The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

Postby rydjorker121 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:28 pm

I know we're only eight games in, so small sample size, finding our identity, etc. but eight games is eight games, and we can see how the Lakers are evolving as a team.

I remember when I was doing my scouting reports for the newer Lakers earlier this year--see my sig for the updated profiles--what I found was that we had a lot of newer players we were inheriting who were mid-range bingers who couldn't defend. Chris Kaman fits that to a T. Xavier Henry to some degree on both ends.

And lo and behold...that's what the Lakers are. A jumpshooting team that can't defend, with Mike D'Antoni's artificially increased pace ladled on top of that. The thing is--do you really want them to keep playing at this pace? This is the 6th oldest team in the league, with an average age of 29 years old, and while Kobe is injured, this is still an old team, particularly with old guards like Nash and Blake at the helm. Really, the pace isn't going to last.

OFFENSE:

Spoiler:
The Lakers offense is a wreck. They're 28th in offensive efficiency, and closer to 29th than they are to 27th. They masquerade this by the fastest pace in the league, so they still put up points, but this is really, really just a jumpshooting team. A fast-pace three point shooting team who struggles to get steals, so they just attempt to get up shots very quickly in the shot clock.

Their style of offense, as in the Phil Jackson days, pretty much relies on "the caretaker point guard" aspect--for example, Steve Blake has the 9th lowest usage rate among PGs, and Steve Nash's usage is now middling--not surprising, as both players are very old. Nash and Blake are de-facto PG playmakers but with their low usage, it's hard to squeeze too much impact out of them, especially since both have been absolutely atrocious from inside the three-point line. Largely, the Lakers run their offense around Pau Gasol (3rd highest usage rate among centers) and he's a better passer relative to position than both Nash and Blake are, and has the usage to boot. But with his scoring efficiency sinking straight to the denizens, that's not a good proposition to keep defenses honest. His scoring efficiency was also horrid last year, the first year of D'Antoni, so yeah...blame D'Antoni?

The Lakers' high usage types--and primary sources of offense--are structured mostly between their centers, a few of their swings, and Jordan Farmar. So there is diversity on how the offense is manufactured. The problem of course, lies in the execution. As mentioned, it's mostly on Pau Gasol (3rd among centers), but also Chris Kaman (8th). Nick Young and Xavier Henry also manufacture a ton of shots for themselves off the bench (8th and 9th among SFs). Finally, there's change-of-pace scoring PG Jordan Farmar (14th highest usage among PGs) who offers a stark contrast to Nash and Blake. The problem for this scoring crew is each came with their weaknesses and cannot be relied completely because of it: Pau's the worst at shooting 2's among centers, Kaman's the worst at drawing fouls among centers, Xavier has the blinders on and can't score in the paint, Nick Young also has the blinders on, and Jordan Farmar is way too turnover prone and completely nondescript as a scorer and passer. At this stage, no members of this skeleton are going to cut it for high octane offense.

Among the low usage types, by and large most are three point shooters who play off the high usage guys. Steve Blake pretty much only spots up for threes. Jodie Meeks also has the 15th lowest usage rate among SGs, which is on the low end, and again that's because he mostly camps out for threes. Overall, Meeks has been surprising as a scorer from both inside and outside the three point line, but one wonders if both can hold. Shawne Williams is the Meeks of power forwards in the Lakers' offense--no usage, no assists, and just spot up all day, but of course he's completely underwhelming in shooting this season (not surprising given his track record) so his minutes have been sporadic. Only Steve Nash uses his miniscule usage to probe up for shots in mid-range space, but of course, that's a horrid proposition not only because of the shot, but because he's absolutely bricking all his two-pointers this year. Wes Johnson has a middling usage rate and mostly uses it to launch threes as well.

Jordan Hill is lucky he has so many two-point bricks to clean up to really buoy his offensive efficiency, especially with the pace, and he's scoring lights out this year. At times, on offense, it looks like Hill is the only player on this team that can still glue up a championship team. Pau has an elite ability to pass, as always, but his two-point percentage really undermines a lot of value. Hill's the only player of value here. Every other player has limitations.


