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    Lakers’ offense showing significant development during preseason
    • October 15, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — The Lakers want the identity of their team to be based on what they do defensively. Their success on the defensive end of the floor is what led them to last season’s Western Conference finals.

    But through four preseason games, it’s clear the team’s biggest improvements have come offensively – a welcomed sight after multiple seasons of subpar offense.

    The Lakers’ players who’ll either start or are expected to be in the Day One rotation haven’t been available for many games together, which is a natural byproduct of preseason play.

    But when the main players have been available in the same game, like Monday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets in Las Vegas and Friday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors at, high-level offensive success has followed.

    The Lakers have scored 177 points in the five quarters (141.6 points per game) they’ve played a semi-normal rotation – the first half against the Nets and the opening three quarters against the Warriors.

    The obvious caveat is that it’s preseason and a very small sample. But the process of how the Lakers are scoring stands out just as much, if not more, than the production.

    They’ve improved with effectively running multiple actions within a set. They’ve diversified and introduced different sets, especially within the five-out setups they’re using more.

    “It’s the habits and the connectivity,” coach Darvin Ham said. “We do a lot of breakdowns, whether it’s two-man pick and rolls, three-man actions, four- and five-man actions, we script a lot and we constantly work on concepts and reads. Having the type of team that we have – everyone can dribble, pass and shoot – just that unselfishness, moving the ball, that all it comes down to.

    “As long as that camaraderie, continuity and communication on the offensive side of the ball continues to grow and build, there’s no doubt in my mind the sky’s the limit. There’s not a surprise to me at all. We have a bunch of offensively talented players that are willing passers and unselfish by nature.”

    They’ve benefited from the spacing their offseason additions – especially Christian Wood, Gabe Vincent and Taurean Prince – are providing for the main ball handlers and playmakers. They made 16 of 36 3-pointers (44.4%) Friday while also taking 37 free throws (made 23).

    It also helps that the Lakers had a full playoff run, offseason and training camp to build off and implement Ham’s concepts and sets.

    “Anytime you can play with a group of guys longer, you build that chemistry,” guard Austin Reaves said. “You build just really the feel of playing as a unit. That leads to not a good shot but a great [one]. So we try to preach a lot of good-to-great.”

    The offensive success the Lakers have had during the preseason may not be sustainable when the games start to count in the standings, but they’ve been an encouraging sign for what’s to come.

    Better two-way play will be needed compared to last season for the Lakers to contend for an NBA title.

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    “Our offense may be a little bit ahead of our defense right now,” Ham said. “But make no mistake about it, for us to accomplish what we need to accomplish, our defense is going to be our identity.

    “Offense is subjective and defense is objective. What I mean is offensively, you’re going to have different guys on different nights step up and carry a huge load for you to put points on the board. But defensively, you have to get that right almost every night. It’s a group effort and it’s a mentality we want to build on that side of the ball.”

    ​ Orange County Register