Some were shocked Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Lakers dropped Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series to the Portland Trail Blazers 100-93. After all, the Lakers had earned the coveted No. 1 seed, while the Blazers scraped into the playoffs by winning a play-in game. But the opening playoff game laid bare LA's biggest weakness and it's one the franchise has had for years: The roster is utterly devoid of shooters.
Tuesday night against the Blazers, the Lakers went 5-for-32 from 3-point land. That's 15.6 percent. That's horrific in a league that relies so heavily on 3-point shooting. It feels like the franchise has spent years refusing to catch up to modern basketball.
The Lakers have been unable to find reliable shooters for years. This isn't just a 2019-20 problem, it's been systemic for a long time. It was made worse before the 2018-19 season when executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka decided to surround the newly-signed LeBron James with "playmakers" instead of shooters. The Lakers wound up missing the playoffs, though James' injury issues could be blamed for that.
Last summer, Pelinka signed Danny Green hoping to add shooting, but Green has fallen well short of expectations. He's hitting just 36.7 percent from deep on the year and the Lakers finished the regular season ranked 21st leaguewide. You simply can't win in the modern NBA if you can't shoot, especially when your offense is built around a guy like James, whose game centers on finding open guys off of drives.
As stated, this isn't just a two-year aberration for the Lakers. The franchise has neglected the 3-point line for years and now it's biting them. Here's a look at where they've ranked in the NBA in 3-point shooting going back to 2014:
-2019-20: 21st, 34.9 percent
-2018-19: 29th, 33.3 percent
-2017-18: 29th, 34.5 percent
-2016-17: 22nd, 34.6 percent
-2015-16: 30th, 31.7 percent
-2014-15: 17th, 34.4 percent
That's just a horrific track record.
LeBron James is at his best when he's driving and finishing or kicking it out to the perimeter. Anthony Davis is at his best when he's working on the block down low. If that duo is going to work for the Lakers the rest of the team has to be able to hit open shots. Right now the Lakers can't do that. Their offense is broken.
The Lakers have been largely terrible in the NBA's Orlando bubble. At this point it wouldn't be shocking if they were run out of the postseason in the first round. Regardless of what happens, Pelinka has to find shooters this offseason. There's no excuse to continue ignoring the reality of the modern game like this.