Remember that time when Byron Scott said how he thought the NBA should remove the three-point line and also go back to using peach baskets instead of hoops? I’m paraphrasing here, but with the way the Lakers attacked the game last season, that line of thinking may not be that different from what was actually going on in Scott’s head. Then this year happened, and suddenly the Lakers are chucking up more treys than any team that doesn’t have Marshall Henderson.
Of course I understand that as of this writing (November 2, 2015) Los Angeles has only played three games, but this new Lakers offense could really be something to be excited about, at least in terms of the process.
In 2014-15, the Lakers averaged 18.9 3-point attempts per game, good for 25th in the league.1 So far in 2015-16 the team has chucked 34.3 attempts. That’s 38.6% of their total field goal attempts, a number that’s also tops in the league. Again, it’s only three games, but that’s too much of a difference for it just to be a sample size anomaly. It isn’t necessarily working for them, the team is only shooting 29.1% from beyond the arc, but considering that three is more than two, this could be a good sign for the team this season.
The only player shooting well from outside is Nick Young. He’s sitting at 50%.2 But guys like Kobe Bryant (20.7), Lou Williams (26.3), and Ryan Kelly (14.3) are all well below their career averages. I’m not projecting any of those guys to have career shooting years, but they should definitely do better than they’ve done up to this point.
Part of the reason why the shooting percentage could be so low is the lack of assists. Marcelo Huertas is leading the team in assists with only 3.0. That’s a problem. Their 13.7 assists per 100 possessions is only better than the Jazz, Suns, and Sixers.3 86.7% of the threes they’ve made have been assisted, which is about league average. But only 20.7 of their attempts per game have been in a catch and shoot situation. That means they’re taking nearly 14 pull-up threes per game. That’s fine if you’re Steph Curry, but unfortunately, D’angelo Russell isn’t quite there. The Lakers are 37.1% on catch and shoot threes. That’s a solid number. But it also means that they’re shooting 16.9% on pull-up threes. Eek. But by fixing the sort of threes their taking and keeping the volume up, the Lakers process could start turning into solid results.
It’s worth noting that this abundance of threes hasn’t hurt their ability to get to the line. Many times when teams start “chucking” they’re missing out on valuable free throw attempts, but like the Rockets have shown us, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. The Lakers have scored 23.3% of their points from the line, which is fourth best in the league.
Really, this is the way the Lakers offense will have to play if they want a chance at winning anything this year. Beyond Hibbert, there are hardly any positives on defense, and even Hibbert is a shell of what he once was. This team is going to have to score and score in bunches. It’ll help if they’re using the offense to get higher-quality spot up shots from range, but that’s a very doable thing for a team built around so many guards. Still, this page out of the Rockets playbook is a solid one. No matter how much it pains Byron Scott’s NBA sensibilities.