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Shortcomings of the Lakers Offense So Far


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#1 bfc1125roy

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 02:01 AM

INB4 following excuses:

  • We've only had 2 preseason games it's too early to make judgements
  • This team is revamped with several new players. It takes time for them to gel and understand each others tendencies. We will hit our stride by mid-season
  • Lonzo Ball is injured. He's a major piece of the puzzle as far as playmaking is concerned.

Facts: If you understand how NBA offenses work, then you will be familiar with the idea that no matter the composition of the roster, how much time the players have to gel, etc... The offensive system of a team is always a constraint on their ability to be effective. Golden State from Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr is a great example of this fact. Even in the preseason, it is NEVER too early to judge a team if you understand the offense they are trying to run. And here I am going to explain why what Luke and his staff are doing is not at all optimal for the make up of our roster.

 

Now I know what you are thinking. "It's the preseason. They're just trying things out. We probably haven't even figured out what our offense is going to be yet." This is a valid concern on the surface, but two points pretty much make that argument moot.

  1. NBA teams rarely change their primary offense after the preseason. Significant overhauls to the system are tough to do outside of training camp, and while of course tweaks and different sets are experimented with during the preseason and even the regular season, it is very uncommon to see a team run a completely different offensive system than the one they started the preseason with. Some counterexamples do exist, most notably Miami in 2010, but this took the cognizance of an underrated coach in Spolestra, as well as organizational pressure from Riley.
  2. What we are doing on the offensive end so far is very similar to what we ran last year. This tells me Luke isn't making any major changes to our system and relying on the same general blueprint. I've written extensively in the past about why that system was outdated, ineffective, and ultimately showed us how inexperienced Walton is as a coach. I will summarize those concerns in this post. 

Now for the meat of the post: what we are running and why it is suboptimal for this roster. I haven't had time to clip plays for this, but I am sure someone on YouTube will beat me to it.

 

During the offseason, we clamored about how we were going to be different from Cleveland, and how LeBron James was going to play more offball. That this teams lack of shooters did not matter, and that in order to beat the Warriors we cannot play the same style of offense they did. These assertions are absolutely valid, but unfortunately it seems that the coaching staff has done little to implement any of this.

 

Our offense nearly always starts with the team pushing the ball in transition whenever it gets the opportunity. This choice makes perfect sense for having a roster full of young, athletic players as well as multiple playmakers, and is probably the only part of the offense that I agree with. However, when the game slows down, especially in the playoffs or against smarter teams, you need to have some semblance of a strategy in the half court, and that is where this team comes up short.

 

The half court offense tends to start a high PnR, or occasionally an "angled" PnR (made famous by D'Antoni in his time with Phoenix). And quite frankly, there's little else that we do after this, other than sprinkle in some Ingram ISOs (which you already know how I feel about). Now, there are a number of problems with this system, and I will list them below:

  1. The high PnR is the number one play teams are most practiced for defensively. Because of this, teams will often run a prelude to the high PnR to disguise it, much like most offenses do when running Horns nowadays. The issue is, I have seen very little of this, both last season and this preseason. We are still relying on the outdated dribble weave as our primary "mixup" here, and I did see one Spain PnR run late in the 3rd quarter of the 2nd game by the bench, but that was pretty much it. While this is a deadly weapon, you need to add a lot more to actually have an offense. Even Cleveland, who we criticized so much last year for having a one-dimensional offense and playing "LeBron-ball" even ran some interesting things regularly like a high post split. Also, this strategy does very little to get LeBron off ball, which I will talk about more later. 
  2. Good defensive teams will take advantage of our lack of shooting here. Even a very competent PnR team like the Rockets knows that you have to have good 3 point shooting if you are going to run the PnR very heavily. Any good defensive team will just clog the paint and force guys like KCP to shoot 10 3s a game, and live with the results. The Nuggets started to do this more in the 3rd quarter and it led to a lot of turnovers on our part. Now, we don't need good shooting if we run an offense that has people setting screens, moving off ball, cutting, etc. But if we are going to just abuse the high PnR, then yes, we need 4 guys on the court to be able to shoot effectively from 3 to ensure proper spacing.
  3. Having 3 guys stand around every possession is bad. A high PnR centric offense can actually work if you actually do something off the ball. When we mentioned we were going to move LeBron off ball this summer, we didn't mean just having him stand around and watch a Rondo-McGee PnR. First of all, since we don't have many high caliber shooters, our guys should be doing something else other than waiting on the perimeter. A common strategy is to do run some weakside action to distract the help defense and allow the high PnR on the strong side to work better... but again I saw little to none of this. Furthermore, Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr have both echoed the sentiment that having guys stand around on the court reduced their "juice" and takes them out of the game, meaning they play less hard on defense and their morale reduces significantly. When you saw the Rockets miss 27 straight 3s in the WCF game 7 last year, this was part of the cause, Their shooters all went cold because they weren't involved in the offense at all. In fact, this is why the Warriors run some of the least amount of PnR in the entire league. Kerr has stated that he opts for this because the Warriors have so many great playmakers they want to utilize them to the fullest. Well we have LeBron, Lonzo, and Rondo who are all above average in that department, so why aren't we doing more here? This video explains it in more detail (start at 5:30): 

