Welcome to a double feature data report from the Laker games against the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz. Both games were interesting but ultimately led to losses for LA.
We’ll go offense first and then defense for both of the games played. The season review, which I was planning to include in this piece, will be a separate piece released soon.
To use an interactive tool and see more in-depth data than what’s about to be presented, check out the Laker Game Data spreadsheet I’ve compiled.
The Lakers Offense
Overall, this was our worst two game stretch offensively. The team was seemingly not clicking on every cylinder. Between 22 play types over two games the team had a positive Created Points Over Expectation (CPOE) in only six.
Game 1: Lakers vs Raptors
The Laker offense greatly struggled against Toronto, producing 14.7 fewer points than an average team would be expected to score. This is the third worst CPOE for the team on the season, only better than opening night’s vomit-inducing -25.7 and the second game we’ll cover today.
The Lakers were able to get into transition frequently and score at an efficient rate against the Raptors. 22.3% of the team’s possessions were in transition, and the 32 points scored from these opportunities is the second highest point total on the year from that area.
Isolation was somehow one of the Lakers’ best forms of offense against Toronto. Five Brandon Ingram isolation possessions and four Jordan Clarkson possessions made up the majority of the Lakers’ 12 iso tries on Friday. It’s good to see we’re converting on those chances, but 10.7% (the highest mark on the year) of a team’s possessions in isolation is far too high for an efficient offense. I don’t expect this trend to continue, but iso being used that frequently, and most times not just because the clock was winding down, is a yellow flag for me. Brandon Ingram insisting that isolation mid range pull ups are his shots is also of concern.
The last area LA scored more than a point more than expected was in the post. Lopez had six points in six possessions and Randle (4 points) and Nance (2 points) each chipped in with two possessions each. Lopez was able to pound inside to his spots or use seal positioning to get a lob and a basket, while Randle and Nance both started with positioning further out but used dribble moves to get by their big man defenders. I was really impressed with the moves I saw from all three players, and was impressed with how Nance and Randle decided to attack with quickness and facing up rather than bully ball.
What Didn’t Work?
Spot Up Shooting
You might want to look away for this next stat. The Lakers were 0/9 total on catch and shoot 3-pointers against Toronto, and 0/5 on open 3s. That should explain most of the -10 CPOE in spot up shooting.
Pick and Roll Ball Handler
The team only scored four points on 14 pick and roll ball handler possessions, but not all futility is built the same.
Lonzo Ball’s lack of production was a result of bad shot making but decent decision making. Josh Hart also had one very nice score at the rim off of a ball screen.
Far different were the possessions from KCP and Clarkson, which were full of bad contested mid range pull ups and turnovers.
Game 2: Lakers at Jazz
Somehow the performance I just described was substantially better than the one that’s about to cause damage to your retinas. The team had a positive CPOE in just one category, abandoned the post game a day after it being one of the few bright spots, and overall scored 20.7 points less than an average team would be expected to score.
The team was -3 on spot up opportunities, but this is actually improvement from the -6, -13, and -10 from the past three games. LA actually hit 36.4% (4/11) of their contested 3-pointers, which is a rate of efficiency that the team should be very pleased with.
That positivity doesn’t extend to the team’s open 3-point shots, where they were 0/6. Over the past two games the team is 0/11 on open catch and shoot 3-pointers. Making these will be critical if the team wishes to win 30+ games.
The team converted at about an average rate on their transition possessions, but were held to a season-low 12.3% of their possessions being in transition.
The Lakers Defense
It wasn’t what I was expecting, but the Laker defense was the side of the ball keeping them in both of these past two games. Two positive performances gives the team four above average games in the six they’ve played.
Game 1: Lakers vs Raptors
LA having positive defensive performances is nice to see. Doing it against the team that had the top half court offensive CPOE going into this game and has Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on the roster is really impressive. Holding Toronto to -8.9 in their half court offense is just an absolutely great performance from LA.
Luke Walton notably benched the Lakers’ starting unit for poor transition defense. The team overall only gave up 3.2 more points than expected in transition and 17.7% of their defensive possessions being in transition was the second lowest mark of the year.
However, the frequency and execution was night and day between the starting unit and bench units. The starting unit gave up 1.583 PPP with 19 points on 12 possessions. The bench gave up 0.667 PPP on four points in six possessions. I won’t speak to the efficacy of benching the starting unit, but the starters indeed weren’t getting back in transition.
Pick and Roll
LA was able to effectively shut down the pick and roll ball handler and kickout to spot up scoring (which generally account for about 30-40% of spot up possessions). Holding DeMar DeRozan to four points on nine possessions along with several steals to transition opportunities was key.
Game 2: Lakers at Jazz
The second game of the back to back also featured solid defense by the Lakers, which really kept them in the game.
Bests and Worsts
This game was one that led to the highest and lowest DPOE performances from LA all season
- Best: -6.0 transition DPOE
- Worst: +7.0 spot up DPOE
- Best: -5.4 isolation DPOE
- Worst: +4.4 off screen DPOE
Lakers Data Wrap Up
0-2 is a disappointing end result, but two positive defensive performances and some encouraging offensive components give the Lakers something to build on.
Hopefully over time the team will execute better offensively and start hitting open shots. Shooting so poorly on open 3-point shots isn’t going to get the job done.
One bright spot from these two games has been Josh Hart, who has the best Points Over Expectation ranking of any rookie. He’s gotten more playing time recently and has been a valuable asset to the team.
And again, if you’d like to see data for any specific Lakers game and see how these CPOE and DPOE numbers are trending, go to this spreadsheet.
Next Up: The Lakers play against Detroit at home on Tuesday at 7:30 PM local time.