Los Angeles Lakers: Kevin Pelton

Lakers lose a little O, gain some D

December, 21, 2009
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
This is not the defense of a finesse squad.

On last week's Kamenetzky Brothers Lakers PodKast, Andy and I spent a great deal of time talking both about LA's issues shooting from the outside and the way in which they've cranked things up on the defensive end over the first quarter-plus of the season. (The topic comes up around the 19:45 mark, right after a very compelling discussion of whether Kobe, who has called the fracture of his right index finger the toughest injury he's ever had to work through, could play with a peg leg or flippers. Could happen, you know.)

For those looking for a little more information on the subjects, Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has written a great feature on what's happening with the Lakers on both sides of the ball.

First, the defense. Last season, the Lakers evolved into a top shelf squad on that end of the floor (something many in the media, still reasonably focused on treating the them as a relatively soft, finesse-based team tended to miss), but this season have been even better. Pelton notes a bunch of stats that reflect some basic dominance. Into Monday's games, the Lakers have the best numbers in opponents' true shooting percentage (49.6%), three point percentage (29.7%), and points allowed per 100 trips (98.7). Only the Hornets foul less than the Lakers on a per-FGA basis (.195). One big reason for the improvement is thanks to this summer's small forward swap with the Rockets:
"...Some of the credit should go to swapping Trevor Ariza out for Ron Artest. Though the former has a solid defensive reputation, Basketball Prospectus' statistics show Artest holding opponents 8.8 percent below their usual production. By contrast, they were 7.3 percent better against Ariza..."

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Nick Young
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5