The Whiteboard: Are the Lakers outside shooters really this bad?

Los Angeles Lakers, Nylon Calculus, The Whiteboard

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The Lakers have been one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in modern history to start the season. Is the problem talent or random variance?

If you’re an NBA fan with a hunger for schadenfreude, the Los Angeles Lakers have been a veritable feast this season.

They’re off to a 2-8 start with the worst offense in the league, after dropping Monday night’s game against the Utah Jazz 139-116. It was their third straight double-digit loss and wasted one of their better offensive performances of the season. The Lakers hit 9-of-24 from beyond the arc against the Jazz, a somewhat rare bright spot in what has been an abysmal shooting season.

The Lakers don’t just have the lowest catch-and-shoot percentage of any team this season, they have the lowest percentage of any team since the advent of player tracking data first made catch-and-shoot stats available for the 2013-14 season.

And the Lakers aren’t last by a tiny margin, they’re nearly four percentage points below any other team a margin that would seem to indicate that at least some of their poor shooting is still a product of small sample size. Here’s another way to think about it — all else being equal, the Lakers could have made nine more 3-pointers this season, taking their overall point differential from minus-7.9 per 100 possessions to minus-5.2 per 100 possessions, and still have the worst catch-and-shoot mark of the past decade.

Why are the Los Angeles Lakers shooters struggling so much?

Criticisms of the Lakers’ roster are well-founded, there is a decided lack of outside shooters. There is no Danny Green, Ray Allen, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or James Jones on this roster. But even these somewhat shaky shooters are performing well below expectations by two different measures — their 3-point percentages from last season and the 3-point percentage the DARKO projection model estimates to be a true reflection of their current skill based on career results.

The team’s overall struggles make even more sense when you see the individual struggles of Patrick Beverley, LeBron James and Kendrick Nunn, in particular.

3-point percentage is a particularly noisy stat, especially this early in the season. Past research has shown that team 3-point percentage takes about 26 games to show even a 0.500 correlation with a team’s year-end number. Over their last three games, they’ve actually made a respectable 36.4 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. I mean, at some point, wide-open shots like this are going to start going in a bit more.

The point, is the Lakers are likely to finish the season as one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league, but that looked like a strong possibility before the games even started. But it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see some serious progression to the mean over the next few weeks even if it’s just moving them from absurd, historic outlier to just run-of-the-mill bad.

The good news for Lakers fans is that things probably won’t stay this bad. The good news for those looking to gorge on the suffering of the Lakers — they still have plenty of other problems to solve even if some of those 3-pointers start falling.

— Ian Levy


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No games on Nov. 8 in observance of Election Day in United States

Monday night was busy, with a staggered schedule of 15 NBA games, meaning all 30 teams played. But Tuesday has no games.

  • Why are there no games on Tuesday?: The NBA is observing Election Day in the United States, scheduling no games to encourage players, personnel, and fans to get out and vote.
  • Whose idea?: The NBA’s PR team said the idea spurred from the, “NBA family,” but Chris Paul made sure to make it clear that the players came up with this idea.
  • When is NBA back on? 13 games are on Wednesday night.

Ime Udoka hiring may be in jeopardy for Nets

After being reported as the likely hire for the Nets coaching gig, Ime Udoka may not end up in Brooklyn after all.

  • “Strong voices” push Joe Tsai to reconsider: some are pushing Joe Tsai to reconsider the decision to hireMarc Stein reported that Ime Udoka.
  • Internal employees are pushing back: According to a NY Post article, the Nets are “believed to have held a meeting where several female staff members expressed concerns.”
  • Ime Udoka’s suspension: Udoka was suspended for the season by the Boston Celtics just months ago after an internal investigation found instances of workplace misconduct related to a consensual relationship he had with a female staffer.

Will Kyrie Irving ever play again?

There are questions bubbling about whether or not Kyrie Irving’s NBA career has come to an end. H/T to Joyce Li of Yahoo! Sports for some of the digging and aggregation here.

  • Kyrie is suspended, why? Irving is facing a suspension of at least five games. He shared an anti-Semitic movie and was reluctant to deny he held anti-Semitic beliefs in the fallout.
  • When is Kyrie back from suspension? The suspension is for no fewer than five games, but there are six specific things he must do before he can be reinstated by the Nets. We covered that in a previous iteration of The Whiteboard.
  • Marc Stein reports Nets don’t think Kyrie will accomplish all six things. Apparently, there’s a belief that the requirements to return to the court were designed with the thought that it’s unlikely Irving will actually accomplish them all, giving the Nets reason to release him.
  • GMs think Kyrie might be done: In a recent Athletic article, an anonymous general manager suggested Kyrie may never play in the NBA again.

— Josh Wilson

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