Advanced Scouting: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST December 28, 2010
LA Lakers: 5.16 (5th)
San Antonio: 7.62 (3rd)
|Player||Fraction of teams minutes||PER minus Counterpart PER||On court +/-per 48 minutes||Off court +/-per 48 minutes||2 Year Adjusted +/-|
*reflects figures in 2009/10
Most valuable/utilized lineups:
Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom, Gasol: +151 in 566 minutes (12.8 per 48 minutes)
Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom, Gasol: +76 in 101 minutes (36.1 per 48 minutes)
Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol, Bynum: +166 in 650 minutes (12.3 per 48 minutes)
Preferred method to create shots: The Triangle
The staple of any Phil Jackson team has long been the triangle offense. The triangle offense relies on creating space and options for skilled scorers to operate. This set produces opportunities to read and pick apart a defense, resulting in many mismatches and easy scores. This video describes the current version of the Lakers triangle offense.
The Lakers can produce offense efficiently in a variety of ways. Even without Andrew Bynum, the Lakers are scoring 20.5 PPG on possessions derived from the post, tops in the league according to figures provided by Synergy Sports. The Lakers also score 10.0 PPG on possessions beginning with Kobe Bryant in isolation sets. No other individual player is responsible for more such scores. In addition, the abilities of Bryant and Pau Gasol have contributed to many easy scores for others. The Lakers score 14.6 PPG from cuts, second behind only the Magic. (A couple of these scores started as isolation or post possessions.)
Appropriate Spurs counter: Entice Kobe to take difficult shots and play Duncan on Gasol
There are so many things that the Lakers do that can hurt you offensively that you really have to pick your poison. Kobe Bryant has possibly made more difficult jump shots than any player in the history of the game, but itâ€™s when he gets inside of 15 feet that he becomes really dangerous. Although he isnâ€™t the athlete he used to be, Bryant is so clever that he is still able to get to the free throw line often. His defender should be very careful not to bite on any of his fakes.
Bryant typically shoots over 40% on long two pointers, a solid rate, but these shot types are often inefficient and should be reserved for late in the shot clock (unless uncontested). To illustrate the importance of contesting Kobeâ€™s jump shot, we can look at his conversion rates for catch and shoot field goal attempts.
Kobe has converted 50% of â€œunguardedâ€ catch and shoot opportunities in 240 attempts over since 2008-09 (with an effective FG% of over 66%.) When Kobe takes the same shot classified as â€œguardedâ€, his field goal percentage falls to just shy of 35% with and effective FG% below 45% in 452 attempts. If the Spurs can entice Kobe to take these shots, it should benefit them more often than not. Of course, contesting his shots leaves you susceptible to committing fouls or being beat on the drive. The Spurs defender should always know where help on the drive is coming from and to not leave his feet on the contested shot.
George Hill and Manu Ginobili are the Spurs defenders who have shared the primary responsibility for defending Kobe in the post-Bowen era. Since Hillâ€™s rookie year, Ginobili has allowed a very respectable 0.81 points per possession (PPP) when defending isolation plays. Hill has allowed a poor rate of 1.11 PPP. In addition, Ginobili is taller than Hill and should present a more suitable option to defend Kobe in the post, preferably with some help defense.
With Bynum back, the Lakers become an even more difficult team to match defensively. The Spurs should hesitate to double Kobe outside of 15 feet to avoid the risk of an easy score from one of the Lakers bigs.
Pau Gasol, the Lakers other key offensive weapon, is the Lakers best option in the post. Duncan has been the primary defender of Gasol, especially since Pau came to LA in the middle of the 2007-08 season. Duncan has held the edge in this exciting individual matchup thus far. In 69 post possessions, Gasol has only scored 50 points against Duncan. By comparison, Duncan has scored a respectable 91 points over 98 possessions when defended by Gasol. This is still a small sample size, but could provide the Spurs with some reason for optimism.
With all the bigs the Lakers have at their disposal, the more Duncan is able to guard Gasol without help, the better chance it provides the Spurs for coming away with the win.
Defensive Weakness: Attack Fisher on the pick and roll and push the ball
The Lakers allow 14 transition possessions per game this year, the 9th most in the NBA. With Bynum recently returning from injury, running the break could be more an even more effective method to score on the Lakers.
The Spurs fast break has cooled as of late and San Antonio now ranks near the middle of the pack with 13.3 fast break possessions per game. However, they still have the pieces to run when the Lakers use big lineups.
In addition to running the break, the Spurs should find more scoring opportunities against Derek Fisher in the pick and roll. Over the past few seasons, Fisher has allowed over 1.00 PPP when defending the pick and roll ballhandler, typically ranking in the bottom 25% of the league. Tony Parker and, to a lesser extent George Hill, should be used frequently to test Fisher on this play.
Finally, the Lakers excel at defending the post and figure to improve with the return of Bynum. However, if the Spurs do attempt to establish the post, Gasol is the best target. Although Gasol isnâ€™t the worst post defender (his Synergy numbers generally place him slightly below average), he is significantly worse than both Odom and Bynum at defending post scorers. Since 2007-08 Gasol has allowed 0.89 PPP defending the post whereas Odom has allowed 0.84 PPP and Bynum has allowed 0.71 PPP.
The two time defending champs are coming off consecutive embarrassing losses against the Bucks and the Heat. The Spurs are currently 5 games better than the Lakers and are deserving of the top record in the West. I donâ€™t know that I can say I think a fully healthy Spurs team is better than a fully healthy Lakers team, but I do think the Spurs have played well enough to be favored in nearly every home matchup. I donâ€™t have to tell anyone how tough this game can be, but I think the odds are once again in the Spurs favor.