The Los Angeles Lakers poor shooting is because of a poor in-house culture around the organization.
The Los Angeles Lakers are currently 27th in the league in 3-point percentage and they are last in free throw percentage.
Are their shooting woes based on lack of skill? Do the majority of the Purple and Gold players just not understand how to line their elbow up toward the rim or how to bend their knees properly when they shoot a free throw? Of course, they know how to shoot, they’re the best players in the world, so there must be another explanation for their poor shooting.
I’d like to digress for a moment and use a small supermarket as an example of how important culture is for any organization in the world (Note: if you’re not interested in reading this short deviation, please skip ahead three paragraphs).
Let’s say there’s a small supermarket on the outskirts of Los Angeles that has six part-time employees to go along with one manager and one owner. The manager and owner work hard, they never look at their cell phones during working hours, and they treat the customers nicely. The six part-time workers see the way the owner and manager work and they follow suit.
One day the manager quits because he’s going to college. The owner interviews several people and finally decides to hire a student, named Tanner, from the local high school, who worked in another supermarket for two years.
Tanner starts work, and whenever the owner isn’t paying attention he plays games on his cell phone and he’s rude to the customers. Soon, all of the other part-time staff see what Tanner’s doing and they slowly start to copy him, because he’s the manager.
At first, they just look at their cell phones a couple of minutes per shift and they’re just a little less polite to the people who shop in the market, but after a couple of months, slowly, they all become just the same as Tanner. The supermarket’s culture has been ruined by the new manager.
The funny thing about this example is that it just took one person to destroy the supermarket’s culture, but let’s say after a couple of months the owner realizes the new manager’s the problem and he fires him. Then the owner hires the best manager ever.
Will that awesome manager be able to easily change the culture back? Nope. It’s much easier to have a bad culture than a good one. That’s why there are so many bad companies and businesses in the world and very few good ones. The supermarket owner and new manager will have to work incredibly hard, with a positive attitude to change the culture back around.
Getting back to the Lakers.
They have a bad shooting culture, and it’s going to be hard to fix. The Lakers player’s miss 100 gazillion (I’m estimating of course) wide open 3-pointers every game and during some contests, they barely make half of their free throws.
This bad shooting is contagious, just like the flu. Its spread from player to player until it seems like it’s almost impossible for any Laker to make a shot. The shooting vibe on the Lakers is ugly right now. In my example above, it’s easy to see that the new manager was the problem, but for the Lakers, it’s much more difficult to diagnose exactly where this black cloud has come from.
The players have to be held accountable because they’re the ones missing the shots, but they’re certainly not the only ones to blame. To be honest, as crazy as it sounds, they’re not the main culprits. After all, Kyle Kuzma shot better at Utah, Lonzo Ball shot better at UCLA, Brandon Ingram shot better at Duke, Josh Hart shot better at Villanova, and Svi Mykhailiuk shot better at Kansas.
Luke Walton has to take some of the blame for the Lakers shooting. Last year the Lakers were also an awful shooting team. The Purple and Gold finished the 2017-2018 season ranked 29th in the league in 3P% and they were last in the league in FT%.
I’m not privy to what happens during Lakers practices, but something must be off, and that starts with the head coach. The Lakers have the personnel to be at least league average in FT% and 3P%, but they aren’t.
LeBron James is also responsible for the Lakers shooting woes. It would be easy to say his absence is the reason why the Lakers have been struggling on offense and there’s obviously some truth to that (the Lakers are last in the league of Offensive Efficiency without LeBron), but that’s not where I’m taking this.
He’s the MVP of the league, but he’s been shooting the ball badly this season. He’s hitting 68% of his free throws and only 35% of his 3-pointers on the season. The Lakers needed him to come in and start to help turn around the Lakers shooting culture.
Like the new manager in my example above, who was hired after Tanner, the awful one, he can’t change the culture by himself, but he can help start the transformation. Instead, like most of the other players on the Lakers, he was a better shooter last year on the Cavs.
Maybe you agree that there is something wrong with the Lakers shooting culture, but how can LeBron be expected to fix things? For example: If Kyle Kuzma misses a wide-open 3-pointer how can LeBron be blamed for that?
When the younger Lakers see the best player in the world bricking his free throws and hitting a sub-par percentage from behind the arc what happens to them mentally? Let’s not be naïve, and say his shooting has no effect on the other Lakers because it does.
Basketball players aren’t robots, they’re real people, with real brains. Negativity affects everyone in the world in a bad way, and missing shots is a form of negativity. When Kuzma, Ingram, Ball, Hart, or Svi see LeBron miss free throw after free throw, I’m sure they’re not blatantly thinking: LeBron is the best player in the world if he misses his freebies than how can I make mine?
Subconsciously, though, when the young Lakers see LeBron missing his shots it’s like a tiny echo reverberating through their brains, and the more shots the self-proclaimed GOAT misses, the louder that echo gets, and the more negativity it creates among the Lakers.
Scientists have proven that negativity leads to bad results. If one basketball player thinks; I hope I make this free throw, he’s much more likely to make his shot versus a player who thinks: I hope I don’t miss this free-throw.
The first player has the word “make” in his head while he’s shooting and the 2nd player has the word “miss” in his head while he’s shooting. There’s a very subtle difference in the two thoughts, but all the research shows the player who’s thinking about making his shot is much more likely to actually see the ball go through the basket.
It’s very difficult to teach a person how to think positively, especially when he’s taking a quick-release 3-pointer in front of 18,000 people while a very tall basketball player with a very long arm is rushing at him.
So, what’s the solution? If LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers three leading scorers, start making more 3-pointers and free throws, naturally, all the other Lakers players will start thinking more positively, and they’ll shoot better.
It’s a huge challenge to turn around a negative culture, whether it’s a small supermarket or a professional basketball team, but it can be done. Luke Walton is going to have to do something different with his players because the methods he’s been using to help the Lakers shoot better haven’t been working.
Also, Kuzma, LeBron, and Ingram have to find a way, either through hard work or through meditation, to make more shots, then the good vibes will start to flow through every player on the Lakers and suddenly the ball will start to find its way through the hoop.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News