lukewForum Bue & Gold: The recent post by Kurt that focused on Lamar Odom and the post by Reed on our team after 30 games got me thinking a lot about the make up of the team, our best lineups, and our roster in general.  As Reed pointed out, we are a top 5 team in both Offensive and Defensive efficiency.  Despite some inconsistent effort and some spotty and sloppy play, the Lakers have been a truly dominant team.  And up to this point, in this forum, we’ve focussed a lot on our Strong Side Zone and how that change in philosophy (when executed properly) is a challenge for teams that face us, especially when they see the defense for the first time.  However, one thing that we have not really discussed in depth is what we’re doing on offense, why it’s working, and who is doing what in making our offensive attack remain one of the best in the NBA.  And in the last 10 games, we’ve seen a change in the lineup that I think has helped us execute on offense and will continue to help us execute on offense for the rest of the season.

For the last 10 games, Luke Walton has been put back into the starting lineup.  And if we go back to the recent past, this is not a new concept.  Two seasons ago, Luke was a mainstay at Small Forward.  But for the first 20 games of this season, Luke had been relegated to mop up time in blowouts or spot duty due to foul trouble to our other SF’s.  But now that he is back starting, we can once again appreciate the things that Bill’s son brings to the table and how that is helping this Laker’s team on offense.

First off, Luke is a fantastic fit for this offense.  His ability to handle the ball, see the floor, execute the simple and complex pass, post up, penetrate, and shoot the ball is the exact skill set required for a wing player in this offense.  Sure, he could shoot the ball better (an understatement, I know).  And sure, he is not the quickest person whose first step scares defenders.  However, the combination of a good enough jumper, his repetoire of hesitation moves, knowledge of angles, and know how to use his frame to create space for himself to get his shot off are traits that make him an underrated offensive player.  Add to the fact that he has (as mentioned frequently, but bears repeating) a tremendous basketball IQ and he is the type of player that can be a glue player for any motion offense as he knows what to do with the ball.  He is unselfish enough to pass to the open player while also being smart enough to know when to shoot.

X’s and O’s wise, the most important thing that Luke brings to the offense is his want to execute the Triangle in all phases.  What this means is Luke focusses just as hard on making the right pass or making the shot that he takes as he is on moving/cutting off the ball and setting screens to free up his teammates.  If you watch Luke in any given game on any given possesion, you’ll see a player that is doing what he is supposed to be doing on almost every single play.  This level of execution is what makes the Triangle offense one of (if not the) most difficult offenses to defend (especially when every other player is acting in this same manner).  For example, Luke often finds himself as the initiator of the offense from the strong side guard postion.  And when Luke makes an entry pass either to the wing or to the post, he cuts hard and then executes the motion in the offense superbly.  By cutting hard and setting the screens that he’s supposed to with the proper timing and at the proper angle, Luke is consistenly getting his teammates the half step they need to get open.  I mean, how many times have you seen Luke pass to the post from the strong side, cut to the weakside low block and set a good screen that either frees up Gasol/Bynum to roll to the basket?  How many times does he set this same screen for Kobe?  And then when the defense reacts to this and tries to cheat into the lane to defend the curl play, how many times have you seen Luke seal the man that he screens to free himself up for an easy lay up or draw a foul?  These are plays that Luke executes with great frequency that other players that play SF just don’t do on a consistent basis.

Earlier, I also mentioned Luke’s ability to handle the ball.  In our starting lineup, having a third ball handler that can run the fast break or initiate the offense is a key to the offense running smoothly.  When you think back to last season, Odom was that third player.  But this year, with Bynum and Gasol in the lineup together, and Radman starting, we really didn’t have that third player.  But now that Luke is in the starting lineup, he’s getting outlet passes and running the fast break, he’s initiating offense as a primary ball handler, and he’s setting up his teamates for scores.  Once Luke got back to getting minutes consistently, we’ve seen an increase in easy layups and dunks for teammates in the half court, on the fast break, and on the delayed break/early offense.  Luke is masterful at hitting cutters at the right time and at identifying the trailing big man and hitting him in stride to finish at the basket without having to dribble.  When watching the game, these may seem like simple, fundamental plays.  But how often were we seeing them before Luke began getting consistent minutes?

