[OC] Shortcomings Of The Lakers Offense So Far

Discussion in 'Lakers Discussion' started by bfc1125roy, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    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 I've written extensively in the past about why that system was outdated, ineffective, and ultimately showed us how inexperienced Walton is as a coach.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 off ball. 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"
     
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  2. abeer3

    abeer3 - Lakers All Star -

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    i've been saying that the FA acquisitions didn't fit walton's philosophy--one the FO seemed committed to--all summer. they did a personnel pivot without the necessary tweaks to style of play.

    but yeah, two games in the preseason against a team returning its entire roster and system.
     
  3. sirronstuff

    sirronstuff LB Facebook Editor

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    I think if we just had another small forward, everything would be OK.
     
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  4. Barnstable

    Barnstable Supreme Fuzzler of Lakersball.com Staff Member

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    I read your post and I agree to somewhat that we aren’t running very good plays in the half court, but I can’t ignore the fact half the team is new, they’ve been doing mostly defensive drill work in training camp, and that these are only two preseason games. I understand you don’t want to hear that, but I think it’s too important a point to gloss over and it is central to your concerns.

    At this point the coaching staff hasn’t had much time to install anything, so offensively, I feel they have to go with what they, staff and players know, which is simple offense every player would understand and ran no matter what team they might have played on the year before.

    If we’re still running this same half court offense 20 games in I’ll be with you, but we need to give them time to actually teach the team some new plays and allow them to do so after getting a better feel for how all these new pieces fit with each other. From all of Luke’s comments, he likes to feel out what players like to do and implement plays based on that.
     
  5. LTLakerFan

    LTLakerFan - Lakers Legend -

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    As well until the end where the scrubs over passed the ball, the key guys out there had some fine ball movement going on in some great sequences. Which is a big part of any good offense. I forget if you didn't want to hear about Lonzo not being out there as an excuse. I think it was listed too. But if so that is just wrong. He's going to be a big plus when he's in there healthy. Just a fact.
     
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  6. therealdeal

    therealdeal Moderator Staff Member

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    This. The players and coaches have been adamant that they've only installed 2-3 concepts thus far. There's almost an entirely new roster. S*** takes time.

    I do think Lance and especially Beasley are just not great fits. Beasley cannot play small ball center. Lance dances too much and holds the ball too long which limits Kuzma's opportunities. At some point this season I believe both of them will be moved.
     
  7. lakerjones

    lakerjones Moderator Staff Member

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    The main offensive shortcoming I see: KCP shooting 16% overall and 12% from three. Time to wake up KCP.

    And I agree with realdeal, although I'm developing a soft spot for Beasley. I think he's really trying to fit and show he can be more than just a scorer off the bench. I'm already sick of Lance though. He's a ball stopper and very hard to watch.
     
  8. OX1947

    OX1947 - Lakers Starter -

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    Offense will be fine. When they started running and scoring at will, it made me extremely excited. Most excited I have been with Lakers basketball in a long time. Defense is what will be to be worked on throughout the year. That will take chemistry. Team looked good yesterday.
     
  9. lakerfan2

    lakerfan2 - Lakers All Star -

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    The thing I notice most about the main "core" of players, is the IQ and unselfishness of the play. This is even without too much time together, Bron, Rondo, and BI all seem to be on the same page, and McGee just plays within his role of being a target and protecting the paint. We still have Zo and Wagner coming back as well. Hart really should be starting instead of KCP, however.

    The bench is out of sorts with Lance handling the ball and not moving the ball. Kuz looks fine, just can't get into any rhythm with how the bench is currently constructed. That should change when Rondo goes to the bench or Zo gets worked back into the lineup from the bench to initiate the offense. I see no fit with Beasley on this team and will probably get waived at some point.

    My concern from first two games comes from playing small ball at the center position. Neither Kuz or Beasley are fit to play it, and I hope it doesn't continue. We're getting bullied offensively and on the glass in those instances. Wagner will probably ease into the that role, but I see him filling that spot for us well with his size and hustle.
     
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  10. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    I wouldn't be as concerned if it weren't mostly the same thing we were running last year. The high PnR, dribble weave, etc are the same concepts we used before and never changed. The only difference I see is less isolations, and it's partly because we're pushing the ball even more than last year. But when the PnR shuts down a good coach like Stevens will have a backup plan. Will be curious to see what ours is. Also, I would have hope dto see more experimentation with LeBron in the post, guys cutting off ball, and so on.