The fact of the matter is, with a roster devoid of a high number of accurate 3 point shooters, and filled with more playmakers, as well as an aging LeBron, we need to stay away from repeatedly running high PnR and had having 3 guys stand around doing nothing, and instead run more off ball action, cuts, weakside screens, and make more use out of our biggest strengths: playmaking and toughness. While the first 2 preseason games left us a lot to be optimistic about, regarding what will happen when the team gels and hits its stride, our offensive system may prove to be our bottleneck in making a deep run into the playoffs, especially if Walton does not wise up and start making some major changes.

 

Again, please go back and read the post fully before commenting "It's only 2 preseason games", "The team hasn't had time to gel yet" or "Injuries"


Edited by bfc1125roy, October 03, 2018 - 02:03 AM.

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#2 Jody Smokes

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 07:28 AM

You found this somewhere and copied and pasted it....you aint gotta lie Craig!


"Blake and Parker are good at canceling each other out till our bench point guard comes in"  - Majesty aka Bird Ish (12/4/13)


#3 LACAS

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 08:02 AM

We'll be fine... 



#4 Toe Sucker

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 08:12 AM

Luke Walton needs to go.
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#5 erfolk

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 09:23 AM

The first line says its to early to make judgements then you do the direct opposite.
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#6 kray28

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 09:28 AM

I don't think the Lakers are going to have any problems scoring points. It's the other end...specifically interior D and rebounding that is going to be a problem. Mason Plumlee looked like Wilt out there last night. We badly need a backup center.


Edited by kray28, October 03, 2018 - 09:31 AM.

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#7 kray28

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 09:33 AM

Luke Walton needs to go.

 

I have no complaints about Luke. He's doing a good job of seeing what he has to work with on the roster. Don't worry about wins and losses right now.


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#8 Jody Smokes

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 09:51 AM

Not really any left tbh.  Until Wagner gets healthy Beasley is the de facto C b/c he can atleast defend in space unlike Zu.  If Zu has to move his feet too much he's bbq chicken on D. 

 

I don't think the Lakers are going to have any problems scoring points. It's the other end...specifically interior D and rebounding that is going to be a problem. Mason Plumlee looked like Wilt out there last night. We badly need a backup center.


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"Blake and Parker are good at canceling each other out till our bench point guard comes in"  - Majesty aka Bird Ish (12/4/13)


#9 Adam

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 12:49 PM

#AndrewBynum 😂😂😂


Not really any left tbh. Until Wagner gets healthy Beasley is the de facto C b/c he can atleast defend in space unlike Zu. If Zu has to move his feet too much he's bbq chicken on D.


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#10 bfc1125roy

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 02:56 PM

If we are banking on Mo Wagner to play 20-30 mins a game as a defensive center, we will have much bigger problems to worry about than anything I described in the OP.



#11 bfc1125roy

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 03:08 PM



#12 Jody Smokes

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 03:22 PM

A backup C is a need but it's debatable if there were any legit options that were going to sign. 

 

Too often these conversations are from the perspective of what the team should do or what they control, but what about what the player should do or what they control?  A lot of us were puzzled Brook wasn't resigned but what if Brook didn't want to come off the bench?  Play on a team where his he wouldnt be used as often as he will in Milwaukee?  

 

Thomas Bryant?  Conceptually he fit better than Zu but none of us are behind the scenes.  It could be the dude just sucks at the NBA level.  They've hit on a lot of good with signings and drafting.  Give the front office a chance to figure it out.  Maybe a trade for a quality big comes up midseason and shores up the bench.  If Svi turns out to be a rotation player KCP could net a solid big.  

