Why I Criticize Luke's Offense: A Sample From The Bucks-Lakers Game

Discussion in 'Lakers Discussion' started by bfc1125roy, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    Grab some popcorn everyone, because this one's going to be a long post. Since our second preseason game this year, I've criticized Luke Walton's offense for being uninnovative, and most importantly not putting our players in a position to succeed. The schemes are extremely basic, and ultimately we were outclassed by a much more efficient Bucks team. Over the course of this season, with Cranjis, LFR, and Magic himself giving Walton some heat for his terrible offense, some people have come around to realize that while our defense is bad, our offense is no better. And we need a significant change in our game planning if this team hopes to make the playoffs. While much of the media and our fanbase gives Luke the excuses of injuries, no shooters, etc. I'm going to show you why none of that has a bearing on the basis of my argument: that Luke and his assistants do not do a very good job with designing this offense.

    The majority of Luke's offense is focused around trying to push the ball and create fast breaks whenever possible. Given the average age of our roster, this is largely a good thing. However, at some point, especially when playing good teams, we will need to execute in the half court, and this is where he largely falters.

    The best thing to do would be to put our scorers and playmakers (LeBron, Rondo, Ingram, Kuzma) in positions where they can get an easy basket or create one for others. Instead, Luke shows he is unable to run an offense thats even as deep as what most high school teams are pulling out these days.

    I'm going to take a sample of the third quarter of last night's game, right around the time the Buck's made a run, and show you why we had a difficult time keeping up.

    Some of these are situations where our individual talent (i.e. LeBron, Ingram) was still able to generate a positive outcome. That should NOT be the conclusion of this. Rather, we need to be examining the QUALITY of the play. If we just give LeBron the ball and tell him to attack, he can create something 50% of the time. But if we set LeBron up in the high post and gave him multiple split cuts to hit for a pass, for example, he would be able to get something maybe 80-90% of the time. So before you salivate over Ingram's ability to attack the rim from half court, consider this fact.

    Let's start with the first play...

    [​IMG]

    The Lakers try to run a double ball screen. Bullock sets the first screen, but the defender goes under the screen and keeps up with Rondo, essentially rendering no advantage from the play for the Lakers. LA should be prepared for this coverage every time Rondo is involved in the PnR, as the defense is not afraid of him pulling up from 3. On the second screen, Kuzma doesn't even make contact, again creating 0 advantage for LA. At this point, Rondo gets trapped in the paint, and the LeBron cut is well covered by Giannis. Rondo is forced to kick it out to Ingram who catches it almost at half court with 10 seconds left on the clock. He has no help here, and is forced to create something out of nothing. He settles for a contested, fading away jumper that bricks.

    Second possession:

    [​IMG]

    There's no real play here. The Lakers get it to LeBron who has to just blindly attack and gets stripped going into the teeth of the defense. Luckily, the Lakers are bailed out with a foul call, but it's not one we would get late in the 4th. The only positive here is that they at least get it to him at the pinch post, where he's closer to the rim and has an easier time. But again, they don't create an advantage for him. No meaningful off ball movement by anyone else on the team, either.

    Third play:

    [​IMG]

    This is another PnR with LeBron and Bullock. Remember, the high PnR is the play defenses are the MOST prepared for, and it shows here. Giannis knows LeBron isn't fast enough to quickly pull up with a little space (unlike say, Curry), so he's able to get around the screen pretty easily. From there, again with NO advantage (notice the theme?) LeBron tries to attack the basket with some momentum, and is again stripped.

    Fourth play:

    [​IMG]

    The Lakers actually run a decent play here and they desperately need a bucket, but they are clearly not well coached. Bullock is supposed to come off two screens here and get an open look at a 3, but neither of the screens make any significant contact, so his defender can stick with him and the play blows up. Their back up plan is... you guessed it! High PnR, with Kuzma and Rondo. Kuzma sets a good screen, but Mirotic is more than able to contain Rondo's desperate attempt at an attack. As a result, the play blows up, and we go to our second back up plan... which you probably guessed as well: ISO! This time, it's LeBron catching the ball on the perimeter with 6 seconds left on the clock. He drives against Giannis, and again gets bailed out by a whistle that the refs will likely swallow in the fourth.

