Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Biggest Problems Hurting LA This Season
There are plenty of things to love about the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
For one, the players have seemed to buy into Mike Brown's defensive coaching philosophy. The team has held opponents to just 40.3 percent from the field, which is the second best in the league.
Secondly, Andrew Bynum has made Lakers fans forget about Dwight Howard. His dominance on the glass and in the paint has made the Lakers a contender in the Western Conference again.
That being said, the Lakers need to sharpen some edges in order to come out on top in the Western Conference. This is a work in progress and there's plenty of work left to be done, from finding a new point guard to Kobe taming himself from taking over games.
We're almost two weeks into the season and the Los Angeles Lakers still haven't won a road game.
Granted, they've only played two of them.
That said, the Lakers should've been able to put away an inferior Sacramento Kings team that had three-pointers falling in left and right that night.
They also blew a late fourth-quarter lead at Denver on a night when Kobe couldn't find the hoop.
They still have 31 road games left, but the Lakers don't want to become a "win-at-home-only" type of team. If a team wants to win in the playoffs, they need to learn how to win on the road.
The 2010 Lakers team that defeated the Boston Celtics in the Finals was able to steal Game 4 of the Finals on the road, and they absolutely needed to win at least one if they were going to win the series.
This exemplifies the importance of road games.
The Lakers have a tough one tonight at Portland, a city where they have historically struggled to find wins.
The Trail Blazers also have the best record in the West. A win there will prove that the Lakers won't have much trouble winning on the road and that the first two road losses were just minor bumps in the road.
Fatigue is going to be a major motif in this season's condensed schedule for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Let's face it—that loss at Denver when the Lakers imploded in the fourth could've directly had to do with the fact that the Lakers were playing their sixth game in eight nights.
It doesn't slow down for the Lakers. They have eight games in 12 nights.
Once again, this sort of adversity is only a test of will for the Lakers. They're fortunate that they don't have any more back-to-back-to-backs and that their schedule lightens up toward the end of the month.
After this stretch of eight in 12, the Lakers have two consecutive weeks when they play three games per week.
This problem will eventually fix itself as the Lakers become more conditioned and desensitized to the brutal schedule.
Kobe's Desire to Take over Games
Whether it's his ego or just habit, Kobe Bryant has often tried to take over games for the Los Angeles Lakers and it hasn't worked.
A classic example of this came in the Denver loss, when Kobe turned the ball over six times and shot 6-of-28 from the field.
In fact, the Lakers are 1-3 when Kobe shoots the ball more than 20 times. Otherwise, they are 3-0.
Kobe has solid teammates. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are both potential All-Stars.
Josh McRoberts and Metta World Peace are hard-working guys who have contributed in positive ways this season.
Have trust in your teammates, Kobe.
Point Guard Necessity
This problem may end up doing the Los Angeles Lakers in.
It's the age-old problem of the Lakers' point guard.
Derek Fisher is too old, and Steve Blake is not a facilitator.
Chris Paul has notoriously ate up the Lakers. He did it in last year's playoffs and this year's preseason. Russell Westbrook gave the Lakers fits in the seven-game series two seasons ago. The Lakers need help at the point.
Fisher is 27th in the league in assists per game, and that's just from point guards!
That's not going to win any games in the playoffs.
The point guard's job is to facilitate the offense for the rest of the team, and it isn't happening in Los Angeles.
The Lakers average 95 points per game, which is in the bottom half of the league. This is uncharacteristic for the Lakers who have scored at least 100 points per game in the last five seasons.
The good news for the Lakers is that the New Jersey Nets are 1-6 and may be willing to trade Deron Williams if their struggles continue when the trade deadline approaches.
Nerd alert time:
The coefficient of variation is a great statistic that measures consistency of a player. It pretty much divides the standard deviation by the mean.
So in short:
Coefficient of Variation = Standard Deviation/Mean
Why is this important?
When applying it to points scored, one can see how a consistently a player scores closest to his season average. If a player scores 0 points one game and 30 points in another game, his CV will be higher than a player who scores 15 points in one game and 15 in another game. Their average is the same, but Player A is the less consistent player.
In other words, the lower the CV, the more consistent the player.
Let's apply this to the Lakers. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol both have low coefficients of variation.
|Kobe Bryant||Pau Gasol|
|Points Per Game||25.9||16.9|
|Coeff. of Variation||0.28||0.18|
Now let's compare their coefficients of variation to some of the key Lakers bench players.
|Metta World Peace||Josh McRoberts||Steve Blake|
|Points Per Game||8.6||5.7||8.7|
|Coeff. of Variation||0.76||0.48||0.55|
As you can see, the Lakers bench has played pretty inconsistently. MWP, Josh McRoberts and Steve Blake all have coefficients of variation that are significantly higher than Kobe's and Pau's.
In simpler words, these guys are basically scoring no points in one game and 19 in another, which is actually true in MWP's case.
More consistent bench play for the Lakers is necessary, especially if Kobe hits one of his scoring droughts which have become more prevalent these days.