are high value opportunities and are the fourth most valuable play type in general, only behind transition, putbacks, and cuts. 10.9% would be almost 25% more usage than the Pacers and their league leading 8.8% usage last season.
Also good is that 48% of LA’s shots from pick and rolls are coming from someone other than the ball handler. Having an offense with lots of pick and rolls that are generating roll man shots, cuts, and spot up opportunities is good offense.
The team also has big men with differing skillsets, but their pick and rolls have allowed each of them to do what they’re better at. Lopez and Kuzma are popping. Nance and Randle are rolling. And even though the team is only +0.5 points per game over the expectation through 3 games, these are such high PPP shots that it’s still great offense.
The team had a poor day at the office in terms of their spot up efficiency. 2 points in 8 combined possessions between Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Brook Lopez played a large role in the -6 points over expectation (POE) the team had Sunday spotting up. I don’t expect that poor shooting to continue, especially from Lopez and Ball.
The Laker Defense
The Lakers’ defense was worse than the expectation for the second game in a row.
Defending the Rim
As expected, the Pelicans’ duo of big men were able to score well on putbacks and dump-offs (categorized as cuts). What’s encouraging from the Laker defense was how Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were held to below average scoring on post ups and as roll men. If we can defend those two inside we can defend anyone.
Where LA didn’t defend well were the big-big handoffs that AD and Cousins executed. Going underneath on Davis led to open shots from him.
So the area the Lakers performed most poorly in was their miscellaneous defense, which definitely needs clarification. My explanation of it here is as follow:
“This is a potpourri of possessions that don’t fit into any of the other categories. This category includes plays such as:
- Possessions where the ball goes off a leg or is deflected and is picked up by another player and shot.
- Players being fouled in the backcourt
- Illegal screen offensive fouls
- Errant passes out of bounds or that are intercepted from players not currently in one of the other actions (most times they’re just standing at the top of the key), even if it’s to a cutter, player coming off of a screen, etc. On a playing coming off of a screen, this is miscellaneous rather than an off-screen possession because the turnover was on the passer, not the receiver.
- Possessions where the player dribbles into a pull up 3-point shot in the halfcourt.
- Inbounds passes that go directly out of bounds
- Another strange example: A possession where a player had the ball in transition, dribbled into the paint and lost his dribble on a spin move, recovered the ball and threw it out of bounds. It’d be a transition possession but by the time he threw it away the defense had recovered and been set.”
Where the Lakers were burned against New Orleans were on deflected balls Jrue Holiday picked up and scored on (3 times!). There was also a steal on an inbounds pass leading to a layup and another foul or two leading to free throws. Since these are normally fruitless possessions, having more than four of them that resulted in points for the opponent can kill you in this category.
If we wipe out these cheaper baskets from New Orleans, the defensive POE is just 4.7 points in the wrong direction.
Individual Player Spotlight
Moving forward, part of each post game data report will include a player spotlight on one player’s season to this point.
In today’s individual player spotlight is looking at Lonzo Ball. The rookie point guard has impacted the game positively with his passing and shot well in the second game of the year, but overall he’s had a profoundly negative scoring impact relative to what we’d expect an average player to do.
Again, this is his full-season data.
Ball is about a full made shot per game worse than the expectation in transition, and really isn’t having a positive scoring impact in any play type category. He’ll need to pick it up all around. Being over 5 points worse than what an average player would score a game is putrid offense.
Also of note is the usage of Ball so far. About 50% of his possessions are from pick and rolls, which is really high, even for a point guard. I’d like to see more cutting, spot up, and off screen possessions from Ball. The issue there is those will require good design and execution on set plays or good creation and distribution from another Laker, both of which are doubtful propositions based on what we’ve seen so far.
Next Game: Wednesday, October 25th against the Wizards at 7:30 PM local time. The game can be seen on ESPN.