DEFENSE:

Spoiler:
The Lakers are a horrid defensive outfit. The best thing you can really say about them is that they don't foul and send opponents to the line, and at the behest of one very lucky Wesley Johnson, they're able to block shots (don't expect this to last long). And while they have a knack for defensive rebounding, particularly with their bigs, everything about this screams fluke, and even then, they're still being out defensive-rebounded.

Many of the problems are age-related and start with the Lakers unholy quadruplet of guards--Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks and Jordan Farmar. At first glance, Nash's defensive numbers look OK because he's really hidden all the time, but he can't defend any jumper any more as he overcompensates by trying to protect the paint due to his lack of wheels. The trickle-down effect is with Steve Blake, who at 6'3" has to defend a lot of shooting guards several inches taller than him: and he's just getting scorched individually, not only ceding all sorts of mid-range jumpers and threes but also losing his man for efficient at-rim conversions. Jodie Meeks has been similarly awful in defending shooting guards this season, relinquishing jumpers and at-rim finishes galore. Farmar is another one who struggles to contain key shots (at-rim shots, threes) especially when he has to guard shooting guards. Off-ball rotations may be decent with all four of them, but their inability to guard their supposed positions has led to a lot of hemorrhaging.

Elegantly stated, the Lakers lack a pure stopper. We knew this coming in given each player's body of work, but when Chris Kaman, a noted awful defender, is your best defender, it's pretty clear why your defensive efficiency is in the mid-20s. Kaman looks surprisingly reflexive with blocks and defensive boards in the outset, and has been surprisingly decent with his rotations and man-defense as well. The unfortunate part is, because of the guards' inability to guard the rim, Kaman has the lay low and thus opposing centers scorch him on mid-range J's. He also fouls a lot. But that's really less of his fault than on others. And the unfortunate part is, it's...Kaman. Meaning, we have to believe it's a fluke.

Pau's defense has fell off a lot. He just lacks lift. He can't guard centers, and even his rotations are very late at times. His rate of shotblocks are getting far less. There are a few virtues--he's gobbling up defensive rebounds, he still is able to guard power forwards, and he never fouls, per usual, at this point his lack of fouling looks lazy when coupled to his inability to defend. Still, he's better than the Lakers' guards, comparatively, due to his natural length and height. It's unfortunate because Pau's being misused on both ends--on offense he's settling for mid-range jumpers and getting fewer shots at the rim, and he's guarding centers. Worst of both worlds for him.

D'Antoni has used Wesley Johnson as a "faux" defensive stopper of sorts playing him at small ball power forward, but the results are very mixed. While Johnson is blocking shots to the stratosphere and corralling defensive rebounds well, he's an absolute hack, can't guard opposing power forwards at all due to weight limitations and doesn't really rotate all that well. Compared to a lot of the Lakers inferior defensive players, though, Johnson looks like a defensive god, even if what he's doing is far more sizzle than steak, a continuing trend ever since his rookie year. Shawne Williams is another who looks the part, with some ability to guard power forwards and rotate well defensively, but he cedes a ton of mid-range jumpers and threes to his man, doesn't rebound all that well, and is foul prone. And has a history of poor defense.

There's not much here. The Lakers don't force turnovers because they are one of the worst teams in stealing, but the problem is that it means that opponents can get any shot it wants against them, and if it's a jumper, it's over--the Lakers are 29th and 30th in mid-range and above break three defense. Even at-rim shots (20th) aren't a good proposition. There's just no personnel, and D'Antoni is making it worse by playing Steve Blake out of position and causing trickle down effects to the any of the bigs who did have some defensive potential.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OFFENSE

PROS: Three point shooting

Spoiler:
First, the "relative" pros: the Lakers are fifth in rate of three point shots, and while they hit them (39.5%), is it sustainable? Three point abusers include Steve Blake (59.7% of shots as threes, only Jose Calderon higher for PGs with 200+ minutes), Shawne Williams (62.7% of shots from three), Jodie Meeks (53.6% shots from three; only Kyle Korver and Danny Green among SGs with 200+ minutes), and Wesley Johnson (40.3% shots from deep). Farmar (34.12%) and Nick Young (31.9%) will also mix up their scoring with a few threes. Clearly, D'Antoni structured this team as a three point gunning team, from many different fronts.