    In contrast, let's watch how the Bucks run the EXACT same play not too long after:

    [​IMG]

    Watch how Snell makes great contact on his screen and anticipates Ingram's movement. He prevents him from contesting and as a result the Bucks get a good look at a 3. This is the difference between how a well-coached team executes, versus one that is clearly lost.

    Fifth play:

    [​IMG]

    This sequence clearly illustrates the Lakers really have no direction out there on offense. They just stand around till KCP decides he wants to go screen someone with 14 seconds left on the clock. He then decides last minute he doesn't feel like it, only to go back and screen again, at which point LeBron's fed up, and passes to Muscala who takes a contested 3 and bricks it. This one also lead to a transition baskets for the Bucks on the other end.

    Sixth play:

    [​IMG]

    This one was awful too. Ingram dribbles it up and just doesn't know what to do. He passes the ball to Rondo who's even more useless and just gives it back. At this point, he has nothing else to do but blindly attack the rim from the perimeter. Doesn't really get much of an advantage here and blows the layup.

    Seventh play:

    [​IMG]

    Here the Lakers again come up the court without a plan. KCP half heartedly tries to set the drag screen which does nothing. LeBron attacks the defense and draws Hart's man to help, but the Bucks are smart enough to know he's somewhat of a threat from 3 and rotate over quickly. Hart panics, and gives it up to LeBron who's smart enough to stay in the low post. He attacks and gets a very tough shot to go. Good outcome, but bad execution by the Lakers. They won't score like this consistently.

    One possession earlier, the Bucks run a similar play, but watch how they mix it up:

    [​IMG]

    Watch how the Bucks add a quasi-dribble handoff to occupy the defense a bit as the screen is being set. Hart actually plays this somewhat well, but is clearly hampered by his knees and not moving well laterally. This allows Connaughton to turn the corner and get to the basket. Again, just a simple mixup added to an otherwise trivial action. A good coaching staff will incorporate things like this to keep the defense on their toes.

    Eighth Play:

    [​IMG]

    The next time down, the Lakers decide to again go for the Ingram ISO. He attacks and it yields nothing, while everyone else just stands and watches. He kicks it out and with no other plan, the Lakers have nothing else to do and swing it back to him. Again, with limited time on the clock and Ingram out past the 3 point line, he again tries to attack, and draws the foul. Nobody bothered to help Ingram in this situation at all. Just bad preparation by the Laker's coaching staff.

    Ninth Play:

    [​IMG]

    This is the last Laker's halfcourt possession of the quarter. LeBron dribbles it up and Ingram decides to set a screen and then changes his mind and runs to the top of the key. This does little to bother the defense, and LeBron attacks before kicking it out to Ingram. The Bucks rotate well, but give Ingram room to shoot. Ingram takes the semi-contested look and knocks down his only 3 of the night. Nice shot, but again not something we can count on to consistently generate us baskets.

    Now you might be thinking, Mike Budenholzer is a pretty good coach -- what did he do to help the Bucks go on that run at the end of the third. Honestly, our defense was so bad, the Bucks had to do very little to simply have Bledsoe attack and create something (looking at YOU Rondo!). He didn't need much other than the occasional screen. This does not mean that we can get away with running such basic schemes, as most teams we will face from now until the playoffs will have much better defenses than what we showed during that game. And anyone who has watched the Bucks knows that Budenholzer has a lot in his bag of tricks, he just didn't need to overcomplicate it when the simple stuff was working so well. He also had lots of little mixups to toss in there when needed, to give the Bucks an edge when it mattered.

