After ranking dead last in offensive rating to start the season, the LA Lakers are suddenly looking like offensive juggernauts. Behind Anthony Davis’ spectacular display over the last 10 games, Darvin Ham’s team seems poised for a deep playoff run.
Not so fast, though, according to JJ Redick on his podcast, “The Old Man & the Three.” Here’s what he had to say about LA’s potential playoff outlook (at the 3:14 mark):
“When we get down to the playoffs without proper spacing, without enough shooting, they’re gonna have problems scoring in the halfcourt. … It’s very hard to have a good offense if you don’t have shooting.
“The Miami Heat teams and the Cleveland Cavaliers teams were built to optimize LeBron by surrounding him with shooting, and the Lakers did that initially. They won a championship, and then the last two seasons they’ve completely gone away from that.
"If Anthony Davis is playing like a top five player, if he’s playing at this level, maybe that lack of shooting does not matter. But I think there’s a corresponding thing here with them shooting the s**t out of the ball and Anthony Davis hooping.”
In their last 10 games, the LA Lakers have ranked fourth in offensive rating (118.6) and ninth in 3-point shooting efficiency (37.1%). For the entire season, they’re still ranked 22nd and 25th in those categories.
On the Lakers’ roster playing at least 15 minutes per game, only Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves are hitting 37% or better from deep. Walker's at 39.0% while Reaves is making 38.7% of his trifectas.
Anthony Davis has been overwhelmingly dominant in his last 10 games, partly because the LA Lakers have started hitting their outside shots. Teams now have to respect their 3-point shooting as opposed to how opponents used to smirk at their attempts.
The extra attention and defenders that opponents now have to give to the Lakers’ shooters have helped AD’s inside spacing. He has a little more room than usual to operate, which has been crucial in his blistering run of form.
The LA Lakers could look for more outside shooting starting this month
The LA Lakers waived Matt Ryan, owner of perhaps the team's biggest 3-pointer this season (a buzzer beater to force overtime in a 120-117 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 2). His release was supposed to create roster flexibility. As potent as Ryan was at 3-point shooting, he was only making 37.1% of them. He was also a poor defender that other teams consistently prey on.
With Anthony Davis showing he’s an MVP-type player, the Lakers could make more significant moves this month. Russell Westbrook continues to be a name in the rumor mill for a potential trade, particularly with his stock going up. He has been solid, if not great, since accepting his sixth-man role for the team.
A few reports have also surfaced that the Lakers are considering putting a package around Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn for shooting reinforcements. Beverley is hitting just 22.2% while Nunn is making 28.1% of their respective 3-point shots.
The LA Lakers could be legitimate contenders if Anthony Davis keeps up his hot play and he's backed up with consistent shooting.