The Lakers Data from LA’s recent loss to the Warriors is some of the most encouraging of any loss this year. Some great individual performances by key players and solid team outings offensively and defensively make this a very interesting game to look into.
After the loss, LA is playing like a 31 win team, up from 30 before this game. These projections are based off of how the team has played so far this season according to my Points Over Expectation data and the calculations Jacob Goldstein put together. It also factors in the exact matchups remaining, with homecourt advantage and rest days also baked in.
LA brought it against one of the league’s best defenses. The team is still 27th in offensive efficiency, but LA has had four positive half court CPOE performances in five games. They’ve averaged an overall CPOE of +2.5 over that span, good for sixth in the NBA.
We saw Brandon Ingram get to the rim at will all game, but it wasn’t just him. LA has 23 3-pointers, 23 mid range shots, and 47 shots at the rim. That’s far too many mid range shots.
Most of these middle shots are off the dribble, where LA is dead last in efficiency.
Winning at the Rim
When LA got to the rim they converted. Take a look at this shot chart.
Blue is better. LA had some nice shooting from outside in most areas, was bad from mid range, and shot over SEVENTY percent at the rim. On the year, LA has the fourth highest shooting efficiency on non-post up shots around the rim (and are 28th in post ups) shooting 62%.
Pick and Roll Offense
Here is the team’s shot chart from all shots from the pick and roll. Ball handler, roll men, and passes to cutters and spot up shooters. It wasn’t pretty except for when the pick and roll ball handlers or roll men (who were 4/4) got to the rim.
LA had an incredible performance Wednesday spotting up. When you remove the two shots derived from pick and roll pass outs, a miss from mid range and a miss at the rim, LA was 6/9 from deep (nice), 1/1 from mid range, and 5/5 at the rim on spot ups.
The Lakers’ otherworldly spot up performance had a lot to do with the extra passes we’re seeing. LA had 342 passes in this loss, which translates to 310 over 48 minutes (adjusting for the overtime). Over the past 5 games LA is averaging 303 passes per game, up from the 275.9 they were averaging in the 16 games before.
Brandon Ingram played well in isolation against the Dubs (who I was surprised to see only 12th in the league at defending iso). Ingram dominated in this facet against mismatches and blew by Zaza Pachulia and Jordan Bell several times. This is quite uncharacteristic from Ingram on the season as a whole. On the year, Ingram has only been in the 32nd percentile, but it doesn’t look like he’ll stay that low for long.
Ingram is also only 4/13 on the season in isolation against switches. Accounting for turnovers and foul shots and his PPP in this area is in the 14th percentile. If we narrow this field to just the 14 other players who’ve had as many of these possessions as Ingram, only JJ Barea has been less efficient. This comes as a surprise to me, and hopefully somewhere he’ll grow to improve.
For Brandon to improve in isolation overall, he’ll need to become a better jump shooter off the dribble. He’s 2/10 on the season on those jumpers in iso, while he’s shooting 39.5% on his isolation drives (which is in the 36th percentile (not great)). If he can start making those shots more frequently (and more pull ups in general), it’ll open up his drives even more and should help him score more efficiently.
LA had a below average defensive performance compared to league average defensive PPP for each play type. But c’mon, it’s the Warriors. So skip this graphic.
Here’s the one you want. This is how the Lakers performed with the “Expected Points” based off of how efficiently the Warriors have scored this season in each play type. The Lakers held the Warriors to 6.6 points below what the Dubs would be expected to score against the average team they’ve faced this season. I’d say that’s much better.
I want to start with the defense that is most apparent to anyone watching live and showed up really well. Julius Randle specifically continued his dominant isolation defense with several key stops, including a few clutch ones against both Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.
Randle didn’t just play good isolation defense. He was solid all around, allowing opponents to shoot just 2/8 when he was defending them. KD was 0/3, Thompson 0/1, Green 0/1, Curry 1/2, and His Swagginess was 1/1 against Randle.
Randle’s ability to defend well all over the court is making a real impact this season.
One guy who had a bad night defensively was Lonzo. Here’s his defensive shot chart.
Ball had faced only 12 shots from shooters running off of screens going into this game. Against Golden State he faced four more. He conceded six points off of these actions to Golden State’s shooters and another five points from spot up opportunities.
Overall, Lonzo gave up 11 points in 11 possessions once you account for turnovers and free throws. It wasn’t a great defensive outing, but the matchups were tough (KD, Steph, and Klay had possessions against him) and he at least had a nice offensive game.