    Overall, you can see that once the Laker's initial action blows up, they have little to resort to other than a PnR or ISO. They show very little creativity in how the execute in the half court, relying on VERY thin playbook that centers around the high PnR, which is the play that teams are the most prepared for. While the Laker's individual talent is able to sometimes create a favorable situation from scratch, that is not a sustainable way to keep up with an offensive powerhouse of a team. Instead, the Lakers need to help their scorers and playmakers be in better positions to succeed. I hope the video evidence and breakdown shows that despite injuries and a lack of shooters, the coaching staff is doing little to help us win ball games.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
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  2. abeer3

    abeer3 - Lakers All Star -

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    this is good, but nowhere in there (except for at the very beginning) do you offer suggestions as to what should be done--it's just why stuff sucks.

    what offense do you run with rondo at pg shooting like he has?

    what if lebron is unwilling to play in the high post?

    what if our players simply refuse to set proper screens, much like they seem to insist on allowing back cuts. i find it hard to believe walton or his staff a) doesn't tell them to do the opposite or b) hasn't noticed these things.

    anyway, we're getting killed even worse on defense during this stretch that murdered the season, something we were excelling at for most of the year. i'm doubting that change had to do with a d******ed scheme switch (except for the brief return to kuz at center!) as much as key injuries and a general give-up by the vets on the squad.
     
  3. Kou

    Kou - Rookie -

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    Appreciate your in depth posts and the contributions you make to this forum.

    It makes as much painful watching again as it does live at times.
     
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  4. Khmrp

    Khmrp - Lakers All Star -

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    i think we all know how much everything sucks lol
     
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  5. abeer3

    abeer3 - Lakers All Star -

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    To be clear, I wasn't trying to criticize OP--I'm interested in what we should be doing.
     
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  6. ElginTheGreat

    ElginTheGreat - Lakers All Star -

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    Well getting guys motivated and competing is a start. That’s tough with vets but it can be done
     
  7. Savory Griddles

    Savory Griddles Moderator Staff Member

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    Great breakdown of our offensive issues. But despite all that, our offense scores enough to be a 50 win team. We scored 120 points on a couple occasions and lost by double digits. And playing good defense leads to more efficient offense because we can get into our sets faster with less time for the opposition to set up. I stood up for Luke for most of the season, but at this point, I can't anymore. Whether it's his X's and O's that are bad or the fact that the team just doesn't care about the X's and O's they're being given, it reflects poorly on his ability to be a leader of men.
     
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  8. lakerjones

    lakerjones Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep, he failed. He's gone and we pretty much knew that to be the case barring some miraculous turnaround in the playoffs.
     
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  9. vasashi17

    vasashi17 Moderator Staff Member

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    Solid take bfc....here's the thing, you want playmakers on your team as an option when the play stagnates and you're up against the clock. That's a luxury you can lean back on.

    What those clips showed was lazy ineffective screens, running through the motions with no sense of urgency and just poor execution overall. You need a coach to have the players take accountability of that s***.

    All that being said, Savs is right. We score enough (as inefficient as it is), but it's really the other end that needs work. If our offensive energy is that poor, then isn't it expected and likely that a young team has enough energy to then head to the other end to play with alot more of that unused energy on D?

    If you're going to half a** the offense (as seen in those clips) then you better go full donkey balls to the walls on defense.
     
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  10. Savory Griddles

    Savory Griddles Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah. So much of defense is effort. Yet we don't have any energy to do it? We should have full tanks when it comes to the defensive end since everything on offense is half speed and hoisting up the easy shot rather than working to get a better one.

    This is actually quite maddening if you think about it. We are able to score quite well despite how poor of an offense we run. That tells me we have an inordinate amount of offensive talent that is being utilized poorly. Shooting would help the offensive flow a little and help eliminate some of our stagnation, but at this point our offense gets by on sheer talent alone.
     
  11. Punk-101

    Punk-101 - Lakers 6th Man -

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    I forgot who it was (stumbled across a clips broadcast on am570), but a couple former players were talking about the psychology of poor offensive execution and specifically missing wide open shots (we're dead last in this stat iirc) leading to a lack of effort and focus on defense. It's no excuse, but they're human. Can't analyze offense and defense in a vacuum independent of each other.
     
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  12. lakerjones

    lakerjones Moderator Staff Member

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    We should fire Walton now. A loss to the Suns at this juncture was devastating (season ending), embarrassing and unacceptable.
     
