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    Lakers happy with spacing, want to continue to ‘love and live in the paint’
    • October 10, 2023

    EL SEGUNDO — Lakers coach Darvin Ham had a list of things he wanted to see the team improve on or change from last season entering this preseason.

    Among them: the team’s spacing, which is already noticeably different.

    The Lakers are using five-out spacing – when every offensive player is starting a play outside the 3-point line – significantly more often than last season when they used more four-out, one-in spacing.

    With the caveat that it’s been just two preseason games, the adjustment has appeared to help. The Lakers have scored at least 29 points in five of the six quarters when players who are expected to be or compete for a spot in the Day 1 rotation played regular minutes.

    “We have some high-IQ basketball players so we give them a kitchen full of surprises and sometimes we cook up the meals and sometimes they create their own spins on the dishes,” Ham said. “It’s been great. Just the dialogue and communication between the coaches and players, it’s allowing everybody to be more creative and get on the same page and be more consistent.”

    Generally, the main benefits of five-out spacing for an offense – if done correctly and with proper ball and player moment – is that it opens up the paint and makes defensive rotations more difficult.

    This is supposed to lead to more efficient scoring opportunities, which has been the case for the Lakers so far in their exhibitions – especially in Monday’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

    Monday’s shot chart from the non-deep bench Lakers players significantly skewed toward 3-pointers and shots inside the paint – the signs of a healthy offensive system.

    “Our offense is a free-flowing offense and it’s predicated on space and quickness,” Ham said. “So whenever we cause the defense to be occupied, we have shooters out there. They have to account for people at the 3-point line, it opens up lanes and allows us to love and live in the paint. Which, in turn, puts that much more pressure on the defense to get stops and it opens us up to win the free throw line as well.”

    Using five-out spacing should be easier for the Lakers this season compared to the last one, when they were a bottom-six team in both 3-point attempt frequency and accuracy.

    They added players in free agency who attempt a high rate of 3-point shots and are going to force defenses to respect them from behind the arc in Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood and Taurean Prince.

    D’Angelo Russell is a high-volume 3-point threat who will take them off the dribble in addition to catch-and-shoot opportunities. Austin Reaves is also a versatile 3-point shooter.

    LeBron James has become a more respected shooter in the latter stages of his career.

    Ham said after Tuesday’s practice that he’s “requested to see six 3-point attempts a game – three per half, at least” from big man Anthony Davis. That might not happen, which Ham acknowledged, but Davis seems poised to take more 3-point shots after attempting 1.3 per game last season, his lowest output since the 2014-15 season.

    The Lakers might not replicate the 55 3-point attempts they had Monday, but letting it fly from behind the arc and making defenses pay for sagging off of them has clearly been an emphasis.

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    “We have better shooting this year,” James said. “We have a lot of guys who shot the ball extremely well from the 3-point line last year. Obviously, it starts with putting pressure on the rim and still getting to the free-throw line. We have enough shooting where we believe we can go up there and knock them down with confidence and at a high clip. Still, a work in progress.”

    As in their spacing.

    “Still too early to tell,” Russell responded when asked how it’s been adjusting to more five-out spacing. “You’ve got two preseason games, one training camp, not a lot of minutes. Obviously, [we’ve] got some high-IQ basketball players that’ll figure it out. As far as adjusting to it, it may be harder for some. It’s too soon to tell.”


    James (rest) won’t be available for Wednesday’s preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Ham said after Tuesday’s practice.

    Cam Reddish (right ankle soreness) and Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel soreness), who didn’t play Monday, remain day to day.

    Darvin Ham on the utilization of more 5-out spacing in the Lakers’ offense: “We have some high IQ basketball players. So we give them a kitchen full of surprises. Sometimes we cook up the meals and sometimes they create their own spins on dishes. It’s been great.”

    — Khobi Price (@khobi_price) October 10, 2023

    ​ Orange County Register