However, the efficiency of this shot is really at the behest of four players--Steve Blake (48.8%), Jodie Meeks (45.9%), Wesley Johnson (38.7%) and Steve Nash (38.5%). But Nash might possibly retire, and Blake (career 39.1% three point shooter), Meeks (career 37.0% three point shooter) and Johnson (career 33.9%) won't continue shooting like this for long. In other words...it's going to be a bit of a fluke. And the Lakers will need to rely on other ways to score, but...


NEUTRAL: Assists
Spoiler:
The Lakers are an average passing team. Jordan Hill is surprisingly able this season (7th) and Pau's always up there (12th) for the centers. The Steve's (Steve Blake and Steve Nash) are 16th and 17th, respectively. Jordan Farmar's average at 38th for PGs. In terms of weak links, it's every single swing player the Lakers have: Wes Johnson (44th), Xavier Henry (45th), Nick Young (47th) and Jodie Meeks (53rd) as well as one Chris Kaman (41st) representing for the centers.


NEUTRAL: Turnovers

Spoiler:
Lakers do an OK job of holding onto the ball. Xavier Henry for all his foul-drawing madness actually doesn't turn the ball over all that much, and as a jumpshooter Meeks also protects the ball, a continuation of past trends for him. Steve Blake also really protects the ball well--yes, while he's a jumpshooter, he has to probe the paint for passes as well. Wes Johnson never turns it over never handling the ball for more than two seconds. Pau, Nick Young and Jordan Hill are decent for the most part. The major weak spots in turnovers come from the other point guards--Farmar's excessively turnover prone (3rd out of 67 PGs) trying to make things happen, and Nash will also force a few passes (28th) just to avoid shooting. And also, one Chris Kaman. For a mid-range jumpshooter, he has zero handles (13th most turnover prone center).


CONS: 2-pointers

Spoiler:
The offense are all non-three pointers are the major source of the wreck. The Lakers sport the absolute worst two-point percentage in the league, at 41.0%, and it isn't even close. Here's a nifty stat: Steve Blake is shooting 24.1% on 2's this year, and Steve Nash...21.2%. Among players who have already played 100 minutes, only Jose Calderon (20%) and the shadow of Jermaine O'Neal (19.2%) are worse. If your primary PGs can't hit their two-pointers, there's absolutely no way the defense is going to trust them when they penetrate into the lane. Which makes you wonder why players even bother guarding Blake or Nash when they probe the lane. But that's another discussion. Among players with over 100 minutes, Wes Johnson is also the worst 2-point shooting small forward (28.3%). So most of the Lakers good three point shooters are awful at hitting two-pointers. Talk about "specialists".

The problem is even the Lakers preferred two-point scorers can't hit two-pointers. Xavier Henry might draw a ton of fouls, but shooting 2's at 34.6% (310th in the league), defenses may as well not guard him and dare him to make the shot. Among core players (players who have played 200 minutes or more), Pau Gasol's the worst 2-point shooting center in the league, at 35.5% (307th). While that should recover to his averages, this indicates he's absolutely being misused. With so many two-point shooting weak links, Jordan Farmar's still poor 2-point percentage of 41.7% looks absolutely amazing. The only reliable two point shooters for the Lakers are Jordan Hill (62.3%) ,but also Chris Kaman and !GASP! Jodie Meeks (both at 56.3%), and Nick Young's also pulling his weight (49.0%). But Kaman and Meeks are unsustainable (Meeks career 2-point percentage is 46.3%, while Kaman's is 48.7%), so again, there's give and take. I guess, the greater question is: where would the Lakers be if Meeks wasn't shooting like this from 2-pointers? And where would they be without Jordan Hill to clean up all the misses this team is getting?

Looking deeper into this, the Lakers are collectively 27th in the league in at-rim finishing at 55.8% (no Dwight or Bynum hurts), and absolute worst mid-range shooting team in the league (30.2%). That's the problem.