Overall, I understand that Luke is not the perfect player.  As I said earlier, his jumper is not reliable and his lack of quickness (on offense and defense) is obvious.  But, in the end, I like the fact that he’s starting again.  I like that players are running and cutting harder because they know that he’s looking for them.  I like that players are getting open off his screens.  I like that we have another post up option in our half court sets.  I like that Kobe and Fisher don’t always have to bring the ball up and initiate the offense with the first unit.  But most of all, I just like that we’re back to running our sets with more consistency.  Earlier in the season, I commented for a week straight that we were running too much Pick and Roll and isolations (from the wing and the post) in our half court offense.  We were running these types of sets so often that I just stopped saying it.  But for the past ten games, it’s been different.  It’s not all because of Luke, but I do know that before he started playing, it just wasn’t happening.  But I’m not the only guy watching.  What do you guys see?

-Darius

  • daboss1849

    Black people should be mad everytime someone says Luke has high BB IQ. The guy has no BB skills and because he is white he is considered to have high BB IQ. Simply retarded

  • mo_altarhuni

    luke adds a lot of tangibles to this team beyond his stats, he makes our offense click, and he does a lot of things on the court that make this team flow better. He doesn’t do the bonehead plays that Radman so often did, he is patient and runs the offense. I’m just skeptical about his defense…

  • 24allup inya

    well i gues we have to keep everybody ready! thats probably the reason for Phil alternating Rad and Luke…

  • http://myspace.com/sonicussj Whatsa

    I have more hope in the Lakers when Luke starts.

  • LAL8306

    This is the position where I feel we need to attain another player to put us over the top. We can survive being beat up by quick guards(proved this by beating AI, Deron Williams and tony parker in the western conf. playoffs & constantly beating C. Paul) but when we also decisevely lose the battle at SF we not always but tend to lose to those teams. Luke is an improvement to Vlad in a few ways, though he doesnt space the floor as well his passing is without question some of the best in the league at that position and his attention to detail in running the triangle maybe second to none on the roster. The thing I like most is that he doesnt allow himself to be defended by smaller, weaker players. For example when we lost to Detroit there was a large chunk of that game where RIP was guarding Fisher, Prince on Kobe and AI ON VLAD and they got away with it, THAT CANT HAPPEN!!! Espsecialy on a championship team, that becomes too much of an advantage for a good defensive team and is one of the big reasons why we have had so much trouble with teams like Houston, Cleveland, Boston and Detriot over the past two years. Luke doesnt allow teams to do that cause he has a very good post up game and feels very comfortable on the box. Unfotunately Luke has a very incosistant shot from well… everywhere, weather it be a three, mid range or freethrow and though he tries hard on defense im not sure he can guard the better 3 men in the league or at least make them work hard for everything they get. This is why I want us to make a push for a better 3 man who has better tools to defend ( hight, speed, stregnth)rebound and is of equal if not better offensive skills.I also belive that now might be the time to bring in another good young player who may be able to learn from KB and help in the transition for when Andrew, trevor(who may fill this role but am not sure if he can) and jordan inherit the team. Maybe unrealistic to attain but guys like G.Wallace Travis Outlaw and my dream come true the return of Caron Butler could be great for us. All and all Luke has done a good job and is the best option currently for us to start, I just hope he continues to work on his shooting and defense.

  • Smush Walton

    Unfortunately, Luke is a major liability when he is on the floor. With his inept outside shot, defenders can basically leave him wide open, which clogs things up for our more productive players like Kobe and Pau.

    What a HUGE MISTAKE it was to trade away Caron Butler for Kwame Brownstain. If only we had the wisdom to keep Caron and trade another player that we kept because of his “potential” and “versatility”, we would definitely be a lot stronger and consistent today.

  • Smush Walton

    I agree with LAL8306′s assessment. Finding a more consistent player for the 3 spot should be a top priority. This is a major weak spot on the Lakers that teams like Detroit, Boston, Cleveland and Houston will continue to exploit as they have the past two years.

