Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott has a completely retooled roster to work with, and a new directive from the front office to integrate into his coaching as they pour jet fuel into their analytics department. Scott sat down with Bill Oram of the OC Register for a wide-spanning interview that hit several subjects ranging from preserving Kobe Bryant, his thoughts on three-point shooting, and the growing presence of analytics within the organization.
The Lakers announced a front office overhaul centered around improving their analytics department going forward. Clay Moser was promoted to director of basketball strategy, while additional staff was also outlined in the press release. The organization has made a very public push to show they've worked on their in-house analytics after taking harsh criticisms from various reports over the last few years, with LaMarcus Aldridge's meeting being the straw that broke the camel's back.
One of Moser's responsibilities will be serving as the bridge between the analytics department and Scott, which is a crucial point in changing the Lakers' on-court product. Oram inquired about this new focus for the team, and here' s some of what Byron had to say:
Q. To what degree have you had to compromise on those issues? Analytics is becoming a bigger part of the organization.
A. I wouldn't say I had to compromise, it's basically for me, it's adding certain things to the element of us being a little more successful. The analytical part, like I said, I wasn't a big proponent in it, but Clay (Moser) is a guy who's kind of our go-between to make sure the analytical guys understand exactly what I want, and also to make us understand exactly what they're doing. He's kind of our buffer. Mark is a guy who knows it extremely well, so are we using a it a lot more this year? Absolutely.
Q. Are there areas you can say you'll be using it a lot more on the floor than last year?
A. Yes, absolutely. I won't go into those areas, but yes. ... We will use them with every player we have.
Scott's well-documented questioning of three-point shooting's effectiveness was also brought up, and while he acknowledged the value of the team being able to create and knock down outside shots that "are given" to them by the defense. Here's Byron's thoughts on three-pointgate from last summer, via Oram:
Q. Your detractors latched onto a few things you said last year, but particularly in preseason when you said 3-pointers didn't win championships. And that came up before the season, then we see Golden State win a title. Would you want to clarify that statement or revise it now?
A. No. Everybody wants to take, ‘Well he said...' Yeah, but if you are a 3-point shooting team in this league, you're No. 1 in the league, but you're last in defense, you won't win a championship. They were the No.1 offensive team and defensive team in the league. They were the best team. They deserved to win the championship. The only thing I would say, or extract from that, is you can be a great 3-point shooting team, but if you don't play defense, you won't win championships.
Q. What would it look like if you guys tried to play that way?
A. We're not going to play that type of style. We're going to take 3-point shots that are given to us on a consistent basis. We're not going to just come down and be launching 3-pointers. We have Lou who can make them, Jordan who can make them, Swaggy who can make them. Jabari (Brown). We have a number of guys - Ryan (Kelly) - who can make them on a consistent basis, but it's not going to be the focal point of our offense.
Q. Does it bug you when those comments come back and you hear that again and again? And the analytics stuff?
A. No. I'm not putting you in this category, but you guys got to find something. You've got to find something. 3-pointers, he said this, analytics, he said that. You've got to find something.
Suffice to say, maybe don't bring up three-point shooting with Byron. The Lakers offense was hamstrung for various reasons last season, but with a reshuffled deck, there's reason to believe the team's perimeter offense should improve.
The whole interview on OC Register is worth reading as Byron shares where's he's at heading into training camp.