The extreme demand of each NBA season means that not even the champion teams can rest on their laurels and if they want to repeat the championship, they must focus on what aspects they can improve for the next season. The Los Angeles Lakers do not escape that logic and beyond having shown that they were the best in 2019-2020, there are certain areas in which they can still raise their performance in the next tournament.
What are these pain points and how can you solve them? We analyze it below.
More | The Los Angeles Lakers are champions, but who will surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis next season?
The external shot
If there is one flaw the Lakers had this season, it was the outside shot. Can you imagine this team with one or two safer shooters? They probably would have been impossible to defend … especially if we consider that even without them, they had the second best offensive rating in the Playoffs, converting 115.6 points per 100 possessions.
The Lakers tried little of three: 31.6 per game, 23rd among the 30 teams in the Regular Phase. But at the same time, they were not efficient either: 34.9%, ranked 21st. The story wasn’t much more positive in the postseason: 11th out of 16 teams in attempts and 12th in percentage.
It is clear that the main virtue of the attack was its physical power and the ability to dominate the paint, but representing a greater perimeter threat would be key to face a 2020-2021 in which they may have greater challenges to overcome. Renewing Markieff Morris, who led them with 42% of three in the Playoffs, to Free Agency would be important in this regard..
What else can you do to improve in this area? In principle, no big changes are expected in the squad, with most of its players having contracts or player options, but It will be interesting to see if someone like Kyle Kuzma (third with the most 3-pointers attempted in the Lakers during the Regular Phase) manages to improve the 31.6% he registered this year.
In the hypothetical case that some unexpected space opens up in the rotation, some good triples that will be available in the market for an affordable price are E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway, Marco Belinelli, Justin Holiday, Bryn Forbes y Kyle Korver, among others.
Free throw efficiency
Just as his triple percentages were low, his performance from the singles line was even worse: they were the eighth team that went there most frequently, but they barely threw 72.9%. They finished 28 among 30 teams during the Regular Phase. They finally didn’t pay dearly in the postseason for dominance in most of their wins, but in possible closer games, it can be dangerous.
Among the five players who tried the most free, Anthony Davis was the only really safe with 84.6%. Then comes Caldwell-Pope with a correct 77.5% and below Kuzma with 73.5%, LeBron with 69.3% and Dwight Howard with an abysmal 51.4%. It is worth remembering that Howard is an unrestricted Free Agent, so his continuity is not assured. Soon, more about it.
This is probably the area that bothers the Lakers the least, as losses will come from the risk-taking and creativity of players like LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.. With all the good they get out of that, they can live with being a lazy team when it comes to caring for the ball.
Still, it is worth noting that they ended 22nd in losses, delivering 15.2 balls per game. Performance was even worse in the Playoffs, where they finished 14th among the 16 participating teams.
The most neglected? Rajon Rondo lost it in 20.8% of his possessions, Dwight Howard in 18.5% and LeBron James in 15.1%. Again, nothing to regret in the case of Rondo and LeBron, but a striking figure in the case of Howard, who normally does not tend to chip the ball or seek to create his own shot.
Although Howard had some high points in the Playoffs, especially in the series against Denver, both he and JaVale McGee were among the weakest of the team in the postseason.. So much so that by Game 6 of the Finals, neither of them were part of Vogel’s rotation anymore, with Markieff Morris outscoring them both in order.
McGee has a 4.2 million player option that he is sure to take advantage of. However, the feeling is that the Lakers may look for a upgrade in the position of Howard, who as we mark, is already Free Agent.
If we review the three previous points, we see that Dwight is detrimental in all of them: he has no shot, he was the worst free shooter on the team and the second most careless with the ball. With Davis plus the possible continuities of McGee and Morris, the Lakers might already have enough options at the five to head into next season. But if they decide to keep the scheme of this campaign, the market puts on the table some options superior to Howard such as Mason Plumlee or Aron Baynes.
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