Turnovers have been a consistent problem for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. The team has committed the second-most per game (17.3) and had the fifth-highest percentage of possessions end in turnovers (16.3 percent) in the NBA.
Those giveaways were a problem for the Lakers again in their last game before a Thanksgiving break, as the team coughed up the ball 17 times in their 113-102 loss to the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento had the same number of turnovers, but the Lakers failed to cash in on those opportunities.
After the defeat, Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he thought turnovers were the biggest problem with his team’s transition attack on the evening and an extension of what’s plagued them thus far in the season, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It’s time to really start taking care of the ball. It’s about making the bounce pass instead of trying to throw an alley-oop. It’s about taking a straight line to the rim until somebody stops you. They’re simple, they might not be flashy, they might not get you on Sportscenter but they’re effective ways of running a fast break.”
Lonzo Ball echoed a the sentiment Walton expressed, via Spectrum:
“We have a lot of turnovers, especially in transition. Those are a double-negative because you’re supposed to get buckets with those. Just make the right play. Make the simple play. I think we’re trying to go for home runs every time when we could just make a pass and get a layup.”
The Lakers have run like Walton intended, ranking second in the league in the percentage of their offense that comes in transition while getting out on the break 19.8 percent of the time.
The problem is that they’ve turned the ball over on 17.7 percent of those transition possessions.
That’s the fifth-worst mark in the league, which is more often than when the Lakers manage draw free throws on those possessions — something they do 14.6 percent of the time.
If one is looking for reasons why despite how frequently the Lakers get out in transition, they score on the ninth-fewest percentage of those possessions in the NBA (46.8 percent), those are solid places to start.
Such futility in high volume would present a big problem for any team, and doubly so for one that relies on fastbreaks for so much of their offense. On that front, Walton said the Lakers were going to get back to basics in practice over their break from games.
It won’t be as simple as it sounds to teach the young Lakers to make the simple plays, but if the team can clean up its transition offense, it would go a long way towards fixing their 27th-ranked offensive efficiency and allowing them to potentially at least get out of the bottom-five in that stat.
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