The Dunkyard’s 2016-17 season preview continues with the LA Lakers.
Last season by the numbers
- Record: 17-65 (29th)
- Offensive rating: 101.6 (29th).
- Defensive rating: 111.6 (30th)
- Pace: 95.6 (18th)
- True shooting: 50.9% (30th)
- Turnover rate: 12.5% (10th)
- Offensive rebounding: 23.1% (21th)
- Defensive rebounding: 74.7% (24th)
- Giveashitameter: 11th.
- Highest PER*: 17.7 (Lou Williams)
(*) – minimum 1,000 minutes.
At a glance
(Converts the above rankings into a rating out of 10).
Last season, the Lakers showed what happens when you combine the league’s second worst offense, worst defense… and retirement year Kobe.
When it came to shooting, the Lakers were the league’s worst two point AND three point shooting team, which took some doing considering that the 76ers existed and were deliberately trying to stink. If the Lakers weren’t above average at getting to the line (8th on attempts) and hitting their foul shots (11th), then they would have been even further behind the rest of the league than they already were. As it stood, they were a full true shooting percentage point worse than the 76ers. Yuck.
Kobe was the main culprit, with an unbelievably horrid true shooting mark of 46.9% (58th out of 62 small forwards) and 21.5 field goal attempts per game.
And who was going to tell him that he was shooting too much?
While Kobe’s removal will certainly help things, Randle (TS 48.2%), Russell (TS 50.7%) and Clarkson (TS 51.6%) all have a very long way to go before they’re considered competent shooters (the league true shooting average is around 54%-55% by the way).
The only positive aspect of the Lakers’ offense was the turnover rate, which ranked 10th. However, this was largely due to the fact that you’d literally have to prise the basketball from Kobe’s cold, dead hands before he’d give up a shot.
It may sound impossible, but the Lakers were even worse on defense, ranking dead last in the league by a full point per 100 possessions. At face value, the Lakers’ perimeter defense looked half-decent enough, ranking 17th on three point attempts allowed and 11th on three point accuracy allowed at 34.7%. However, this was was simply because opponents could saunter through the keyway and have themselves a layup of their choice – as evidenced by the Lakers’ ranking 30th in two point field goals allowed and 29th in two point field goal percentage allowed. Indeed, why bother bombing a city if you can simply walk in and take it?
To rub things in, when opponents finally missed a shot, the Lakers were miserable at grabbing the board, ranking 24th overall.
Reasons to be optimistic
The Kobe sideshow is finally over, which means that the Lakers can finally hit rock bottom and rebuild properly.
On the court, Russell started putting things together as the season wore on and looks ready to improve again this season. He could turn into a perennial All-star yet.
Larry Nance Jr also looks like a nice find. While he’s already 23 years old and probably won’t end up as anything close to an All-star, digging up a solid rotation player like this (PER 13.4 – better than Russell’s by the way) with the 27th pick in the draft is always nice.
The Lakers already have a nice core of young players with potential in Russell, Ingram and Randle. Add another high draft pick or two to the mix, plus a willing star free agent and these guys could be downright scary before you know it.
Lastly, don’t sleep on Randle just yet. While he can’t crate a half decent shot to save his life, he’s a double double machine who ranked no. 1 among power forwards on defensive rebounding. He has some real heart and guys like that don’t grow on trees. If he can find a way to score reliably, then the Lakers will really have something as the rest of the pieces are more or less there: despite ranking 66th among 72 power forwards on true shooting, he was still able to post what was effectively his rookie PER of 13.9 (44th among power forwards).
Reasons not to be
They don’t have any shooters and won’t be able to defend a traffic cone. Want me to draw you a picture?
Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, Yi Jianlian, Thomas Robinson.
Kobe, Brandon Bass.
The Dunkyard’s recommended ‘death’ lineup
Even though the ‘Kobe Bryant Retirement Circus’ is over, I don’t think that will be the end of the drama in Lakerland. Despite the trauma of last season’s Snapchat scandal, the team heads into training camp with both Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell still on the roster.
New coach Luke Walton could have his hands full with a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding-level feud that will have him regretting his decision to ever leave the breast-fed comfort of Steve Kerr and Golden State. This is all before the young Gen Y nucleus of Clarkson, Randle, Russell and Ingram realise new teammate Timofey Mozgov gets paid $16m this season.
Forecast record: 20-62
Let’s not mince words here: the Lakers are going to suck terribly this season and probably the next one too.
Removing Kobe and adding Ingram will make a difference, but not much. In fact, this prediction could be entirely wrong and the Lakers could just as easily regress to 15 wins.
The Lakers are simply going to have to take their medicine.