Saturday, April 1 2023
Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

Patrick Beverley was surprisingly optimistic about the state of the Lakers‘ offense after Wednesday’s 110-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets. “Well I think we were shooting 20 percent, and today we shot 26 percent,” Beverley told reporters. “So we got better.” Technically, he was correct. The Lakers shot 8-of-30 from deep against the Nuggets for a conversion rate of 26.7 percent. Amazingly, that was the best shooting night of the season for the Lakers, who never topped 25 percent from long distance in their first three games.

If you were expecting more statistics of the “worst” variety, here’s a far more notable one: the Lakers are shooting 22.3 percent from 3-point range through their first four games, which is the single worst four-game shooting stretch any single team has endured in a single season in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Another notable: LeBron James is 0-4 for the first time since his rookie season. That team ranked 25th in the NBA in 3-point percentage and still made them at a 32.7 percent clip … 10 percentage points higher than the Lakers.

As it turns out, the absence of Russell Westbrook did little to fix what is now a very visibly a broken offense. The former MVP turned struggling role player missed Wednesday’s game due to a hamstring injury initially suffered in the preseason. His replacement, Austin Reaves, actually shot 2-of-3 from deep in his stead. But removing one bad shooter does not suddenly populate the roster with good ones. The steadiest one on the bench, Matt Ryan, made two of his three attempts in eight minutes. The shooters not named Reaves and Ryan went 4-of-24.

It is hardly a surprise given the makeup of this roster. No Lakers player entered this season with a career 3-point percentage higher than Patrick Beverley’s 37.8 percent. To put that figure in perspective, Beverley played on the 2020-21 Clippers two seasons ago. That team had 12 players hit that 3-point percentage on at least 10 attempts. Kendrick Nunn ranked second on the team’s career 3-point leaderboard entering the season, but has made just four of his 17 tries this season.

One would figure that regression will eventually provide some relief simply because no team is capable of missing this many shots forever. Last season’s worst 3-point shooting team was the Oklahoma City Thunder, who made 32.3 percent of their looks. But by virtue of the players this team currently employs, there is no version of the 2022-23 Lakers that shoots the ball at even an average level, much less a good one.

Yet no change appears to be imminent. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski told fans not to expect a trade in the near future on a Wednesday morning appearance on Get Up. “Teams don’t really get serious about doing deals and maybe pivoting away from trying to be a playoff team, or trying to go toward the lottery in a year where there’s Victor Wembanyama available. They’re not going to do that until 20 or 30 games into the season,” Wojnarowski said. “So all the deals the Lakers didn’t think gave them enough value for trading those picks, they’re all still there. Utah, Indiana, who the Lakers talked with a lot during the offseason, I’m told they’ve not heard from the Lakers yet this season.”

The longer the Lakers wait, the less of an impact such a move could have. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner would inject some sorely needed shooting into this lineup, but the Lakers have shown no urgency to correct their shooting woes through four losses. If more losses don’t wake this front office up, Beverley might not get to celebrate another high watermark in the shooting department for quite some time. 



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