Lakers have serious perimeter production problems with Portland

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers are lacking at the perimeter.

The championship formula in the modern NBA is far from a secret. In order to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end each June or in this unique case this coming October, there are a few overarching components necessary that the Los Angeles Lakers, and all NBA teams, strive towards.

Said aspiring teams need to build around two or three of the league’s premier superstars in this AAU-esque, teaming up culture within the league. They must then surround those special talents with ancillary floor spacing perimeter scorers.

On the flip side, they need guys who can sit in a stance and disrupt the abundance of perimeter scorers the league has to offer for 25 to 35 minutes a night on the defensive end of the floor.

Lastly, although interior post play is much maligned in today’s game, its value is not completely lost in trying to create a championship mix. A couple of productive rim runners in transition and rim protectors are key as well.

Right now, the Western Conference’s top seed, the Los Angeles Lakers, clearly has the two premier stars necessary in top five players LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They also have the proper interior production and rim protection from the aforementioned Davis, a bona fide defensive player of the year candidate this season.

In addition, the Lakers can compliment Davis’ D down low with one of a revitalized, former defensive player of the year in his own right in center Dwight Howard or another solid shot-blocker in JaVale McGee.

These are the type of things that make the Lakers one of the handful of legitimate title contenders in this unprecedented bubble playoffs. But, that was only two of the three vital championship ingredients. The glaring hole that should concern fans is clearly this team’s perimeter production, which has steadily been at a junior varsity level throughout play in sunny Orlando.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ woes from the perimeter:

Shooting woes continued for the men in purple and gold Tuesday night in Game 1 vs the Portland Trail Blazers as they shot 15.6% from three on an abysmal 5-32 from the field.

At the brutal expense of Lakers fans everywhere, Tuesday night’s starting wings on either end of the de facto point guard, engine starter, showrunner etc. in leagues assist leader LeBron, were Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Those two provided next to nothing offensively combining to shoot 4-21 from the field, 2-13 from beyond the arc, and combining for a -38 plus/minus. Meanwhile, the Lakers talented X-factor with great ability but a consistently inconsistent presence and a looming question mark in Kyle Kuzma, went just 1-5 from three.

It’s safe to say the offensive issues are prevalent throughout this roster. It’s especially excruciating for Laker fans when considering their opponent has complimentary wings Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr hitting late, timely buckets.

In addition, Green and KCP are plus defenders but don’t have the ability and experience on that end that Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, who are unavailable for LA, have consistently. This is an especially glaring missing link against this lethal Trail Blazer backcourt, and worrisome down the road with the likes of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George potentially awaiting them.

As crazy as it sounds to say at this juncture, the Los Angeles Lakers’ circus show couple of Dion Waiters, who played 1 minute last night, and one of LeBron’s ride or die role players and recent Lakers signee, J.R. Smith, might need to see big minutes and critical roles in Game 2 and moving forward for head coach Frank Vogel.

They need an offensive spark from those knockdown shooters that Green and KCP simply can’t provide right now.

Both have some history that causes red flags. But, with no travel these playoffs there’s no potential repeat of a plane trip fiasco for Waiters. As far as J.R., with no fans present he’s got to be less likely to have the score wrong in late, critical situations without the noise and distraction of spectators.

In all seriousness, it’s not “grab the panic button, jump off the ship” time for Lakers fans yet. It’s one loss in a best of seven, versus a rarely dangerous 8 seed in Portland that is more like a 4 or 5 seed with the hottest player in the NBA right now in Damian “Logo” Lillard.

Expect a breakout shooting performance from one of the aforementioned Lakers role-playing guards or wings. More importantly, don’t expect a solidified top-five player in the world in Davis to shoot 33% from the field again this series like he did last night going 8-24.

Next. A hilariously perfect Kobe Bryant story. dark

Like many others, going into this series I believed it wouldn’t be smooth sailing, and the Los Angeles Lakers would stave off the Blazers in six or maybe seven games. It may be a 1-8 seed matchup, but Portland’s seismic advantage in terms of perimeter production should give Laker fans a slight scare in this unprecedented, souped-up AAU tournament serving as this year’s NBA playoffs.