CONS: Foul drawing

Spoiler:
The other problem is that the Lakers are 24th in the league at getting to the line--and that's pretty much all Xavier Henry. Among players with 100 minutes, Henry's the best foul-drawing shooting guard in the league as of now, with a free throw per shot rate of 0.612. Of course, as mentioned, given his two-point percentage, you should dare him to shoot, but his aggressiveness and Euro-step do make things happen. Nick Young too--only four shooting guards with 100+ minutes have higher rates, as well as Jordan Hill (6 PFs higher).

That's pretty much it. Now comes the bad news on this front: Pau Gasol's free throw rate, once consistently in the 0.4 mark, is now at a career low 0.26, indicating age but possibly also mis-use on offense. Here are several obnoxious stats: among all centers with at least 100 minutes, Chris Kaman's the worst drawing center in the league, with a rate of only 0.063. But anyone who's followed Kaman's career knows that it's nothing new: the three seasons prior, his rate was in the teens. He just doesn't draw fouls. Same goes for Wes Johnson: among small forwards with 100 minutes, only Jared Dudley, who just camps out at the three point line nowadays and can't jump, draws fouls less. The difference is, Wes is super athletic--but again, nothing new--he had super abysmal rates the past two years here as well. Finally, Steve Blake, among all core players (200+ minutes) is the worst foul drawing PG, not surprising since he can't hit 2's either. I noted all of these deficiencies in my scouting reports, and of course it would come to fruition.


CONS: Free throw shooting

Spoiler:
The Lakers two major foul drawers--Xavier Henry and Jordan Hill--are absolutely pathetic free throw shooters for their position. 53.7% and 35.3%, respectively. Nick Young gets there and hits at a cool 80.3%, but even he can't save the free throw mess of the first two. But really, the Lakers are a jumpshooting team so they won't draw fouls, but at least their "inside scorers" can help them scrounge for points there. But no go. As a result, they are 24th in free throw percentage despite being a good three point shooting team.


CONS: Offensive rebounding

Spoiler:
There's no o-boarding--the Lakers are 25th in offensive rebounds--and Jordan Hill is 3rd in the league offensive rebound rate. Imagine if the Lakers didn't have Hill...this category would be dead bottom. Jordan Farmar's surprising adept this year (4th among PGs) but his 2-point scoring and foul drawing are nothing to write home about and Wesley Johnson is decent as well, but he just pretends to hustle because as mentioned, he can't score inside the 2-point line or draw fouls. Chris Kaman (39th out of 53 centers) and Pau Gasol (48th) just don't bother here, given age. This team is OK at limiting turnovers (11th) but that's to be expected for a jumpshooting team, and just average at passing (15th).


CONS: Telegraphed passes or turnovers leading to steals

Spoiler:
Granted, the Lakers play at a fast pace, but they rank 29th in opponent steals per game. Yes, they avoid offensive fouls or other dead ball turnovers, but still...


DEFENSE :

PROS: Shotblocking

Spoiler:
A team without Dwight or Bynum is 6th in the league in shotblocking as of now. Wesley Johnson is really packing the punch here (2nd) and surprisingly fluke-ing it up is Chris Kaman (17th). Pau (32nd) and Jordan Hill (26th) are merely ok. It lies on the behest of a 6'7" small forward in Johnson as of now, so this could be a fluke.


PROS: Avoiding sending players to free throw line

Spoiler:
The Lakers are 6th in opponent free throw attempts per field goal attempt, so combined with the Lakers' inability to draw fouls, many of their games are foul free. It isn't super awful, but four Lakers (Nick Young, Shawne Williams, Chris Kaman and particularly Wesley Johnson) really need to watch their foul rates, however.


PROS: Defensive rebounding, but...

