In a season without too many W's in games, the Lakers most important wins this season have come in player development. The young players have made strides under Luke Walton and his staff, and it's paid off with 3 wins in a row.
To take a look at exactly how the young guys have played since the All-Star break, I've listed their offensive points per possession (PPP) and the percentile that PPP places them versus the rest of the NBA for both before and after the break, so we can see the trend each player has taken.
The Lakers hold two blue chip prospects in D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram (three if Julius Randle is included). Early on, Zubac looks to be a considerable steal, while high-flyer Larry Nance, Jr. projects a high-end role player, and Tarik Black is banging on the door to be considered as part of the young core.
The timing of this organizational shakeup is considerably more surprising than the fact that it actually happened. The writing was on the wall when Magic was brought into the fold (arguably even before that), and the speed with which the Lakers have a front-runner for the GM position suggests that such a process has been in the works for a while.
Imagine the terror one must feel as a defender as Lou Williams gets a step on you driving hard to his left. Maybe he pulls up and hits beyond the arc. Or he can take it into the open space behind you and finish at the basket. Or worst of all, you’re going to hear a whistle sending him to the line yet again for more free throws. Williams is having by far the most effective season of his career. . .
Many Laker fans have clamored for D’Angelo Russell to move to SG since he was drafted, where he can tap into his natural scoring ability without the burden of running the offense. To that end, Lonzo Ball represents the “pure PG” who can facilitate this change, capable of orchestrating the action just as he did at UCLA, and thereby establishing the natural order of the Laker backcourt for the next decade.
What advanced stats tell us about Brandon Ingram – and what Brandon Ingram tells us about advanced stats.Despite the debacle in Dallas, Lakers’ prized rookie Brandon Ingram has had a very nice January, now showing consistent flashes expected from the #2 overall pick.
At best, the term “role player” is a backhanded compliment, and at worst, it’s an outright insult. It implies that a player may contribute, but only in ancillary ways that aren’t as impactful as what the main characters bring to the table. That delineation is almost invariably determined by scoring ability. Yet, in a sport where the average game has slightly less than 200 possessions, evenly distributed between offense and defense, players without the knack for putting the ball in the hoop on a regular basis can still have a significant impact. Larry Nance, Jr. is one of those players. . .
Ivica Zubac continued his transformation from lovable prospect that was more meme than man, into a legitimate 2-way player making critical contributions during a frenzied comeback in a 127-121 loss against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. Zubac turned in one of the best pick and roll performances of any Laker this season, with an impressive display of skill and technique. . .
It's hard to believe now, but from the first day of training camp, the Lakers defense was a main priority of the coaching staff. For much of those early practices, they ran shell drills and spent hours going over defensive concepts in the film room. Coach Luke Walton even expressed optimism that they would "become a good defensive team." So what the heck happened?