Heading into this offseason, one of the major improvements everyone pointed to the Los Angeles Lakers needed to make was improving their outside shooting. Last season they ranked 29th in 3-point shooting, and LeBron James has usually operated best when surrounded by shooters.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka decided to add the likes of Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee. None of whom are known for being lights-out from deep.
Pelinka, however, disagrees that the Lakers lack shooting. “To me, that’s a little bit of a misnomer,” the Lakers GM said at a press conference on Wednesday. Pelinka noted elite shooters in the league are usually in the 38 to 42 percent range before turning the mirror around on the Lakers roster.
“If you look at last year, Josh Hart shot 40 percent. Brandon Ingram shot 40 percent. KCP had a career year, almost 39 percent. LeBron shot 37 percent. Kyle Kuzma, 37 percent.
“So, just because we didn’t sign sort of the poster-child shooter that is a specialist and can just make shots, we felt like we assembled a cast of guys that can really shoot the ball but also defend and be versatile.”
The Lakers certainly have players who can make shots, and youngsters such as Kuzma, Ingram and, especially, Lonzo Ball can all improve. Rookie Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk should also help in that regard if he can crack the rotation.
The Lakers were focused on adding versatile playmakers on their roster, something else that Pelinka believes will ultimately help the team’s shooting.
“If you really study LeBron and the way he plays, and Rajon Rondo and the way he plays, these guys are so smart at creating angles and passing that the shooting windows for our other players are going to be bigger,” Pelinka wagered. “So that’s going to increase their percentages.”
Getting more open shots because of the attention that will be paid to James is a real possibility and could help improve percentages across the board. Meanwhile, having a roster full of great passers conceivably, could also lead to better looks.
The Lakers front office had a plan this offseason and executed it. Whether or not their shooting problems are solved by their free agency moves however, remains to be seen.
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