What a busy week it was for our beloved Lakers. The greatest franchise in all of sports completed an exhausting 5 games in 7 nights. The week began with Kobe Bryant morphing into The Black Mamba and dropping 48 points on the poor Phoenix Suns. They continue to pay the price for knocking Mr. Bryant out of the playoffs twice, even if 90% of the team has since moved on. Kobe continued his brilliance over the following three games by eclipsing the 40-point mark each time. He looked like Kobe Bryant circa 2006. Then he, and the rest of the Lakers, succumbed to fatigue in the final game against Dallas. The game was nothing more than a battle of attrition as two of the oldest teams in the league looked simply to survive. It was old faithful Derek Fisher who came through at the end and carried the Lakers to victory in what is certainly going to be exhibit A for why teams shouldn't play 5 games in 7 nights. So what did this memorable (and then hopefully forgettable) week mean for the purple and gold in the statistics that drive success? Continue to the jump and find out as we look at the second installment of our Lakers Trends series.
Before getting to the data, let me quickly recap what this trends series is monitoring. We are monitoring the Four Factors (shooting, turnovers, rebounding, and free throws) that drive success on the basketball court. We measure these four factors both offensively and defensively and track the Lakers relative to the rest of the league. The simplest way to read the chart is "The Redder, The Better". For a more detailed explanation click here. On to the charts...
Effective Field Goal %
The Lakers saw a slight decline in their effective field goal percentage. Some solid shooting against Phoenix (50%) and Cleveland (52%) was quickly undone in the brickfest that was the Dallas game (37%). Defensively was an opposite story. The Lakers gave up an eFG% of 46% against Phoenix and that other team from LA, but Dallas only managed 39% and thus improved the Lakers overall defensive eFG%. The final net position considering offense and defense was a small improvement and the Lakers now find themselves as a top 5 team in most influential statistic for success.
Not much changed in the turnover department this week. The Lakers are not a team that forces turnovers. They don't have the athleticism to shoot passing lanes and they play intelligently by not gambling often. They will likely remain at the bottom of the rankings for defensive turnover rate all season. Offensive turnover rate however has been a big concern for the Lakers. Last year the Lakers were the 3rd best team in the league at not turning the ball over. This year they are one of the worst. With Steve Blake out the problem will be magnifide. Can you guess the two Lakers with the highest turnover rates (minimum 70 minutes)? The answer is Derek Fisher (20.1%) and Darius Morris (42.6%), our only two healthy point guards. Steve Blake, with his 13.3% turnover rate, will be missed. One solution may be to continue to go through Kobe Bryant, whose 11.9% leads the team as least turnover prone.
The fatigue factor is no more evident than in the rebounding numbers. The Lakers massive front line coupled with the above average rebounding abilities (for their positions) of Matt Barnes and Kobe Bryant put the Lakers at #2 in the league in rebounding. As the number of games played began to accumulate the Lakers started to loss some of their ability to dominate the glass. After beating Phoenix on the boards (not a difficult feat by any means), they battled Utah to a draw before losing out on glass in each of the next three games. The Lakers slipped back a little in rankings here. A few days of needed rest would likely fix this trend and turn it in the other direction.
Free Throws to Field Goal Attempts
Offensively not much changed for the free throw rate this week. The larger offensive role by Kobe led to more trips to the line but they came as a result of fewer trips to the line by Bynum. Given the difference between each players ability to convert once there, this is a positive for the Lakers. Defensively the Lakers are starting to come around. They are avoiding putting the opposition on the line and have moved into the top 5 in this category. Overall they now have a larger free throw rate advantage than last week, even if their relative ranking in the league slipped slightly.
Offensive and Defensive Rating
The Lakers experienced a significant change on offense this week. During the first two weeks of the season they played with a balanced output from the big three. This past week saw the balanced approach ditched for a more Kobe-centric offense. Prior to the Dallas game, the offensive output was actually more efficient this week than prior weeks. Unfortunately the Dallas game was so bad that all that positive momentum was lost and the Lakers actually fell back to a below average offensive team. Defensively they played at the same level as they had the first few weeks up to that same Dallas game. The entire improvement in the defensive rating this week can be attributed to the Maverick's inability to make a shot last night. In the end, the Lakers find themselves back in the same position they were at the end of week 1. They are a top 5 defense but a mediocre at best offense. Eventually the offense will improve. There is too much talent on this roster with the big three of Kobe, Bynum, and Gasol to not be at least a top 10 offensive team. Heck, Kobe Bryant circa 2006 carried a team with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown to a top 8 offensive rating. Is that too much to ask for?