Lakers Offense Proving to Be a Huge Concern As They Fall to 3-17 on the Year


The Lakers have been criticized by fans and media alike for their poor and often embarrassing play this season

Currently, the Lakers are in last place in the Western Conference, their record is second worst in the NBA. In the end, it is unlikely that they will reach their record of last year which was the worst in the franchise’s history.

The misery that has become the 2015-16 season was recently masked by the feel-good story surrounding Kobe Bryant’s retirement. For the past few games it did not matter whether the team won or lost, or how they played, for the emotional farewell Bryant has received in arena after arena led to post-game smiles all around.

After Bryant made his announcement, coaches and players were no longer interrogated about the team’s poor performance, they were mostly asked puffball questions like, “What are your thoughts about Kobe’s retirement” and “What have you learned from playing with Kobe?” For a few games, no one cared how many minutes Bryant played or if it was good for the team and for Bryant himself.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The team’s latest loss to the Pistons was so embarrassing that it was a jarring reminder of just how bad this team is and how clueless the coaching staff is to try to make things even a little better.

As has become the trademark of this team, the Lakers came out flat and for all intents and purposes the game was over after the first few minutes – the Pistons jumped out to a 15 to 0 lead.

Is it too much to ask for the team to show some passion and energy to start their games? The Lakers showed no fight at all, and the final score, 111 to 91, made the game seem closer than it actually was.

More from Lakers News

Although far more attention has been paid to their lousy defense the past two seasons, the reason the Lakers have won three games and lost seventeen is because of their terrible offense. It is no secret why the Lakers finally won a game recently against the Wizards:  They scored more than a hundred points for the first time since the fourth game of the season and shot 48 percent from the field for the game.

This is in contrast to most nights when they struggle to score 90 points and shoot under 40 percent as a team.

Their leading scorer is Bryant, who is averaging a mere 16 points per game while taking far more shots than anyone else, shooting 30 percent overall and 20 percent from three point range. His replacement at small forward, Nick Young, started well but then regressed and was benched recently in favor of Metta World Peace who is making only 34 percent of his shots.

When the season started everyone said the Lakers did not need much offensive production from the center position and sure enough, they are getting little. Roy Hibbert is averaging only 7.7 points per game. There is no back-up center, so that is all the points the team is getting from the position. Brandon Bass, a power forward, replaces Hibbert when he is out, but he only averages five points per game.

Off the bench, Nick Young and Lou Williams were expected to score in bunches but it hasn’t happened. Young has now been benched and his future with the team is again in doubt, and Williams is only connecting on 36 percent of his shots and 28 percent from three point distance, which is actually an improvement from earlier this season when his stats were even lower. Against the Pistons, he scored 21 points so perhaps his game is on the upswing.

D’Angelo Russell is improving, and in particular he is shooting a bit better from the outside, but thus far he has not shown the quickness or aggressiveness to get to the rim and his attempts to do so usually end with a turnover or badly missed shot. Whenever a team’s point guard is not penetrating and either finishing himself or dishing to others for an open shot, that squad will have a big problem in the modern NBA.

More from Lake Show Life

In sum, aside from Jordan Clarkson who was terrible against the Pistons, the Lakers are shooting poorly from the outside and are not scoring much at the rim either. Anthony Brown might help improve the outside shooting, but for some reason which has never been explained, Scott thinks so little of Brown after starting him the last five games of the preseason that he does not even dress for the games.

Combined with the fact that the team leader in assists is Bryant who is averaging fewer than 3.5 per game, it is easy to see that the Lakers are not moving the ball and when the do shoot they usually miss.

There has been signs that the Lakers’ defense has improved since World Peace and Bass began to play so much, even though they contribute little on offense. The overall statistics do not lie, however, as Lakers opponents have scored over 100 points in 15 of their 18 games, and in two others, they scored just under a hundred points.

The options on this team are limited, so Brown needs to be given a chance. So, too, does Tarik Black, who will do everything as well as Bass but will likely score more points. It might be worth giving Marcelo Huertas a try as well.  He won’t score a ton of points but he can penetrate and is a good passer, and that may lead to more points from the second unit.

The Lakers are said to be playing the Princeton Offense, which has been largely disproved as a viable offensive approach in today’s NBA. Curiously, when Mike Brown was fired, most blamed the fact that he insisted on playing the Princeton Offense which was said to be outdated, yet no one criticizes Scott for doing the same. It did not work under Brown, it has not worked under Scott, and it should be scrapped in favor of a more modern approach that better suits the personnel the Lakers have on their squad.

Of course, most nights it is not clear what offense the Lakers are actually playing because they just look disorganized and chaotic. Isolation basketball does not work anymore, and that has been the team’s primary approach to playing offense. In the most recent game against the Pistons, they had a mere three assists in the entire first half.

There has to be spacing and the ball has to move until someone gets an open shot. Until the Lakers learn to play that way, and become proficient at it, they won’t score enough points to win most nights.

The coaches need to design an offensive system that takes advantage of the skills the current roster possesses, instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. There also needs to be even more emphasis on youth. Randle, Russell and Clarkson are generally playing more, but the rotations are inconsistent.

For example, the other night Clarkson was benched for most of the fourth quarter while the team was trying to overtake the Hawks. This kind of thing happens far too often with Scott as head coach.

Larry Nance Jr. could play even more minutes, and the decision to keep Brown in a suit and tie and Black on the bench makes no sense. Both have potential to help improve the offense, and there should not be any significant loss on the defensive side.

Further, someone will have to explain why the front office kept Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly on the roster if they were not going to play, while younger players with a possible future, Robert Upshaw and Jabari Brown, were cut.

In the end, defense is very important, but at this stage the Lakers are losing because they go through regular periods – often at the start of games and/or late in the third quarter – when they just can’t score. Right now the biggest problem is their offense, and until there is real improvement on that end, there is little hope of finishing anywhere other than at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Next: Nick Young Ejected for Shoving/Fighting Anthony Tolliver

What do you think about the current state of the Lakers? Let us know in the comments below.