The going for the Los Angeles Lakers hasn't just been tough, it's been ugly. Shockingly ugly.
With a payroll exceeding $100 million and a roster consisting of four perennial All-Stars, Hollywood's finest were supposed to run away with an NBA title, not run toward the draft lottery.
And yet for the first time since 2005, that's just where they're where headed. That is, unless they get their act together, finish out the latter half of the regular season strong and make the postseason push that once seemed like a formality.
Doing so won't be easy.
One look at the numbers behind their tempestuous season tells us that much.
17: Wins the Lakers Have at the Season's Halfway Point
To date the Los Angeles has won just 17 games. That puts the team seven games under .500 and gives it the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference.
It also puts this group four games outside the eighth and final playoff. With the magic number to clinch a playoff berth set at 46, the Lakes must finish out the second half of the season by winning 31 of their last 41 games.
Is a record of 31-10 to close out the year a realistic goal for these Lakers?
The talent on their roster suggests yes, but their .415 winning percentage suggests otherwise.
$2,943,739.79: Price Per Victory the Lakers Are on Pace to Pay
Tinseltown is on pace to win just 34 games this season.
With a payroll slightly above $100 million, that means the Lakers would have paid nearly $3 million per victory.
Need I say more?
1.15: Los Angeles' Current Win-Differential
Thus far, the 17-24 Lakers have outscored their opponents by an average of 1.15 points per game.
That makes Los Angeles the one and only team with a sub .500 record to have actually scored more points than their opponents.
Most definitely, but not in a good way.
Outscoring your opponents en route to losing is perturbing. Los Angeles scores 108.1 points per 100 possessions, the eighth best mark in the league.
So, why is it that the Lakers only boast the 20th best overall record ?
101.4: Points the Lakers Allow Per Game (The Reason They Only Have 20th Best Overall Record)
These Lakers are one of just six teams allowing 100 or more points a night.
The 101.4 points they allow is the fifth most in the league, and they have allowed 100-plus point 23 times this season. On those occasions, they've posted a record of 5-18.
By comparison, when they allowed fewer than 100 points, they're 12-6.
Defense doesn't just win championships, it wins regular season games too.
Take note, Los Angeles.
15.4: Turnovers Los Angeles Commits Per Game
On average, the Lakers are coughing up the ball 15.4 times a bout, sixth most in the league.
Protecting the ball is a necessity for this team moving forward. Shoring up their ball-protection ensures that they have ample time to get back on defense and cuts down on the number of points allowed per contest.
What it also does is diminishes the burden their own transitional offense (or lack thereof) creates.
Despite running Mike D'Antoni's uptempo offense, Los Angeles ranks just 21st in fast break points tallied a night with 11.4.
Perhaps "uptempo offense" really isn't the correct phrase to describe their offense then.
43.9: Points in the Paint the Lakers Allow A Night
The 43.9 points the Lakers allow in the paint per game ranks 28th in the league and really caught me off guard.
I understand that Dwight Howard hasn't been his usual self, but he's fourth in the league with 2.5 blocks per game. Los Angeles' failure to capitalize off his presence is a testament to how poor their defensive rotations are.
I'd like to say the Lakers' perimeter defense has been better, but it hasn't. They currently allow 22.9 points worth of treys per game, the 10th most in the league.
No wonder they're allowing more than 100 total points a game.
1.08: Points Per Possession the Lakers Allow off Pick-and-Rolls
Per Synergy Sports, the boys in purple and gold are allowing the "Roll Man" on pick-and-rolls to score 1.08 points per possession. Among the rest of the league's pick-and-roll defenses, that ranks 29th.
It doesn't get any better moving forward either.
Off cuts, the opposition is dropping 1.24 points per possession, the sixth-most in the Association. Off screens, that number falls to 0.94, but it still ranks 21st.
But maybe that's just because the Lakers have problems defending movement-heavy offenses. Their rotations have been beyond awful, and given their advanced age they're probably best served defending isolation sets.
Except they're not.
When guarding in isolation, Los Angeles ranks 22nd with 0.85 points per possession.
Call me crazy, but I think we're starting to see a trend here.
94.7: Possession Los Angeles Averages Per 48 Minutes
Truthfully, averaging 94.7 possessions per 48 minutes (Pace) is typical of a D'Antoni-led squad.
That number gives them the second-fastest rate of play in the league, indicative of the uptempo offense that the Lakers are supposed to be running.
Struggling to score in transition, though, has prevented this quickened pace from parlaying into victories.
When the Lakers receive less than 94 possessions per 48 minutes, they're 3-3. When they receive between 94.1 and 96.99 they're 6-3. When they kick it into high gear and create 97 or more possessions, though, they're 3-13.
That the more the Lakers run, the more they've lost. Kind of disproves the whole "run more, win more" mantra D'Antoni has been preaching in Hollywood.
7: Players Over 30 the Lakers Have on the Roster
The City of Angels is home to seven players over the age of 30. Of those seven, four average 30 or more minutes per game.
To put that in an even clearer perspective, just 20 players age 30 or older average 30-plus minutes a night. Not only do the Lakers boast 20 percent of such a faction, but all four of their players are in the top 11.
If you want to get even more down and dirty, just eight players in the entire league age 32 or older are averaging 30-plus minutes. Los Angeles is home to four of them, or rather, 50 percent.
Speaking of overworking your veterans, the Lakers' bench also ranks 27th in points scored a game with 26.1.
So much for depth, I suppose.
0: Excuses the Lakers Can Offer
The time for offering excuses in Los Angeles is over.
Injuries, inconsistencies and subpar performances have plagued the Lakers all season, but they're no longer excuses. Nothing is.
This is the team that the Lakers wanted, and barring yet another roster overhaul, it's the one they're stuck with.
And if we're to believe the numbers, that doesn't bode too well for their championship aspirations.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 22, 2013.
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