The Los Angeles Lakers fell to 11-9 after a lifeless performance in Denver, continuing a month marred by tepid offense. The Lakers have just a 105.1 offensive rating in November, ranking 24th in the NBA over that time, somehow managing to have both LeBron James and a lousy offense at the same time.
Turnovers have been the main culprit. The Lakers have averaged 16.4 turnovers per game during November, a mark only exceeded by the Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and Atlanta Hawks. Let’s take a closer look at how that’s happening:
The Lakers’ worst offensive impulses have conspired to create an environment where the team doesn’t properly value possession of the ball. The team’s desire to run leads to wayward outlet passes that are intercepted. LeBron consistently makes high-risk, high-reward passes in half-court situations that have a slim chance of being completed.
Brandon Ingram’s point guard adventures are marked by ball-handling turnovers and poor decisions as a passer. Lonzo Ball often eschews open looks for himself and moves the ball to not-so-open teammates instead. And Kyle Kuzma’s frantic forays to the basket yield a mix of traveling violations, offensive fouls, and him getting stripped by a defender.
Luke Walton and his coaching staff have focused their efforts on the defensive end and have seen the fruits of their efforts, but they are paying the price for their offensive inattention. The Lakers rarely get beyond the first organized action in a play before it degrades to a simple high-ball screen, putting players in a position where every possession is determined by their decision-making prowess without much in the way of systemic assistance.
Beyond X’s & O’s, the team’s undisciplined approach towards taking care of the ball is an indictment of Walton as well. He consistently espouses the merits of doing so, but it’s time that he and the team devote their time and attention to the minutiae instead of being a passive observer to the problem like the rest of us.