Los Angeles Lakers: Lakers Offseason needs

L.A.'s needs look very familiar

June, 7, 2012
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky

Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
When Chris Paul ended up in the wrong Staples Center locker room, the Lakers' plans for the 2011-12 season hit a major snag.

At this point one year ago, the Lakers were well into their offseason, having been swept out of the second round by the (eventual champion) Dallas Mavericks. At that point, we outlined five major areas of need heading into the 2011-12 season.

12 months later, after again bowing out (or being bowed, more accurately) in the second round, again in lopsided fashion this time by Oklahoma City, it's worth looking back at those five problem areas to see how well they were addressed. The answers aren't instructive simply in terms of giving the front office crew of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss a grade (though that's been the theme over the last 10 days or so), but also showing the challenges they face going forward.

How many items were effectively crossed off last offseason's to-do list?

1. Outside shooting.

Among the many ugly, indelible memories of the 4-0 pasting against the Mavs in 2011 was watching the Lakers clang shot after shot from beyond the arc. 15-of-76 overall, for a go-ahead-and-try-this-at-home-because-you-wouldn't-be-any-worse 19.7 percent. The spectacularly poor marksmanship left fans pining for the salad days of the regular season, when the Lakers' 35.2 3-point percentage merely made them below average (tied for 17th).

This season, the Lakers again fell short from the perimeter in the playoffs, hitting only 28.2 percent of their 3-pointers against the Thunder.Disappointing, but unfortunately not far off their 32.6 regular season mark, meaning nothing about the way L.A. shot against OKC was fluky. Throughout the year the Lakers had little floor stretching capability, limiting space inside for their high end post game or lanes for dribble penetration. Help defenders could collapse on the ball whenever it entered the paint, comfortable nobody on the perimeter would make them pay.

Jennifer Stewart/US Presswire
Yeah, so this didn't work out.

The Lakers hoped to improve their shooting in a few ways, starting internally. Steve Blake's 37.8 mark in 2010-11 was below the bar he'd set in the three seasons previous, for example. From there, they signed Jason Kapono and Troy Murphy to veteran's minimum contracts. How'd it go? Blake's percentage actually dropped this year, to 33.5 percent. In extremely limited run, Kapono went for 29.6 percent, then was tossed into the deadline day deal with Cleveland bringing in Ramon Sessions. Murphy actually hit a respectable 41.8 percent, but didn't play enough to make an impact.

One bright light, at least until the playoffs, was Sessions, who hit 48.6 percent of his 3's in 23 games post trade. Overall, though, the guys taking the most triples game to game (Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, and Blake particularly) were wildly inefficient. The Lakers clearly didn't fix the problem, meaning perimeter shooting -- genuine leave open at your own risk perimeter shooting -- remains a screaming neon need this summer.

2. Point guard productivity.

In 2010-11, Lakers point guards (Blake and Derek Fisher) scored less than any other combo in the league, at 10.9 points a game, and only generated 4.9 assists.

That had to change, particularly after shifting away from the triangle towards a more traditional point guard driven, pick-and-roll offense under Mike Brown. This season there was some improvement, as the Lakers PG's boosted their output to 14.9 points and 6.5 assists. Still their efficiency differential was again just off the bottom of the barrel.

But while the final numbers weren't ideal, the front office hardly ignored the issue.

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Kobe Bryant
26.7 4.2 1.3 35.7
ReboundsJ. Hill 10.0
AssistsJ. Lin 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.3
BlocksE. Davis 1.4