  • skim.

    i say we dump lamar and bring in JOSH SMITHHHHHH. im down to see dunks and blocks every night at staples.

  • http://TheLakersNation.info Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #57540 Will Be Quoted Here]

    why do you have to bring race into this?

    Insanely Healthy Energy for TLN!

  • http://www.lakersvolssparks.blogspot.com Margo

    This is exactly what I was trying to say on another site…Luke sets up the offense well, and keeps the ball moving. I also like how he sets up Lamar and Sasha when he is on the floor. I don’t see the Lakers picking anyone up, as long as this team continues to play descent defense with Luke in that starting unit. About time for me to be able to NOTICE the Luke Walton effect…

  • ojt

    luke is f***ing joke to nba,he sucks,he can’t shoot,not even a layup,can’t defend or rebound.When he is in there he gets no respect as no team really guards him because he is no threat,it’s like the lakers playing 4 against 5.trade,buy luke out,or let he crazy femakle stacker scare him off.as he he is scare to do anything in the floor.

  • pio2u

    I like Luke but he is not NBA-starter material. This is our weak link & it will be exploited by our opponents.

  • b2winus

    Luke is on the starting lineup because he is a Laker. I know it sounds odd, but Luke won’t make the starting lineup in any other team besides the Lakers because his character fits perfectly to Lakers and Lakers only.

    There is only one ball and we have four guys on the court who want it; Kobe is a big time scorer, Pau and Bynum need touches, even Fisher shoots a lot these days. I mean someone must sacrifice one’s chance to score and Luke is more than happy to do that.

    Plus Luke doesn’t have to be a good regular shooter anyway, he just needs to be a good spotup shooter. Bruce Bowen is not a shooter, in fact if you see his FT, you will see that he is one of the worst in the NBA. But he is the starting SF of one of the greatest teams of 2000 because for one he can defend, but also he can shoot trays from the corner. All Luke needs to do is just that. Pass, camp/spotup and shoot corner trays.

    Luke doesn’t have to be a good defender because Lakers play zone. Just be aware of his spot and watch the cuts, he will do ok.

  • LEADERFISH

    Luke is a chemistry guy that is why he is starting.

  • eagleslakers2011

    just put in rad man! and get it over with honestly! lol….well it really doesnt matter…with odom and ariza on the bench…sickest bench in the league..no contest!

  • Logic Guy

    +/-STAT is a statistic that looks at the point differential when players are both in and out of the game. You can look at it for an individual or for groups of players.Before Friday’s game luke ranked 10th. Just ahead of Mbenga.He contributes nothing but intangibles, which only you phony Luke Lovers can measure. You want to give up a championship for thar beautiful smile? This statistic is largely affected by who you are on the floor with. Most of Luke’s time has been with starters and he should be riding on there coat tails to a respectable number. _________ By contrast , I was surprised to find that Lamar was number one and Kobe was Number two. Lamar being number one was a surprise, but that is primarily due to being with Farmar when he had the second unit cooking playing pick and roll and very little triangle. He got in Phil’s dog house for doing that. During that time, the second unit was out playing the firsr unit.___Radmonivich was #5. When it comes to combinations, you get all the way down to #5 before you find Luke’s name in a player combination. SO, stop all that phony crap about what Luke does for the team. He helps the opposition more.

  • LogicGuy

    Because of Luke’s very low +/- statistic it is hard to understand why there are games when Luke plays more minutes than Lamar. This is a slap in the face to Lamar and he does not deserve that kind of treatment. I am begnning to dislike sleeping Phil. If they blow the championship this year it will be his fault. Remember how loyal Phil was to SMUSH? We have the same thing with Luke. Difference it that Luke is a very likable guy with a good personality. I think his best position would be point guard which would utilize his passing skills and knowledge of the triangle. His defense at that position couldn’t be any worse than we curentrly have. His height could bother some of those quick midget point guards, as well as post them up on offense. ________ Playing Luke at the point would not hurt team defense at that position, however, it would greatly improve the defense at small forward. Radmonivich had some good games on D at the three. I think the team will need a three point shooter to win it all. Since Radmonivich has been gone it has become very congested down low and they have gotten much less offense down there, especially Bynum. That change to Luke starting has killed Bynum’s game. THEY NEED RADMAN TO KEEP THE DEFENSE HONEST. Let Radmonivich share the three with Ariza (The best three on the team) and forget about everybody else.