 

All I'm saying they're not going to figure out everything this early.  The same team that is suiting up now isn't going to be the same team in March EVEN if it's the SAME PLAYERS.  

 

If we are banking on Mo Wagner to play 20-30 mins a game as a defensive center, we will have much bigger problems to worry about than anything I described in the OP.


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"Blake and Parker are good at canceling each other out till our bench point guard comes in"  - Majesty aka Bird Ish (12/4/13)


#13 bfc1125roy

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 03:27 PM

A backup C is a need but it's debatable if there were any legit options that were going to sign. 

 

Too often these conversations are from the perspective of what the team should do or what they control, but what about what the player should do or what they control?  A lot of us were puzzled Brook wasn't resigned but what if Brook didn't want to come off the bench?  Play on a team where his he wouldnt be used as often as he will in Milwaukee?  

 

Thomas Bryant?  Conceptually he fit better than Zu but none of us are behind the scenes.  It could be the dude just sucks at the NBA level.  They've hit on a lot of good with signings and drafting.  Give the front office a chance to figure it out.  Maybe a trade for a quality big comes up midseason and shores up the bench.  If Svi turns out to be a rotation player KCP could net a solid big.  

 

All I'm saying they're not going to figure out everything this early.  The same team that is suiting up now isn't going to be the same team in March EVEN if it's the SAME PLAYERS.  

 

If McGee can play 30 mins a game, I would use the other 28 as small ball time. LeBron could be pretty nice at the 5, but I'm not sure how much energy he wants to expend there. 

 

I would use Zubac, but I don't think we will get even 5 serviceable minutes from him



#14 Jody Smokes

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Posted October 03, 2018 - 06:34 PM

McGee is never ever going to be an effective player at that amount of minutes.  He's also never played more than 27mpg and that was about 6-7 seasons ago.  Until they see what they have in Wagner I see it going something like this Javale 20, Beasley 20, Kuz/Bron 8 minutes at the 5.  

 

If McGee can play 30 mins a game, I would use the other 28 as small ball time. LeBron could be pretty nice at the 5, but I'm not sure how much energy he wants to expend there. 

 

I would use Zubac, but I don't think we will get even 5 serviceable minutes from him


"Blake and Parker are good at canceling each other out till our bench point guard comes in"  - Majesty aka Bird Ish (12/4/13)


#15 GCMD

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Posted October 04, 2018 - 12:31 PM

We can fix everything wrong with our offense with a few simple fundamentals that have to be worked constantly in practice, much like the "Shell Drill" is for younger kids.

 

First, we have too many on-ball P&Rs.  We have to start getting the ball to players like Ingram and LeBron as they come off a down screen, curl or fade instead of trying to drive and kick and having players attack a closeout.

 

Second, we have to DRILL DRILL DRILL these principles:

 

1.  If you're not dribbling, you are setting a pick or coming off a pick...no more standing around calling for the ball.

2.  If you want to receive a pass, you V-cut, you come off a pick or you set a pick.

 

May sound like the same things but believe or not, you have to tell people these things.

 

We are on the right track.  We are sharing the ball and are trusting each other offensively.  All we need to do is do the little things that make basketball EASY and we will be fine.

 

Luke is doing a good job.  I have zero problems with how he's coaching this team.  Sorry I didn't expound on these principles...most are ubiquitous in motion based offenses...


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#16 dbtbandit67

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Posted October 04, 2018 - 12:41 PM

OP: You're right about everything you said, however, we're not going to get "Triangle Offense LeBron" or "Doomsday Defense Lakers" pretty much.... ever

That's not what anyone is expecting. That is literally not what anyone wants either. Eat popcorn with me and enjoy the dunks

 

Luke is the right coach for this team at this time. Would you rather have tough guy Fizdale screaming at Lonzo and Kuzma about defense? We're also utilizing Javale correctly. He is really the only big we can play for significant minutes, although boy we're gonna end up breaking him Hideo Nomo style trying to play him 30 minutes a game or somewhere even close to that, he was never meant to be that guy. Rob Pelinka needs to take off the skinny jeans, put them over his head instead, and get us a young athletic shot blocker with adequate fundamentals.

