On August 5, the Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the high-flying Los Angeles Lakers, 105-86. Behind 21 points from Chris Paul. LeBron James shot 7-19 from the field and Anthony Davis, 3-11. Both converted just 33% of their shots, in their worst shooting performance since becoming teammates in the 2019 NBA off-season. Although, the Lakers have been struggling to convert ever-since entering the Orlando bubble.
In the first regular-season game since the season restart, the duo shot a combined 37%. The purple and gold did manage to scrape the victory over cross-city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers. But as a team that night, the Lakers held a 39% field goal percentage (30.6% from 3). The concerns have been there from the off.
In the second game, the Lakers were dominated by the reigning champions, the Toronto Raptors. Shooting-wise, the team shot 35.4% from the field and 25% from downtown. Another poor showing behind 2-7 shooting from Anthony Davis. However, LeBron converted 46.7% of his looks.
The Lakers had a much-improved night against the Utah Jazz, in a 116-108 win. The team clicked for the first time in the bubble, shooting at a 50% rate (34.6% from 3). This was behind a 42-point outburst from Davis, and a 22-point contribution from James. But the very next game, against the Thunder, the shooting woes resumed.
Avery Bradley is sorely missed from an outside shooting standpoint after he opted to not enter the Orlando bubble due to concerns over his son’s health. Who has a history of respiratory illness. Bradley finished the 2019-20 season with a 36.4% 3-point percentage.
Danny Green, who is regarded as one of the Lakers’ premier outside threats, is shooting at a 15.4% rate from beyond the arc in the bubble. Against the Raptors, he failed to land a single field goal. The 2-time NBA Champion is receiving heavy criticism from fans of the purple and gold at present time.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has been shooting 38.5% from 3 this season, is struggling also. Converting just 22.9% of his looks since the season restart. While new-signing, JR Smith, is taking some time to slot into the roster. The 34-year-old has landed just 1 field goal, in 4 games, albeit in limited minutes. Additionally, while Dion Waiters has been putting points on the board in Orlando, his shooting percentage from the field currently sits at 39.5%. From 3-point land, Waiters is hitting a dismal 12.5% of his shots.
Although, a bright spot has been 25-year-old Kyle Kuzma, who has been under scrutiny for the majority of the season. He’s shooting at an improved 45.3% from the field and at an impressive 51.6% from 3 in Orlando.
It is a team effort, however. Whilst Kuzma is stepping up to the plate, it all starts with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If they fail to hit shots, it sets a precedent for the rest of the team. Saying that, that’s where the likes of veterans Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dion Waiters, and JR Smith should step up to the plate. Which just hasn’t happened yet.
On the season as a whole, the Lakers have slipped down to 10th in the league in points scored per game (113.4). In offensive rating, the team are 11th (111.6). However, their net rating (6.3) is the 4th-best in the NBA. Which is mainly a factor of their solid defense.
The Lakers could be relaxing with the postseason approaching and the #1 seed in the West already locked up. Although, some momentum and confidence going into the purple and gold’s first playoff appearance in 7-years wouldn’t do any harm either. Head Coach Frank Vogel has certainly got some work to do in the 4 remaining games of the regular season.