It’s quite interesting: LeBron James’ Lakers are the No.1 seed, but their flaw is increasingly glaring


Five minutes into the second quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James galloped onto the court and burst into the paint. He collided with his main defender, Lugentz Dort, but by that time two other thunder defenders – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley had converged. A fourth, Abdel Nader, got his hands on James’ pass to Dion Waiters in the corner. The servers managed to lock the ball, which he then laid on the ground to create a contested 12-foot fadeaway that hit the panel before it grazed the rim:

The end result was particularly lousy, but possession serves as a practical microcosm of the Lakers’ 105-86 loss (score from the box) on Wednesday. James, who finished with 19 points on a 7 for 19 shot, saw defenders assist whenever he tried to create. The same goes for Anthony Davis, who scored just nine points on a 3 for 11 shot, and their teammates couldn’t get OKC to pay.

Two days after clinching the No.1 seed in the West, it seems like the kind of game that should be dismissed as meaningless. The Lakers shot a putrid 5 for 37 (13.5%) from 3 points and, according to Cleaning The Glass, they scored 85.1 points per 100 possessions in non-trash time and 65.6 per 100 in half court, which are both their lowest scores of the entire season.

But isn’t it interesting that four days ago they were almost as bad? In a 107-92 loss on Saturday, the Toronto Raptors held them to 86.1 points per 100 possessions in free time and 71.9 per 100 in half court. Here are three of the many goods that have gone nowhere:

What do you think, Russ?

The uncomfortable truth about the Lakers is that few teams in the bubble have looked more uncomfortable on offense. On the reopening they pulled off a two-point victory over the Clippers, but the individual dominance of Davis, who scored 34 points and shot 16 for 17 from the free throw line, obscured the fact that they had a lot hard to find points otherwise. Los Angeles scored 102 points per 100 possessions in the win, their 11th worst offensive performance of the season. That number would rank last in the league if held, as would the 86.7 points per 100 possessions the Lakers scored in the half court.

Even the Laker’s most ardent hater would admit that it’s unwise to draw catastrophic conclusions based on a four-game sample after a four-month layoff. Los Angeles has yet to face a defensive line and is trying to integrate Dion Waiters and JR Smith. Presumably, Danny Green won’t continue to miss that many 3 wide open. The Lakers’ bubble struggles, however, point to an issue that lasts all season: their poor half-court attack.

Even before losing Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo (the latter temporarily), they were too dependent on how James played and were a poor 3-point shooting team in both volume and accuracy. They feasted on the transition and played a stiffer defense than anyone expected, but in half-court their offense placed 15th when the break began, with essentially the same efficiency as the Phoenix Suns. .

Nothing we saw in Orlando suggests that the Lakers solved this problem, to put it generously. If they want to do that, they’ll either need Kyle Kuzma, the servers or Rondo to play consistently when they’re in the thick of the playoffs – a dangerous proposition – or they’ll need James to dominate the ball again. more. (and, based on their on / off numbers, almost never rest) No one targets weak links like him, but other suitors don’t have much.

Unlike last season, Los Angeles didn’t saddle James with a roster entirely devoid of shooting and filled with players who need the ball in their hands. Instead, he has an MVP-caliber co-star but a shaky supporting cast, and his path to his fourth championship leaves little room for error.

The most alarming thing about Wednesday’s loss wasn’t the margin but the opponent: The Thunder are one of the shallower playoff teams in recent memory, and their only bench threat, Dennis Schroder, had left campus for the birth of her child. But it was Los Angeles that looked top-heavy.

Previously on It’s quite interesting: Trey Burke says he wasn’t surprised by his scoring explosion; should someone be?


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