Los Angeles Lakers Stat Monkey Brief: Lakers/Kings (11/21/12)
The Point Guard Dilemma
With Steve Nash still preparing for his upcoming weekly shuffleboard games and Steve Blake looking forlorn and hopeless on the bench, Darius Morris received his fourth start this season last night for the Lakers. And he promptly went and stunk up the joint. An effective FG% of .375, a turnover percentage of 20.0% of all possessions he touched the ball, and a fourth-best on the team 19.4% assist percentage all helped contribute to a poor 83 offensive rating (ORtg) for Morris on the game.
But if the Lakers want production from the point guard position, they need look no further than their own bench. Chris Duhon's effective field goal percentage sits .230 higher than Morris, while contributing roughly the same amount of assists (20.0% vs. Morris's 20.7%) and only slightly more turnovers (23.5% vs. Morris's 17.9%). Because of that incredibly higher shooting average, Duhon's ORtg sits 24 points higher than Morris's ORtg entering tonight's game, while their DRtgs remain similar. Duhon ended up playing more minutes than Morris despite coming off the bench last night; don't be surprised if tonight's game is the Duhon Show Part Deux.
'Tis the Season of Taking Everything
This game has the potential to have a large free throw disparity. And when I say large, I mean "Bigger than the negative bottom line on the Maloofs' last tax bill" large. If the Lakers double the Kings' free throw attempts on this particular game, I would not be surprised.
It's the team's respective free throw factor that has me so confident. A team's free throw factor measures a team's free throws made as compared to their shots attempted, seeing how efficient they are at both getting to the line and making those free points as compared to how often they shoot the ball. This number can be applied both for offense - how often do they get free points? - as well as defense - how often do they prevent the other team from getting free points?
The Lakers currently hold the league's second-best offensive free throw factor at .262 and the league's best defensive free throw factor at .165. For the Kings... well, just take those numbers and essentially reverse them. Sacramento's .161 offensive free throw factor is 27th in the NBA, while their .288 defensive free throw factor sits in dead last. Sacramento's top three FT shooters (Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson) combine for 10.9 free throw attempts per game. Dwight Howard alone averages 11.5 free throw attempts per game. I think you see the problem here.
Pace: Last night's Lakers/Nets game had a pace of 89.7 possessions per 48 minutes. Despite being D'Antoni's first game, that's actually below the Lakers' average 92.8 possession rate on the season.
Offensive Rebounding: The only key phase of last night's game that the Lakers did not dominate was offensive rebounding. They only grabbed offensive boards on 20.0% of opportunities, while Brooklyn managed 28.6% of their opportunities. But that seems to be an outlier; the Lakers are averaging 33.0% of offensive rebounds on the season.