Blueprint for LA Lakers to Be a Playoff Team

The Los Angeles Lakers will have a chance to participate in the 2014 playoffs provided that they follow a very specific blueprint.

The Purple and Gold were projected in ESPN.com’s "Fall Forecast" to finish 12th in the Western Conference standings, but they have a chance to make the postseason as long as everything breaks just right for them.

 

A healthy Kobe Bryant

It goes without saying, the Los Angeles Lakers’ season will heavily hinge on the status of Kobe Bryant. He is the team’s best player and its best offensive weapon. Consequently, the Lakers need a healthy Bryant playing at a level close to the one he enjoyed in 2012-13.

The main reason why the two-time Finals MVP’s status is crucial for the Purple and Gold is simple: the Lakers offense is bad. They are in the league’s bottom third in offensive efficiency, a rank that is by far their lowest of the past decade.

Since the 2002-03 campaign, Los Angeles has finished with a top-10 offense in every single season save for 2009-10, where they finished 11th.

Their futility through approximately the first quarter of the season can be traced to the fact that Mike D’Antoni has a team of jump-shooters incapable of creating their own scoring opportunities.



Furthermore, the Lakers have gone away from post-ups because they have not been great on this front in 2013-14. Per Synergy Sports (subscription required), they are only converting 34.5 percent of their field-goal attempts that originate from these situations.

Given the lack of success here, they are only using post-ups in 9.2 percent of their possessions that end up in a foul, turnover or shot attempt. For the sake of context, the Lakers have gone to the post on roughly 15 percent of their possessions in previous seasons.

With a healthy Bryant on board, the offense will take a different ...

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