Spoiler:
The Lakers collectively are fourth in defensive rebounding. Pau is surprisingly adept at gobbling up defensive boards this season (1st), and it's not even close to the second guy among centers, although he's never rebounded anywhere this well so this is a definite fluke. Chris Kaman as well (12th) is putting up his second best career defensive rebound rate, and Jordan Hill (16th) is also there. Wesley Johnson (8th) is doing incredibly surprising work here as well, as well as Jordan Farmar (12th), both above their norms. Of the five, only Hill and maybe Johnson has any real signs of holding up. Collectively, for now, the three Lakers bigs, Farmar and Johnson are really helping the Lakers clean up the rare opponent bricks. Elsewhere, Blake and Meeks are OK, but Xavier Henry (47th), Nick Young (49th) and Steve Nash (60th), as per their norms, show little knack for this. The problem is that with the fast pace, opponents out-defensive-rebound the Lakers, so that puts a damper on this.


CONS: Defense

Spoiler:
23rd in defensive efficiency. The Lakers get severed on above the break threes (opponents shoot 42.7%, worst in league), mid-range shots (opponents shoot 44.8%, 29th in defense) and also a few at-rim attempts (61.9%, 20th in league). Corner three defense and some non-restricted area paint shot defense are decent, but opponents pretty much can get any jumper they want against the Lakers without swinging the ball over for corners, and can also feed it inside. It's a very soft defense.

Advanced stats reveal that Laker guards just provide very little resistance in protecting the rim, with Jodie Meeks (64%), Jordan Farmar (63.7%) and Steve Blake (63%) bearing the brunt of it. Blake and Meeks not only cannot defend the paint, they can't defend mid-range jumpers (45.9% and 44.9% respectively), but Nash is the worst at this (47.1%) while he sags off and tries to guard the paint more due to his quickness limitations. Jodie Meeks, at 42.2%, is also a primary culprit in his inability to attend to above the break three point shooters, with Farmar also being a weak link here. Overall, this unholy foursome, with Meeks surprisingly, is hemorrhaging on defense pretty much everywhere.

And it's also very sad when Shawne Williams and Chris Kaman, two noted awful defenders, are the ones leading the ranks in your defensive efficiency. Pau Gasol, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill are also doing an admirable job, but it's hard covering for defensively challenged guards.

Surprisingly, Chris Kaman, at 59.7%, is more adept than the guards at defending these shots. However, Kaman absolutely gets scorched guarding mid-range jumpers (45.6%), probably because he lays back and tries to defend the paint more against the Lakers' incompetent defensive guards. The same goes for Shawne Williams (50% mid-range shots for opponents, 41.4% for above break threes).


CONS: Steals

Spoiler:
The Lakers rank 27th in stealing. This isn't surprising for an old team, but here's a sobering stat: among players who have played five or more games, no Laker even gets a steal a game. Farmar and Blake are 33rd and 35th, Jodie Meeks in the same range among SGs, Pau hasn't even got one by accident, Nash putting up his usual submarine rates here. Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Xavier Henry are all in their 20s in their respective positions. All in all, they just don't have a difference-maker here. Since the Lakers can't force steals, opponents are able to get any shot they want against the Lakers. If it's a jumper, good luck, because they're likely to make it.
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Re: The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

Postby Ras Algethi on Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:06 pm

Thanks for the break down. Paints a very ugly picture.
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Re: The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

Postby revgen on Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:24 pm

Great writeup rydjorker.

I can't say I'm surprised.
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Re: The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

Postby Vasashi17 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:40 pm

One stop sum up of a season where most fans are not spending a good amount of time on...so greatly appreciate the efforts Jorker and thanks for"taking one for the team" in terms of time committed in examining such an unglamorous product.
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Re: The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

Postby Sirron on Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:13 pm

I had to stop after the first spoiler. :man6:
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Re: The 2013-14 Lakers: Through 8 games, Just the Stats

Postby nduri on Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:05 pm

This team reminds me, a little, of the old Golden State Warrior teams. They can win games when their 3pt shooting was on, but get blown out when it's off. The danger of a team like this is that they will be off far more than they will be on. We still have little steady production in the post and going to the basket. Adding those things, along with 1 or 2 solid perimeter defenders will go a long way to making this team a threat. The front office deserves props for the addition of shooting, youth and athleticism in the off-season. We are potentially looking at another rise to prominence with 2 more solid offseasons. A 3 year rebuild project, most sports teams would envy that.
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