After all, Mykhailiuk brought a skill (shooting) that the NBA was not only placing a constantly increasing importance on, but was also something that the Lakers were (and are still) severely lacking.
Early on, however, it didn’t look like Mykhailiuk was going to be able to bring that sorely needed shooting. In October, Mykhailiuk only made 20 percent of his triples. By November that number had risen to 36.4 percent, but that still wasn’t the type of knockdown flame-throwing he’d need to stay on the floor as a rookie.
But while Mykhailiuk has only gotten 15 attempts from behind the arc in December so far, he’s canned a clean 40 percent (six) of them. Four of those makes came against the Memphis Grizzlies, just one game after Mykhailiuk went 2-3 against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and his improving play in recent days has been enough to impress Lakers head coach Luke Walton.
Walton told reporters on the Spectrum Sportsnet broadcast after the win over Memphis that he wasn’t initially planning to give Mykhailiuk this big of a role, but he’s liked how the rookie has taken advantage of it:
“He got his opportunities again because people got hurt. I tell our guys all the time, your opportunity will come at some point, so make sure you’re ready. He kind of got thrown in there because of necessity, really, but he did a good job of hitting some shots in the last game and he did it again tonight, so he’s earning some more of those rotational minutes right now with his play.”
Mykhailiuk himself — as usual — was less impressed with his performance than others were:
Svi was asked about his shooting success.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 9, 2018
"It is what it is. Shooter shoot."
The Lakers (34.6 percent) rank 20th in the league in 3-point shooting, so Mykhailiuk being able to 1) keep this up and 2) stay on the floor would be a boon for their offense, which ranks 15th in the league while scoring 108.6 points per 100 possessions.
Some of this is skewed by garbage time, but the Lakers have been 1.3 points per 100 possessions better with Mykhailiuk on the floor than they are when he sits, and their offense has been over six points per 100 possessions better when he plays than when he sits, and he has the highest offensive rating of any Laker to play in more than six games. That would appear to demonstrate that even if he’s not hitting like he has in December, teams respect Mykhailiuk’s shot.
Mykhailiuk getting in the rotation due to injuries obviously isn’t something the Lakers were hoping for, but if he can jimmy a little more spacing free for the team’s cramped playmakers without the team losing much defensively, he’ll be able to get the type of minutes fans were hoping for back in July and make a much bigger impact than rookies generally get the opportunity to do on a playoff contender, both of which would bode well for his future.