With Monty Williams agreeing to a five-year deal with the Phoenix Suns on Friday morning, Ty Lue is the odds-on favorite to be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Lue’s superior tactical abilities and prior success with LeBron James made him the right choice all along, despite the organization’s sensitivity to the perception that hiring him would be indicative of an outsized degree of control that James would have over the organization.
In part one of this series I took a closer look at Lue’s spacing principles, and this video addresses one of the primary ways that he applies them — via spread pick and rolls. These simple but effective formations require minimal time to set up, making it an ideal set after defensive rebounds.
The sophistication of Lue’s sets are often not in the player or ball movement, but in an understanding of how to use what the defense is doing against them. Lue uses deception and misdirection to change screening angles and put defenders in pick-your-poison situations:
Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram’s development over the summer will determine to what degree they can participate in these spread pick and rolls. Ball makes fantastic passing reads, but these plays will require him to put the initial pressure on the defense as a scorer to open up those passing lanes. Ingram has the opposite problem, where he can score off of ball screens, but often misses passing reads. If either of them can address those issues this offseason, James will have a partner who can share these duties with him, even if the Lakers strike out in free agency. Both players have shown flashes of potential in their areas of weakness.
The Lakers need shooters, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. LeBron shot 33 percent on 3-pointers off of the dribble this season. Lonzo shot 32.4 percent on those. Brandon Ingram took five of them the entire season. This shared inefficiency amongst the three most important ball-handlers on the team requires that the Lakers either move one of them (not my preference at all) or surround them with shooters.
This is especially critical with the big men on the roster, so Lue’s spread pick and rolls aren’t neutralized by drop coverages. Centers who can defend the rim and rebound on one end of the floor while providing a credible three-point threat on the other are few and far between, but the Lakers should go out of their way to pursue someone who fits that description. Dewayne Dedmon would be a good, cheap option.
In part three of this series, I’ll address a common point of contention regarding Lue’s offense — the notion that he just gives the ball to LeBron and little else.