Lakers’ Shooting Struggles Extend Beyond Russell Westbrook in Fourth Straight Loss

When asked about the state of the Lakers’ offense following Wednesday’s 110-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Patrick Beverley surprisingly had a positive outlook. Well, I believe we were shooting 20 percent and today we shot 26 percent,” Beverley said to the press. Therefore, “we improved.” As a matter of fact, he was right.

Against the Nuggets, the Lakers’ 3-point percentage was just 26.7% (8-for-30). Surprisingly, that was the Lakers’ best shooting night of the season; in their first three games, they shot less than 25% from deep.

If you were hoping for more “worst” numbers, here’s one that stands out considerably more: through their first four games, the Lakers are shooting 22.3 percent from 3-point range, the poorest such span for any club in a single season in NBA history. Another interesting fact is that LeBron James has started a season 0-4 for the first time since his rookie year. With a 32.7 percent clip, that team was 25th in the NBA, ten points ahead of the Lakers.

The Thunder’s offense is obviously in disarray, and the loss of Russell Westbrook did little to improve matters. The struggling former MVP missed Wednesday’s game due to a hamstring ailment he sustained in the preseason.

Austin Reaves, who came in for him, made two of three shots from deep. However, just because a lousy shooter is no longer on the team does not mean that a good shooter will suddenly appear. Matt Ryan, the most consistent reserve, converted on two of three shots in the game’s first eight minutes. The rest of the team’s shooters were 4-for-24.

Lakers Shooting woes continues
Lakers’ Shooting woes continue

Given the makeup of this team, it’s not shocking at all. Before this season, Patrick Beverley had the highest 3-point percentage among the Lakers at 37.8 percent. To put that number in context, Beverley was a member of the Clippers‘ 2020-21 squad two years ago.

Twelve players on that team made at least 10 out of 20 3-point tries, giving them a.429 3-point percentage. Despite entering the season as the team’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, Kendrick Nunn has only made four of his seventeen attempts.

It stands to reason that a team can’t keep missing this many shots indefinitely, so eventually, regression will bring some respite. The Oklahoma City Thunder had the lowest 3-point shooting percentage in the league last season, at 32.3%. However, with the present roster, the 2022–23 Lakers can never be considered a solid shooting club.

So far, however, it looks like little will change. During his Wednesday morning appearance on Get Up, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski disabused viewers of any hope of a trade happening soon. “When Victor Wembanyama is on the market, teams aren’t likely to get serious about making trades and possibly pivoting away from postseason contention.

It won’t be until the season is well underway, maybe 20 or 30 games in, before they do that “according to Wojnarowski. “So, the Lakers’ draught picks from deals they rejected because they didn’t feel they got enough in return are still available. I’ve heard that the Lakers haven’t gotten in touch with the Utah Jazz or the Indiana Pacers yet this season, despite having extensive conversations with both teams during the offseason.

The Lakers are wasting the potential benefits of such a move by delaying it. Shooters like Buddy Hield and Myles Turner would greatly improve this Lakers lineup, but the team hasn’t shown any urgency to address its shooting problems. Beverley might not be able to celebrate another shooting department high watermark for a while if more losses don’t wake up this front office.

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