 

The Lakers adjusted correctly in the 2nd game over the Nuggets, pushing the ball down the floor constantly, taking advantages of mismatches, kind of the way our Olympic team is looking to score over a less athletic team for about 65-70% of the possessions. The other 30% of the time, we're still not quite there yet, although the "High-post LeBron to a cutting Ingram" play we're running seems to be money right now. In time I bet we'll see more LeBron offball cuts to the basket, similar to he was doing in Miami.

 

Try not to overthink it. We need more bigs. I get it, I get it, the 4 and 5 nowadays need to be able to shoot, and need good floor awareness, and need to be athletic studs. But they are still a 4 or a 5 at the end of the day, Luke and Pelinka are taking the whole "positionless basketball" thing a bit too far.



#17 GCMD

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Posted October 04, 2018 - 01:15 PM

Try not to overthink it. We need more bigs. I get it, I get it, the 4 and 5 nowadays need to be able to shoot, and need good floor awareness, and need to be athletic studs. But they are still a 4 or a 5 at the end of the day, Luke and Pelinka are taking the whole "positionless basketball" thing a bit too far.

 

I agree with everything except this.  People who cite "positionless basketball" often do it incorrectly.  1-5 is used to help designate a set of skills that's required within a play.

 

If KAT has the requisite skills to be the 2 in a particular play, meaning he can shoot the outside shot, curl or cut (for example), you can run the play with him in that role.  The fact that we have players who have those skills and can be utilized in to create a mismatch which the defender will struggle to contain is what makes it "positionless".

 

Does that mean KAT isn't a 5?  No...that's a complete oversimplification.

 

Luke, Magic and Pelinka have assembled a cast that they can play at multiple positions allowing us to create a LOT of different lineups that can matchup with lots of different teams.  That's a good thing.  Just hope we figure out the best lineups for us fairly quickly.  We don't need a slow start and we don't need to rely too heavily on LeBron.


Edited by GCMD, October 04, 2018 - 01:15 PM.

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#18 Jody Smokes

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Posted October 04, 2018 - 02:01 PM

Good post.  The most glaring weakness is the fact the team doesnt have a backup big body.  The problem is there weren't really any available to sign.  There are some guys on the market now almost none of them are good at anything the Lakers want. Lucas Noguira has some rim protecting ability but he's pretty much bad at everything else.  

 

We just gotta hope Zubac comes around.  They are going to need a big body to throw at Adams, Embiid, Aldridge and the like when it's time. 

 

I agree with everything except this.  People who cite "positionless basketball" often do it incorrectly.  1-5 is used to help designate a set of skills that's required within a play.

 

If KAT has the requisite skills to be the 2 in a particular play, meaning he can shoot the outside shot, curl or cut (for example), you can run the play with him in that role.  The fact that we have players who have those skills and can be utilized in to create a mismatch which the defender will struggle to contain is what makes it "positionless".

 

Does that mean KAT isn't a 5?  No...that's a complete oversimplification.

 

Luke, Magic and Pelinka have assembled a cast that they can play at multiple positions allowing us to create a LOT of different lineups that can matchup with lots of different teams.  That's a good thing.  Just hope we figure out the best lineups for us fairly quickly.  We don't need a slow start and we don't need to rely too heavily on LeBron.


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#19 GCMD

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Posted October 04, 2018 - 04:30 PM

Good post.  The most glaring weakness is the fact the team doesnt have a backup big body.  The problem is there weren't really any available to sign.  There are some guys on the market now almost none of them are good at anything the Lakers want. Lucas Noguira has some rim protecting ability but he's pretty much bad at everything else.  

 

We just gotta hope Zubac comes around.  They are going to need a big body to throw at Adams, Embiid, Aldridge and the like when it's time. 

 

If we could land a legit rim running, rim-protecting lob target, I think the sky's the limit.  If we can convince EVERYONE to gang rebound, set HARD SCREENS and run on misses and makes, we are easily a top 3 team in the West and possibly the entire NBA.  I like where we're going and what we have to work with.


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#20 LakeShow1o1

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Posted October 04, 2018 - 05:09 PM

It's evident that the interior defense has been lacking but I don't really see any move that can be made to patch up the issue.

It'll just come down to individual defense, effort, and hustle at this point.  Lonzo's presence, length, and overall defensive abilities may aid a tad bit, but it's a tough fix.

 

I think it goes to show how pivotal a guy like Draymond Green is towards a Warriors team.   Yes Klay and KD are above average perimeter defenders, but boy does he makeup for their lack of a rim protector.






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