  • MR. JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    Yeah, gotta agree with Logic,
    …If The Lakers are NOT going to start neither Ariza nor Lamar, their next best option, to start the game, without a doubt is Radmanovic.
    …Radman opens the floor, which Luke does not!
    …Radman can hit the trey consistently when given ample minutes, thus increasing the chance of getting a good, if not great, jump on the opponent to start the game!
    …Radman’s space cadet defense is still BETTER than Luke’s “No Fleet of Feet” version and liability that he brings to the mix!
    …Just like Logic points out to all Luke Lover’s, who insist Luke brings intangibles to the game; are locking in on “fool’s gold” of intangible goods!

  • LEADERFISH

    Some stats are misleading. +/- stats are good but in this case you need to go by recent history. Luke has started the last 11 games and the previous times he got in the game was garbage time with Mbenga, Mihm, etc… enuff said. We need to go by the last 10 games since he has started stats and the +/- stats for Luke in the last 10 games are 3rd on the lakers. Only Fish and LO are ahead of him. He is even slightly ahead of Kobe. So to say Luke should be starting on his +/- stats is not correct. As far as Radman is concerned opening up the lane with his shooting yes.. but that positive has to go against many negatives. His ball handling and passing are atrocious and he many times does not know the triangle that well that he goes to the wrong spots. Luke however handles the ball and passes great and keeps the starting five in the tri system. Too many negatives for Radman despite his streaky great shooting. Give me the consistent guy who understands the game than the guy who can get hot in his shooting and ruins the offensive chemistry. Sorry Warlock gotcha again.

  • LEADERFISH

    Correction ^^^ So to say Luke SHOULDN’T be starting on his +/- stats is not correct.

  • LAL8306

    This is the spot where we need to improve at the SF. The reason why Luke currently is a better fit is thatt he is dedicated to running the triangle and he doesnt allow himself to be defende by a smaller guard like when we lost to detroit AI guarded him and that cant happen! Luke comes with his faults as well but thats y i hope we can swing a deal for a better SF. Also thats when All these stars try to defend KB in the Fourth and qoute ” OUTDUEL” him is when theyve been taking it easy all day just taking the three away from radman and scoring at will against him then decide to go up against KB when hes taken time defending the oppositions best player and scorring against their best defender. Lebron and Pierce are notorious for this!

  • MR. JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    [Comment ID #57601 Will Be Quoted Here]
    …Does that mean VladRad is the astronomer guy? …Wouldn’t that make Trevor the seismological dude? …Who’s the numbers guy? …Sun Yue? …Who got who?

  • LEADERFISH

    Obviously you don’t know the definition of chemistry. You might want to look up the definition. I like the way PJ is using Luke and you don’t. I go with the guy with 9 rings not with a guy who calls himself a warlock. Stick with warlock concerns becuase basketball is obviously not your sport.

  • MR. JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    Eh, dumbfish,
    …First learn how to spell-check, before you can even dream of ascertaining how to come up with;
    Legitimate and impact full statements!
    …Geeeezus …Classic dumb-dumb!

  • LEADERFISH

    If the best you can come up with is spell check as a rebuttal you have no business on this blog. Your posting probably mimics your game. WEAK!!!!!!

  • MR. JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    …You have no idea how my “Game”, not just in basketball, but in ANY sport, will not only schoolfish, but will leave the meat on your spines, as left-over for the cat’s meow, to ponder!

  • LEADERFISH

    Again another immature and ignorant statement. Your game is how fast can I gather the basketball for the team after practice Waterboy.

  • MR. JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    [Comment ID #57881 Will Be Quoted Here]
    …Eh, You are the ultimate quintessential StuperDuperFish, if there ever was one;
    …Gotta go, See ya, No wanna be ya!

  • LEADERFISH

    No wanna be ya? How old did you say you were? 12?