    I do think training camp is the time to work on a new offense. For example the Warriors changed their offense after Mark Jackson quite significantly in just one training camp. I will give Luke more time, but I don't like the direction this is going. Which is unfortunate, because there is a lot to be optimistic about.
     
  11. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    Why do you think KCP has shot 8 3s in the last two games, and only made one of them? It's partly a consequence of the offense, and a smart defensive team will have no problem helping off him on the weakside to clog the paint and prevent easy buckets.

    That type of an offense works if you have someone like JJ Redick sitting there licking his chops. But there's honestly smarter things we could be doing. I hope to see some more of it the next game.
     
  12. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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  13. abeer3

    abeer3 - Lakers All Star -

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    but it just really begs the question why we didn't use that cash on lopez and some other better-fitting part. beasley's the real head-scratcher to me. current nba wants guys who can handle and defend on the perimeter, and stephenson, for all his substantial warts, can do those things. beasley can't.

    imagine how much better the team looks with lopez right now.
     
  14. Punk-101

    Punk-101 - Lakers 6th Man -

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    I honestly can't understand this one. Lopez signed a 1 yr $3mil deal. Luke/Magic/Rob must be REALLLLLLY confident in this small ball center crap and/or Mo's secretly a HOF'r, cause Zu ain't gonna cut it. Maybe they plan of playing Javale 35+mpg? Kuz and Beas at center is a dumpster fire.
     
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  15. Purp n Gold

    Purp n Gold - Rookie -

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    @bfc1125roy I think the chemistry with new players and Lonzo being out can't be overlooked. They are real factors that contribute to how the team is currently progressing. Luke's shortcomings you listed are a part of it too, and I agree that if we don't see improvement in execution, he's due for criticism.

    and bball breakdown is nice and all, but he's been wrong. Remember this video?

    After that season, I kind of stopped paying attention to him.
     
  16. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    If we were botching sets that would be a different thing. But I see very little attempt to change what we did last year in the half court, other than pushing the pace more (which I like).

    Regarding bballbreakdown:
    • The videos I posted were 1) A segment of an interview with Kerr and 2) A guide to modern NBA PnR defenses. The latter is just discussing the idea of scram switching and pre-switching, both of which are very valid techniques that were used a lot during last years playoffs. My point here is just that better teams are going to be very well prepared to defend a simple high PnR, and I was just showing examples of that.
    • I've seen that video. He actually isn't wrong there... The Princeton offense, which we originally ran to start the season under Mike Brown, was generating decent shots. It was just that 1) We weren't running the sets properly since we hadn't gotten accustomed to it and 2) He was fired because our defense sucked. If you actually see his video about Mike Brown and the Lakers offense after this game out, you'll see video evidence of both of those things. Also injuries played a big part. Without getting too far off topic, I fundamentally still believe that our 2012-2013 team could have competed for a championship if they were coached properly. But then D'Antoni happened.
     
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  17. wcsoldier81

    wcsoldier81 - Lakers Starter -

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    We should be more worried about defense more than anything else and our FO didn't.

    They didn't keep Lopez (and his ability to protect the rim) just because he didn't fit our "run run run" philosophy .

    It's hard to run when you don't get stops ....

    I agree with abeer3 , this team would look MUCH better with Brook on this roster.

    Imagine the deep s*** we would be into if Javale get hurt ... and it's probably going to happen given his injuries history
     
  18. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    I don't think many think of Lopez as a rim protecting or defensive center. He averaged 4 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots a game last season, both of which were near career lows.
     
  19. therealdeal

    therealdeal Moderator Staff Member

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    You don't have to convince me. I was sure we'd use the last of the cap space on him, but we chose Lance and Beasley instead.

    I think the FO had their vision of small ball and they made it happen no matter what. They'll regret it during the season and may eventually sign another seven footer. I also think Wagner may end up being important accidentally almost. They drafted him for a reason, but he's our only hope on the roster of a backup Center.

    I also think there might be some smoke to the Davis stuff. The Lakers may be positioning themselves to make a run at him.
     
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  20. LTLakerFan

    LTLakerFan - Lakers Legend -

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    Maybe they had to promise Javale starter minutes and while Brook wanted to be here with an upgraded team he didn't want to come off the bench. Anyway it's stoopid to be in this kind of a pickle every time we face big physical front lines now, like Brook and Giannis coincidentally now. Yikes. No doubt they have hopes for Wagner in this regard.

    Hey what's the "Paint God" doing these days?

    :Magicwow4:
     

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