- Los Angeles Lakers need LeBron James more than ever
- Cleaning the Glass advanced stats website gives clearer insight into Lakers struggles
- James needs co-stars Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook to lead the way on both sides of the pitch when he’s out
The Los Angeles Lakers are having a very slow start to the season, and fans may be wondering if it’s time to panic, as evidenced by their resounding loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Perennial All-Stars Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook are struggling to carry the Lakers in the absence of LeBron James, and it turned out like the two combined for just 45 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
When they acquired Westbrook in the offseason, fan opinion was mixed, as many felt they should have acquired Buddy Hield in place of the Sacramento Kings due to the glaring lack of depth on the roster.
Losing twice to the Oklahoma City Thunder when they had huge second-half leads is indicative of the problems plaguing the Lakers.
According to the subscription-based advanced stats website Cleaning the Glass, the Lakers desperately need James to play heavy minutes if they are, at best, to qualify for the playoffs as a sixth or seventh seed as they go. it gives to the 17 NBA champions. a plus-32 winning differential when playing.
Prior to the start of the season, the Lakers were expected to win around 57 to 60 games this season and that assumes all of the Lakers are healthy.
But with the way they play now, the Lakers are only expected to win 28 games, well below their expectations of competing for a title.
Rookie Austin Reaves joins James on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, while Davis is very clearly still reeling from the effects of his groin injury in last season’s playoffs.
The team’s stats don’t look encouraging either.
The Lakers are currently ranked 24the by scoring points for 100 possessions with around 105 points per game and 20e in the same category, allowing nearly 110 points per game this season, according to Cleaning the Glass.
This ranks them well below Western Conference powers like the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors, who are capitalizing on their most recent resounding victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
With James absent, head coach Frank Vogel has to prioritize his team’s defense first as they are ranked 23e as a percentage of actual field goals, which means opposing teams can easily field big numbers against the Lakers’ defense.
To their credit, they’ve defended the mid-range pretty well as they rank in the top six but are ranked 23.e defending three-point shots.
Offense will come to them easily as the season progresses as they have a ton of weapons that can shoot well from threes and score in transition, but the real concern is converting their shots at mid-range as the Lakers only convert their points from that area 40.6 percent of the time.
Considering all the stats mentioned, the Lakers should focus more on building their team’s chemistry and identity, not making them into the playoffs.
All stats are currently pointing in the opposite direction, but James’ imminent return should help them.
Plus, they need the rest of the team to contribute when their opportunity arises.