One Team, One Stat: Three years of bad defense for Lakers
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2016-17 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Los Angeles Lakers, who haven’t been a good defensive team since Mike Brown was on the bench.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been the league’s worst defensive team, by a wide margin, over the last three seasons, allowing more than 108 points per 100 possessions.
Last season, the Lakers ranked 30th in defensive efficiency and became the first team in a 30-team league to rank in the bottom three for three straight seasons. (The last team to do it was the Golden State Warriors from 1999-00 to 2002-03 — four straight years before the Charlotte Bobcats joined the league.)
Lakers opponents shot better than 58 percent in the paint, the highest mark in the league last season. Only the Brooklyn Nets allowed more points in the restricted area. L.A. also ranked 24th in defensive rebounding percentage and 28th in opponent turnover rate.
L.A. forced its opponents to take only 12.3 percent of their shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, according to SportVU. That was the lowest rate in the league.
Even Roy Hibbert, who had anchored the league’s best defense over the previous three seasons, couldn’t help the Lakers. He was the center on three of the league’s four worst defensive lineups (that played at least 100 minutes) last year.
The Lakers allowed 114.1 points per 100 possessions with Kobe Bryant on the floor. That was the worst mark among players who played at least 20 minutes per game in at least 40 games … in the last seven seasons. The last player with a worse mark was Kevin Martin in 2008-09.
New coach Luke Walton has some work to do to fix an offense that has also ranked in the bottom 10 each of the last three seasons and has been too heavy on pull-up, mid-range, contested jumpers. But the most important work he’ll do this season will be on defense, where the Lakers have been historically bad over the last three seasons.
10 MORE LAKERS NOTES
The Lakers more wins against the Eastern Conference (9-21) than within the Western Conference (8-44).
Ranked last in both 2-point percentage (45.4 percent) and 3-point percentage (31.7 percent).
According to SportVU, 41.5 percent of their jump shots were contested. That was down from 42.4 percent in 2014-15, but still had them leading the league for the second straight year. This time, they also had the league’s lowest effective field goal percentage (45.4 percent) on uncontested jumpers.
According to SportVU, the Lakers had a usage rate of 53.0 percent on ball screens, the highest rate in the league. That means that, when they set a ball screen, they were the most likely to get a shot, turnover or drawn foul from the ball-handler or screener. Among 93 players who used at least 500 ball screens last season, Bryant (54.9 percent), Lou Williams (46.9 percent) and Jordan Clarkson (46.1 percent) ranked first, fourth and sixth in usage rate. D’Angelo Russell (34.1 percent) was also above the league average.
L.A. ranked last with just 3.3 secondary assists per game and percentage of assists (18.5 percent) that had a secondary assist, according to SportVU.
The Lakers were outscored by 19.3 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter, the second worst mark for any team in any quarter over the last 20 seasons. The only worse mark was that of the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, who were outscored by 19.6 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter.
Lakers starters had an aggregate NetRtg of minus-15.5 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark in the league by a wide margin. Their starting lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Bryant, Julius Randle and Hibbert was outscored by 265 points, a raw plus-minus almost twice as bad as any five-man unit in the last nine years. The next lowest mark was minus-139 (in 708 minutes) from the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur and Marc Gasol in 2008-09.
Jordan Clarkson took 42.3 percent of his shots from 3-point range after the All-Star break, up from 22.2 percent before the break. That (+20.1 percent) was the biggest post-break increase in 3PA/FGA among players with at least 250 FGA before the break and 200 after it.
Luol Deng took 29.2 percent of his shots from 3-point range after the All-Star break, down from 38.7 percent before the break. That (-9.5 percent) was the biggest post-break decrease in 3PA/FGA among players with at least 250 FGA before the break and 200 after it.
Jose Calderon averaged just 9.1 field goal attempts per 100 touches, according to SportVU. That was the fewest among players with at least 2,000 touches last season.
NBA TV’s Lakers preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 10.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.
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