With the trade deadline approaching, the Lakers have a few issues to address with the current make up of the roster. With significant injuries to Lonzo Ball and Lebron James along with nagging injuries to Kyle Kuzma Luke is being forced to try the use the veteran depth on the roster to help alleviate the offensive woes (Spoiler: It’s not working)
As the margin of error getting smaller by the game for the Lakers playoffs chances there are specific aspects of the offense that the Lakers need to address. The idea is to have the roster personnel that alleviate the Lakers weaknesses without jeopardizing their cap flexibility or young core in the process
The Lakers have made it clear that they will not sacrifice their cap flexibility or young core in order to improve their roster unless it was for a SUPERSTAR caliber player
That being said, there are a few opportunities for the Lakers to swap out some of the veterans on the roster that just aren’t contributing as expected or aren’t really part of the future roster for players who can contribute to the offense without being liabilities on the defensive end.
With Lonzo’s return to play up in the air after being diagnosed with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, the Lakers are in DIRE NEED of play making outside of Rajon Rondo. Lin provides some quality minutes at back up point guard and functions as an off the ball partner for when the Lakers need him to once Lonzo returns.
Visualizing the addition of Lin
As the experiment with Ingram at point forward returned mixed results, it became clear that a major part of his Brandon’s issued stem from him making consistent pass/shoot reads but also involved him having trouble around the rim overall.
By adding Lin, the Lakers add another pick and roll ball handler who is adept at getting to the rim as well as finishing above the restricted area and below the free throw line.
On the play below, the Hawks run a double drag screen similar to what the Lakers run. Toronto counters with drop coverage defense and Lin finishes with soft floater
On the next play, Lin waits for a screen from Len and again reads the defense correctly and scores while keeping McConnell at bay and getting off a quality jumper
Even in catch and shoot situations from beyond the arc, Lin averages a respectable 34% three point field goal percentage with most of his three point opportunities being open or wide open in frequency
Integrating Lin within the offense wouldn’t be an issue since some of the offense that the Hawks run is similar to the Lakers and the personnel the Lakers feature (Zubac/McGee) in those roles is comparable as well
Even after the return of Lonzo, Lin can easily be slotted as an off the ball wing as his passing and scoring abilities integrate with the more defensive minded Ball
Similar to Lin, Ellington also provides some much needed offense specifically in the areas where the Lakers need help.
Nearly ALL of Ellington’s shots come from beyond the arc with 64% of his shots being in catch and shoot situations while another 19% come in pull up situations.
In catch and shoot situations Wayne is shooting 37% from three and an incredible 41% on wide open catch and shoot threes. Even in situations that involve 1 or 2 dribble pull ups, he is shooting over 42% despite lower frequency.
Visualizing the addition of Ellington
On this play out of a timeout, Wayne gets a pin down screen from Richardson and a dribble hand off from Adebayo which he nails even with Ross close behind.
This sort of down screen, dribble hand off action is similar to some of the action the Lakers run for Josh Hart and KCP which hasn’t worked well mainly due to their inconsistent shooting.
One of the things that Ellington does well is adjust his position on the floor to the ball handler in order to create a passing angle and shooting window for himself
On the play below Wayne slides over to get a better passing angle for Richardson on his catch and shoot look. The Lakers typically have Lonzo and Rondo in Richardson’s role so having Ellington and his high quality shooting and off ball motion helps when initial reads break down.
Adding Ellington would help the Lakers alleviate some of the catch and shooting woes that the Lakers are suffering from. The Lakers are already adept at attacking the rim and making extra passes but having high quality shooters would be tremendous to their dribble hand-off and down screen motion sets.
Even outside of their sets, Ellington being a high efficiency spot up shooter helps in floor spacing and transition
While fans and media speculate on a major trade based on their own impatience, the Lakers offense doesn’t require a complete overhaul to improve.
It requires players who are excellent shooters finishing possessions after quality execution and requires players who can take away responsibilities that some of the young core is not ready for just yet
Both Lin and Ellington on expiring deals allows the Lakers to not have to give up major assets to obtain and also allows the Lakers to free up better lineup combinations for the youth of the future