Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers

Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers, Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers and Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers. Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers, Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers and Speed Kills: The Biggest Flaw Of This Year’s Lakers.

As the news broke during the NBA draft, that Russell Westbrook is getting traded the Los Angeles Lakers. We all began fantasizing the inevitable showdown of Kevin Durant’s Brooklyn Nets vs LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers. The two biggest media markets in the world, with arguably the two best players in the game (sorry Giannis Antetokounmpo). This is what the people want, a star studded series with so many storylines of beef that would make the Kardashians proud. Unfortunately for everyone, this is the world of sports where you have to go out on the court and prove it. And after two games so far, the Lakers have a tremendous glaring flaw, a lack of speed.

LeBron Likes To Play It Slow

The old saying goes, ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Unfortunately we as sports fans have done that with LeBron James. We look at LeBron’s out of worldly ability and talent, specifically his size and speed on the court. That we assume always that he prefers a run and gun type of offense. So when Westbrook was traded to the Lakers, one of the main arguing points for the positive value of the trade, is the transition nightmare Westbrook, LeBron and Anthony Davis will cause teams.

The NBA has been keeping track of PACE: the number of possessions a team uses per game. Generally teams who are ranked within the top 10 of this category are consider a run and gun teams, like the 7 seconds or less Suns of the mid 2000s or The Splash Brothers Warriors of the late 2010s. Below is the rankings of both LeBron James and Russell Westbrook’s teams in pace the last 10 seasons.

LeBron JamesRussell Westbrook
2021Lakers: 21st (98.8)Wizards: 1st (104.6)
2020Lakers: 11th (101.2)Rockets: 2nd (104)
2019Lakers: 4th (103.6)Thunder: 6th (103.3)
2018Cavaliers: 9th (98.7)Thunder: 18th (97.3)
2017Cavaliers: 16th (96.7)Thunder: 9th (98.1)
2016Cavaliers: 28th (93.8)Thunder: 10th (97.5)
2015Cavaliers: 25th (93.2)Thunder: 6th (96.6)
2014Heat: 27th (91.9)Thunder: 9th (96.3)
2013Heat: 23rd (91.2)Thunder: 9th (94.5)
2012Heat: 16th (92.1)Thunder: 5th (94.1)
2011Heat: 20th (91.6)Thunder: 10th (93.8)

The counter styles that LeBron and Westbrook play in was completely flown under the radar. Only one time during that time span was a Westbrook team out of the top 10 in pace. Then conversely only twice in LeBron James during that same time span was in the top 10 of pace.

Styles Makes Fights

So what the Warriors and Suns have done to the Lakers in the first two games, is make them run on every single possession. We all know about the advanced age that’s on the Lakers roster this season, so teams will be testing out the conditioning of all of the old guys. The two big breaking points in the Warriors and Suns games for the Lakers, was the Lakers inability to stop a run. During the Warriors game in the 4th quarter, the Warriors went on a 11-3 run in 2 and half minutes to take the lead and never look back. Then during last nights Suns game, the Suns outscored the Lakers in the 2nd and 3rd quarter 71-41. Both times the Warriors and Suns were relentless in their pursuit to push the basketball and keep the game uptempo.

Right now the Lakers are going through a similar rough patch that the 2015 Cavaliers went through, when LeBron was working out the kinks with Kyrie Irving. The major difference is that in 2015 LeBron was only 30 years old, and could mask all of the problems with his greatness. The Lakers can’t fall into the trap that every single team in the league wants them to walk in, and that’s playing an uptempo style of basketball. They need to utilize their strengths of defense, size and physicality to wear down their opponents. This was the same exact formula they used to win the bubble title in 2020.

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