The Lakers are trying something revolutionary this year. Instead of applying scientific data and advanced metrics to their roster construction and in-game strategy, they are reverting back to how basketball was played in the 1950s – before heaps of information revealed its inefficiencies. Coach Byron Scott has, for some unexplainable reason, come out and said that his team will not be shooting threes. In the preseason, the Lakers shot fewer threes than any other team in the league, and that insane style of play carried over to Tuesday night when they only attempted 10 shots from long-range.
Scott must not have access to the internet, or television, or smart people who understand how basketball is played in this day and age, because there is overwhelming evidence that, in order to be a truly great team in the league today, you need to shoot a bunch of threes. A few weeks ago, after a preseason game in which the Lakers again shot only 10 threes, Scott said, “I like the fact that we only shot 10 threes. If we shoot between 10 and 15, I think that's a good mixture of getting to that basket and shooting threes.”
Last season, the best offenses in the NBA belonged to the Clippers, Heat, Mavericks, Rockets and Blazers, who shot an average of 24, 22.3, 22.9, 26.6, and 25.3 threes per game, respectively. Nearly every team in the league is embracing the additional point provided by nailing a three, but Scott and the Lakers are standing firm. The coach’s logic is that shooting fewer threes should result in more high-percentage shots close to the basket.
This logic, however, is stupid.
The Lakers don’t have the penetrators or the post-scorers to get easy buckets all the time. This mindless strategy is not going to result in more layups and dunks, but in more mid-range jumpers – the shot that has been proven as the least efficient in basketball.
But don’t be mistaken: If the Lakers had a coach who was good at coaching, this would still be a bad team. Now that it appears they are going to be without both Steve Nash and rookie Julius Randle for the entire season due to injuries, the Lakers’ roster has become even more of a joke. After Kobe Bryant, who is their second best player? Jeremy Lin? Carlos Boozer?
As an unabashed Lakers fan, I’ve prepared myself for the likelihood that they are going to be one of the worst teams in the league this year. In fact, I’m rooting for it. In the NBA, your team needs to be in one of two camps: contending and rebuilding. The Lakers are not going to be contenders this year. So, I would prefer they completely bottom out and lose as many games as possible instead of remaining a middle-of-the-road team fighting to make the playoffs and get swept in the first round. Additionally, their first-round pick in 2015 is top-5 protected – otherwise it goes to the Phoenix Suns. That means that unless the Lakers are one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, they will lose their top draft pick, their only real hope of contending in the 2015-16 season, to Phoenix.
If you’re a Lakers fan, Scott’s ridiculous strategizing may actually turn out to be a good thing. Last year Mike D’Antoni ruined everything by pushing for a few extra meaningless wins, knocking us out of the Jabari Parker sweepstakes. This year, Scott is going to help the Lakers lose like crazy.
Still, there should be a few good reasons for watching the Lakers play this year. They won’t be good at basketball, but we will get to see Bryant talk shit to Dwight Howard and anyone else who looks at him the wrong way, including his own teammates. That, at least, should be exciting.