The Los Angeles Lakers’ most impressive statistic thus far may actually be their win total through 13 games, but here are 5 more surprising stats from their hot start
For those of you who suffered patiently, or impatiently, through LA’s down years, rest assured that the new look Lakers are exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
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Even after Friday’s hard fought loss against the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles is still one win over .500 with seven wins and six losses on the season bringing us directly into our first surprising stat.
5. LA Currently Holds a Playoff Spot
Yes, it’s early in the season but the Purple and Gold currently hold the eighth seed in the Western Conference and that’s something they haven’t been able to say for quite some time.
Equally surprising is the slow start of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who many were high on before the start of the season, and more so how godawful the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans have been.
The team is currently in a rough stretch with games against the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder on the radar, but if Friday’s performance against the Spurs is any indication of how the rest of the season will go, then fans should have nothing to worry about.
The Lakers are not only finding themselves with easier baskets around the rim, but also open looks from the perimeter as well.
Credit must be given to Julius Randle, whose new found interest in assisting his teammates instead of barreling headfirst into the paint is definitely contributing to this. Scratch that, he still barrels head first into the paint, but at least his head is now on a swivel when doing so.
3. Increase in 3pt Attempts and Accuracy
We knew that Luke Walton was going to amp up the production from beyond the arc, but the efficiency at which the team is shooting from distance is impressive.
Compared to last year, the team is firing three more attempts from 3-point range (24.6 to 27.2) and shooting nearly four percent more accurately (31.7 to 35.4 percent).
Propelled by D’Angelo Russell (39 percent), Jordan Clarkson (38 percent), Lou Williams (40 percent) and Nick Young (38 percent), Walton is running sets to get his team open looks and they are converting at a higher clip.
2. LA Is Second in the League in Scoring
This would be the most surprising fact were it not for the success of the Lakers’ bench mob who are outperforming their peers at a startling rate.
To put this in perspective, last season under Byron Scott the team averaged a league worst 97.3 points per contest. Translation: Thank God for Luke Walton. Picking up the pace drastically (98 to 102.2 possessions per game), the Lakers have also skyrocketed in offensive efficiency from 29th place to 8th this year.
1. The Second Unit is Leading All Benches in Scoring
One luxury bench units have is playing against other bench units instead of the starters, and the Lakers are definitely taking advantage of this. Many questioned Luke Walton’s decision to move Jordan Clarkson to the bench but it appears to be paying dividends already.
According to Bleacher Report, the lineup of Clarkson, Williams, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr and Tarik Black are averaging 50.6 points per game with an offensive rating of 107.8 and a defensive rating of 88.9.
The key to this unit’s success is how unselfish they play and how much effort they put in on a nightly basis. There’s only been a few occasions this season when this bench unit was out hustled by other squads and unlike conventional wisdom, the production of the bench, not the starters, is what gets this team going.