Everyone knows the Los Angles Lakers have struggled since their 10-10 start, but some players have had more issues than others. Brandon Ingram has had a fine season so far for a 19-year old rookie, but he’s had issues converting his shots. Ingram’s true shooting percentage (which accounts for the added value of free throws and three-pointers) of 42.9 percent is the lowest among players in the Lakers’ rotation.
Offseason acquisition Timofey Mozgov has faced the opposite problem: he can’t get Lakers opponents to stop converting at such a high rate. Mozgov was brought in and touted for his verticality, but so far it hasn’t produced great results.
The Lakers have the worst defense in the league, and the team defends at their second best rate (“only” allowing 109 points per 100 possessions) when Mozgov sits. This is in large part due opponents converting at career-high percentages at the rim while Mozgov plays, finishing 61.1 percent of their shots at the rim when he’s in the game, which is the fourth-worst mark in the league among seven-footers who start consistently.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton isn’t stressed about that stuff, though, because he knew the Lakers weren’t going to be a dominant team right off the bat:
Luke Walton on Lakers’ struggles: “We knew when we signed up for this that is what not gonna be easy and not gonna be quick”— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 4, 2017
Luke Walton: “the group we have will continue to work no matter what the results are” #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 4, 2017
Luke Walton: “If he wasn’t a hard worker” I’d be worried about Brandon Ingram’s poor shooting #Lakers— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 4, 2017
Luke Walton on Timofey Mozgov: “We’re fine with the way he’s playing.” #LakeShow— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) January 4, 2017
Luke Walton said Timofey Mozgov has been "up and down." What basketball player does that not apply to? It's a game dependent upon jumping.— Bill Oram (@billoram) January 4, 2017
Mozgov’s struggles are reason for slightly more concern than Ingram’s given that he’s in the first year of a gargantuan deal at age 30, but Walton is probably right that it’s not time to freak out about the Lakers just yet. The team’s early season success threw expectations out of wack, but this was never expected to be a good team. The Lakers (and by extension, Ingram) need a few years to marinate and gel as a team under a new head coach, and it sounds like Walton isn’t losing sight of that process.