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NBA: What is the Lakers Problem?

Who would have thought with one of the best defensive players in the league and one of the all time best scorers in the league, the Los Angeles Lakers would start their season 1-4? The Lakers lost their four games to teams that should battle for the postseason – Utah, Portland, Dallas and the Clippers. The Lakers needed the woeful Washington Wizards to come to town to get their first win of the season.

Fans, management and the players themselves are wondering what has happened. Some have pointed to the new offense Coach Mike Brown has installed. Some believe Brown’s new “Princeton” offense is holding back the better players on the floor.

The offense has not run the smoothest in the first five games of the season, but do not fool yourself that is not what is bothering the Lakers. The offense itself has not been all that bad.

After the first four games of the season that Lakers are scoring at a rate of 100 per game, which puts them ninth in the NBA. Last season the team averaged just over 97 points a game for the 66 games they played. Their shooting from the floor is 50% and 41% from beyond the three-point arch. Last season the Lakers shot overall from the floor 46% and only 33% from three-point territory.

Kobe Bryant has started strong again this season with a scoring average of 26.8 points per game. He has hit 60% of his shots from the field and 53% from three-point range. New arrival Dwight Howard, who has recovered from offseason back surgery has averaged 23 points a game and is hitting 58% of his shots from the field. Pau Gasol is averaging a strong double-double with a scoring average of nearly 16 and rebounds of nearly 10 per game.

Steven Nash’s struggles have been the topic of many thus far in the season. Nash was not acquired to score points, he has to beat the court general on offense and he knows it will take time for the rest of the team to get to know his style of play.

A big problem the Lakers have had thus far is they are turning the ball over at a rate of 18.5 times per game. If they hope to compete with the best, that number must drop significantly. Once the new acquisitions get used to playing with their teammates and vice versa, the turnovers should drop and they should fall as well when Nash is fully recovered from his early season injury.

If you want to sum up the Lakers troubles in a word then it would be DEFENSE. They are giving up 99.8 points per game. If they would not have held the Wizards to 79 points, their points per game average would be well over 100. They are currently 19th in the NBA in points allowed.

The Lakers are also allowing teams to shoot 45% from the field, which puts them in 16th overall in the league. They only have forced 13.5 turnovers per game thus far. Their transition defense has been horrible. They are currently ranked 24th in the NBA, giving up 16 points each game on the fast break.

The bench has also not contributed this season. The reserves are only scoring 18 points per game, which is 29th in the league. They have not real threat that can come out and score opponents off the bench.

The Lakers stock increased in the West when Oklahoma City traded guard James Harden to Houston. However, if they expect to be near or at the top when the season ends in May, they need to right the ship now. Picking up a decent sixth man might be a good start.

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