Given the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s pretty hard to believe that they would hold their own in any recent cumulative analysis. However, statistics compiled by Casino.org since the year 2000 are a great reminder that things haven’t been bleak very long.
Per this data, the Lakers ranked second among all 30 teams for the most productive lineups, and have had the most effective offensive lineups of any organization over that time. This output was based on their offensive, defensive and net average point differential per 100 possessions over that time:
The second team for the overall greatest number of top-tier lineups over this period was the Los Angeles Lakers. They were tops on offense, but not quite tops as far as defense went, landing at No. 9 on our list. Over the last 18 seasons, they’ve had a lot of success in the postseason, including seven finals appearances and five championships.
Defense wins championships, my ass.
The kind folks at Casino.org also compiled the worst lineups since the turn of the century, and, well, let’s just say things haven’t been all rosy since 2000.
According to the data, the Lakers’ lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert is the worst lineup of the last 18 years (this current season was not included in the findings as it hasn’t ended yet) that played together for at least 250 minutes. This group yielded an unbelievably poor -25.1 net rating thanks in large part to Bryant’s farewell tour, a bunch of young players and Byron Scott... well, just being Byron Scott.
(Quick tangent: You could make a borderline indisputable argument that farewell-tour Bryant is the worst high-usage player ever just in terms of net impact on the court. Scott allowed him to play with a 32 percent usage rate, and with that he held a 47 percent true shooting percentage. On the season, his net rating was a staggering -18 — 113 defensive rating, 95 offensive rating. Thank goodness he wasn’t on a ridiculous contract and taking touches from players who needed opportunity to develop. That doesn’t diminish his career, but woof, that last year was bad outside of his incredible final game.)
Back to the point at hand, though, it says a lot more about how great Bryant was over the entirety of his career — and how stuffed with talent those championship teams he played on were — that the Lakers would still hold such insanely high rankings despite how pathetic they’ve been over the last six years or so (really, who’s counting?).
For all his faults late in his career, Bryant was an irreplaceable piece on some of the best teams ever. He, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and on down the line all deserve immense credit for being so good that the team still had the second-highest quantity of good lineups in spite of the team’s recent struggles.
To take even that a step further, the Lakers also took full advantage of that production by winning five titles since 2000. Compare that to, say, the Clippers — who ranked third overall behind the Lakers — and those five championships sure feel a helluva lot better than the Clippers’ zero banners hanging in Staples Center.
All this said, here’s hoping Bryant’s former agent and the rest of the Lakers can turn things around next season, so that as these numbers are continually compiled, they can right the ship and overtake San Antonio for best organization of the last couple decades.