  13. LakerFanIam

    LakerFanIam - Rookie -

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    We get almost no scoring from our backcourt.. Even when both Lonzo & Rondo are healthy.
    It's hard to run many offensive sets with a glaring hole in your backcourt like that.
    That's why Kyrie, Klay or Kemba should be at the Top of our FA list..
    If we're able to add a legit SG/Combo Guard, a lot of our issues will be solved, IMO.
    Right now, everything seems to be transition & ISO from the Wings.

    Oh, & our Defense is embarrassing.
     
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  14. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator - Rookie -

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    That’s sort of the scary thing. Apparently the excuse why our offense is bad is because Luke barely spent time on offense in training camp/preseason/practices and spends most of the time on defense.

    ... so why’s the defense so bad lol
     
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  15. RonStu

    RonStu - Rookie -

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    no fan should ever have to write such a long post about their team's ineptitude. Sorry bro
     
  16. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    I could have done this more clearly, but I did allude to some things to do differently. For example, I showed how the Bucks did a little prelude before setting screens up top to occupy the defense. For example, instead of the first play, you can run a 21 double instead - which Mike D'Antoni and Alvin Gentry invented:



    You don't want to involve Rondo in a high PnR out top, because the defense will go under the screen each time. Maybe instead, we can run a single side tag and get Bullock an open 3. Or, put Rondo at the high post and run a split cut on the strong side, like Cleveland does here:



    See the video above. He did it in Cleveland, and that's where he ran the least amount of offense actually. In Miami and in the first Cleveland run he ran a lot more structured offense. I don't think his unwillingness is an issue here, or at least it hasn't been historically.

    While watching the plays I posted, it's pretty obvious the Lakers are not on the same page. Look at their hesitation, setting screens one minute only to opt against it the next. There's no plan of attack. If they drilled these concepts in from training camp I bet the Lakers would be setting much better screens. It's on the coaching staff to ensure execution of the offense is second nature. If you know where your teammates are going to be, because you've practiced the play a thousand times, it's easier to know where to set the screen. That's why the Spurs, for example, can change their roster and still execute the same system seamlessly.

    Notice how in most of these plays everyone's standing around. When you're not involved in the offense, you're "juices" go down and you exert less energy on defense. Phil Jackson and Tex Winter preached this concept, and that's why in the Triangle they ensured role players at least touched the ball to make a pass. Luke got to be under both of these guys while in LA, so it's disappointing he didn't pick up on this fundamental concept.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
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  17. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    Sort of like I told @abeer3, our defense is bad because our players aren't involved in the offense. It's a concept Tex Winter and Phil Jackson preached. That's why a PnR heavy offense with everyone standing around doesn't work. It's also why the Warriors run some of the least PnR in the league. Watch this video where Kerr explains it in more detail:

    START at 6:10 ish
     
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  18. bfc1125roy

    bfc1125roy - Rookie -

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    See my reply to @Savory Griddles above.
     
  19. abeer3

    abeer3 - Lakers All Star -

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    yeah, i'm just not sure the personnel allow for great offense. too many non-shooters on the floor at all times to get meaningful player and ball movement, imo.

    but yeah, lakers have been near the bottom of the league in passes per game the last two years. only ahead of eyesore offenses like houston and okc this year.
     
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  20. Savory Griddles

    Savory Griddles Moderator Staff Member

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    The lack of shooting is an issue, but lately, we've had Bullock out there and Ingram has been hot from downtown too. Lebron keeps offense honest. Since we started Reggie Bullock we've had shooting in the starting five and it still doesn't matter. Obviously having more of it from the get-go would be more beneficial for consistency, but in the end we are not running any sort of offense. Now do I think Walton is a terrible coach? No. He has terrible assistants, but I think he could be a good coach in the league.

    There are so many problems with this team, the chief one being no one has anything invested except Lebron. All the kids know the AD saga will kick up again in the summer. All the mercenary vets are gone in a couple months. No one cares what happens to the Lakers long-term because everyone is playing for themselves and that next contract.
     

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