Lakers

JR’s Gameplay Coincides Nicely With LeBron, AD

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The general narrative surrounding this Lakers team is clear: they are a favorite when the NBA resume in Orlando. When last seen, this Lakers team was playing its best basketball, even after losing their last game to Brooklyn. They had reduced concerns that they could not compete with the Bucks and Clippers, who are both seen as title contenders as well.

The performance of the Lakers’ two all-stars is one of many reasons why this team has a chance at another title. Anthony Davis’ first season in purple and gold has been nothing short of stellar. He is the team’s leading scorer and a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. LeBron James has looked like everything except a 17-year veteran while leading the league in assists.

Here we’ll feature three stats that paint a picture of the Lakers as the season nears return. The stats highlight why the Lakers’ star power is relevant and the signing of JR Smith may make the offense even more efficient.  

2 players in Top 30 of Real Plus Minus (One of Three Teams)

No matter how complicated it seems, Real Plus Minus matters. Imagine the luxury of having two players who will on average add a few points to a team’s net score. The Bucks, Lakers, and Raptors each have at least two players who have such game changing impact. No surprise that the two all-stars represent the Lakers on this list. This means an open JR can only enhance LeBron and AD’s RPM further.

AD: 8.3 Free Throw Attempts Per Game (6th in NBA)

Anthony Davis is the Lakers’ best free-throw shooter at nearly 85%. Getting to the line frequently makes Davis’ free throws a valuable part of his game and the offense overall. However, in an altered climate where there is limited fan interaction, it will be interesting to see how free throw attempts and makes fluctuate. With opposing teams looking to cut off LeBron and AD in the lane, expect both of them to find JR (among other Lakers) on the wing.

11.2 Three-Pointers Made (22nd in NBA)

As a team, the Lakers are not a great three-point shooting team. The team ranks around the median in made three-pointers and three-point percentage. However, the team has individual players capable of catching fire from deep. Enter J.R. Smith: a whirlwind of fadeaway, contested three-point attempts and reliable playoff savvy. Smith’s addition could further enhance the spacing of the Lakers offense.

If J.R. and the stars keep up these trends, their bike rides will turn into parades in Downtown LA.

Lastly, with Rajon Rondo set to miss six-to-eight weeks due to a fractured thumb, Smith and others will have to absorb his minutes until he returns. This sets up for JR to log significant time in Frank Vogel’s rotation for awhile.

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About Tamba Mondeh

1st-year law student. Stillman College, The University of Alabama, and Duke University alum.

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