Mar 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers small forward Metta World Peace (15) shoots a three in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Lakers’ Love Affair with the 3 Point Shot is Counter Intuitive

Typically, when someone is proficient in one particular area and weak in another, in order to be productive and successful in a particular endeavor you would stay with your strengths and avoid your weakness.

This is a blanket statement that is pretty vague, but, in general, it is a guideline that we all follow in most instances in life.

At home, if the husband is a horrible cook and the wife is as handy with an Allen wrench as a giraffe(they have hoofs) we know that the husband shouldn’t be making dinner for the family and the wife should stay the heck away from putting  together the Billy bookcase from Ikea.

In other words, do what you do well and not do what you don’t. It’s pretty simple, right?

Yet, this is what puzzles me about the current Lakers squad that is struggling to stay in playoff contention. They seem to be oblivious to the whole aforementioned Strength/Weakness paradigm.

Because of the Laker’s size and skill set of their front court, along with players like Kobe that are good from mid-range and at getting and finishing around the rim, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the best in the league at efficiency from everything below the 3 point line down.

The Lakers are 7th in the league in field goal percentage from 2 point range at 50.3%. Despite their proficiency within this range, only 69.8% of their shots are taken in this range, which ranks 28th in the league (3rd to last).

This is where it gets incredibly puzzling and disturbing is the number of 3 point shots the Lakers jack up per game.

The Lakers shoot 24.5 3-point shots per game – That’s the 3rd most in the league – and hit them at a rate of 35.5% that is good for a below average 19th in the league. The 3 point bomb accounts for 30.2% of the Lakers shot output per game which is the 3rd most in the league.

So to summarize:

Lakers really good at shooting 2s, but only 2 other teams shoot less in that area.

Lakers below average at shooting 3s, but only 2 other teams shoot more in that area.

Here is another puzzling thing that comes from the whole frequency of 3 point bombs from the Lakers squad, the Lakers are slow footed as a result of having aging players and two big 7 footers in their starting lineup. The Lakers are poor in transition defense because they just don’t have the young, athletic legs to get back to defend breaks. To support this point, The Lakers are 29th, that’s next to last place, in opponents’ fast break points at 16.0 points per game.

The Lakers strength is their strength and size at almost every position. These strengths are best taken advantage of in a slower pace game and in half court sets.

Their weakness is their lack of athleticism and speed. You mitigate their weakness here by again, keeping the game at a slower pace so their old legs are not put in a position to race younger legs down the court.

What does a shot from distance create, when it does not result in a made basket? They create long rebounds that can create fast break opportunities that can also increase the pace of the game. If you give a team that is athletic, like the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, the opportunity to run, they’ll take it and run you out the building. It is no coincidence that the Lakers are a combined 2-10 against these 3 teams.

Maybe I am thinking in too simple of terms. Take more 2s because your good at it and it keeps the game at slower pace and take less 3s because you’re not good at making them and missing so many makes the game too fast. That seems very simple but it makes sense, doesn’t it?

I know this isn’t the only problem with this current Lakers team that is struggling like nobody expected this season, but it is a problem and seems to have a very simple solution.

We have all heard the old saying: Live by the 3. Die by the 3. The Lakers are currently a very disappointing 41-37 record and with their playoff hopes on life support, they haven’t been doing a whole lot of living by the 3. If they continue to launch up 3s like they have and ignore their strengths, the Lakers will surely be yet another victim to die by the 3.


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