Want to know which direction your Lakers are headed? Then this is the place to be. We now present our new "Lakers Trends" series. Each week we will update the following information to provide our loyal SSR readers with the current state of the Lakers and how they are trending. (Hat tip to the Basketball-Reference website for providing all of the statistics.)
The following trends focus on the "Four Factors" and the overall offensive and defensive ratings. For those unfamiliar with the Four Factors, Dean Oliver (author of Basketball on Paper and pioneer in advanced basketball statistics) determined that the four factors to basketball success were (in order of importance):
- Shooting – Field Goal % adjusted for the added value of three point shots
- Turnovers – Percent of possessions resulting in a turnover
- Rebounding – Percent of available rebounds grabbed
- Free Throws – Ratio of free throws taken to field goal attempts
These Four Factors combined produce a team’s offensive and defensive ratings (points per 100 possessions). It is these aforementioned statistics that we will be tracking and presenting weekly.
Each statistic will be presented in a two-dimensional graph with the defensive statistic on the vertical axis and the offensive statistic on the horizontal access. The better the defensive statistic, the higher up the chart a team will be. The better the offensive statistic, the further right a team will be. The best teams will be located in the upper right and the worst in the bottom left. To aid in this presentation we have colored the background of the chart so that the best teams will be those in the red areas (think red hot) and the worst will be in the blue areas (think ice cold). In addition to plotting all teams on the chart, we will also be tracking our beloved purple and gold throughout the season to see which direction they are moving. These initial charts show the change from week 1 to week 2 via the dotted white line.
So without further ado, on to the trends…
Effective Field Goal %
The implementation of Mike Brown’s new defensive scheme, along with the infusion of new players who offer no shortage of hustle, has placed the Lakers amonth the league's best in defensive eFG%. They were sitting atop the list after week one but slipped to number three this week following a poorer defensive effort against Portland. Offensively the Lakers moved from a just below average to a just above average shooting team on the heals of last night's win over Memphis. The Lakers size and skill level in the post will always keep them above average here. If they could consistently hit threes they would quickly shoot up to one of the leagues most efficient shooting teams.
If the Lakers have an achilles heal on both sides of the ball, turnovers is certainly it. The Lakers began the season as a poor turnover team and this week they further cemented their status near the bottom. The Lakers have never been a team to force a large number of turnovers. They focus on funneling defenders into their bigs and contesting shooters. They don't have the speed or athleticism to play passing lanes. Finding them at the bottom on the defensive side is not a surprise. The offensive end however is another story. The Lakers are usually a team that rarely turns it over, primarily because they are veteran team that knows how to value possessions. Unfortunately, with the familiarity of the triangle gone and the increased workload placed on Kobe and his weaker wrist, the Lakers find themselves at the bottom of the standings here. Their turnover problems were especially evident in last night's 27 turnover game against Memphis.
Rebounds continue to be the area of complete dominance for the Lakers. With Andrew Bynum's return to the line-up the Lakers have quickly moved into the spot as the 2nd best rebounding team in the league. The length of the Gasol and Bynum front line simply too much for most teams to handle. Add in the above average rebounding abilities (for their respective positions) of Kobe Bryant and Matt Barnes and the Lakers can pencil in a rebounding advantage virtually every night. As long as the Lakers remain healthy, they should enjoy an advantage like this all season long.
Free Throws to Field Goal Attempts
What a difference a week makes. After the first week of the season the Lakers found themsleve in the position of having a large free throw disadvantage. Offensively the Lakers are usually just above average at getting to the line but are excellent at avoiding fouls. The first week of the season the Lakers were a scrappy team that was fighting hard on defensive but was also sending the opposition to the charity stripe too often. When Bynum returned the Lakers once again thad their twin-towers back. The perimeter players could once again funnel the opposition into the Lakers huge size and contest without fouling (like they did all of last year). On offense the lakers had another, more physical presence with which they could dump the ball into. Bynum puts a lot of pressure on the opposition because they have to choose to either give up easy shots near the rim or put him on the line. He can't be bodied away from the rim and doesn't shy away from contact like Gasol did during the first week of the season. With Bynum back, the Lakers once again have a free throw advantage.
Offensive and Defensive Rating
The Lakers offense improved slightly from week 1 to week 2, moving from just below average to just above average. Assuming they eventually correct the turnover issues and begin to make threes, they should quickly move further right and into the top 10 or even top 5. Defensively they slipped a little this week, particularly with the aforementioned game in Portland, but still remain a top 10 team. They should maintain a top ten status all season and gradually improve as everyone become more familiar with the new defensive system that Mike Brown has implemented.
Finally, a quick acknowledgement should go out to pslakerfan who began putting together a very similar exhibit on efficiency and tracking it weekly in our Fanpost section. Our SSR members are truly a knowledgable group and contribute significantly to this excellent site. We thank you all.