Even amidst a two-game winning streak, the Los Angeles Lakers remain one of the worst offensive teams in the league, and head coach Luke Walton is searching for answers.
The Lakers’ offensive marks are terrible across the board. The team is turning the ball over on 16.2 percent of its possessions, worse than every team other than the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. And they are the worst 3-point shooting team in the league as well, only making 31.9 percent of their attempts.
Add it all up, and the Lakers are scoring 100 points per 100 possessions, which is the third-worst offensive efficiency in the league.
The Lakers have plenty of scorers, but in order for the team to help solve its offensive woes, Walton wants to see steps forward from a player traditionally not looked to for his bucket-getting skills: Larry Nance Jr., via Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
Luke Walton said he wants to see Larry Nance be more “reckless.” How often do you hear that? But he wants Nance and “let loose a little more” on offense.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 9, 2017
The Lakers do need something more from Nance if he’s going to remain in the team’s starting lineup. The Lakers’ starting unit with Nance has played more minutes together (185) than any other five-man unit other than the same Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez, Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope unit with Kyle Kuzma in Nance’s place (223).
The problem for the Lakers is that the Kuzma-led unit has fared far better, only getting outscored by 1.8 points per 100 possessions. As opposed to the unit with Nance, which has been run roughshod over and outscored by 7.5 points per 100 possessions.
For context, the Lakers’ first high-usage lineup with a positive net rating, outscoring opponents by 28.1 points per 100 possessions, is the group of Caldwell-Pope, Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, and Julius Randle. That five has played 58 minutes together, the fourth-most of any unit.
Nance has often been reticent to shoot during his time in the NBA, which might explain why Walton is using terms like ‘let loose’ and ‘reckless’ to describe what he wants from his third-year forward.
For Nance, those terms might just mean “shoot at all” or “don’t only pump fake and pass,” as opposed to other players, who might take it as too much of a green light.
If Nance can get a little bit more aggressive in looking to get to the basket and score, or even just shoot when open so defenders don’t abandon him with impunity, it would help that starting unit.
Whether it’s enough to dig them out of the holes they keep getting into remains to be seen, but basically anything is worth a shot at this point.
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