The Los Angeles Lakers have a bit of a predicament on their hands. They're gunning for a playoff spot in the West one year after they barely got in with the 7-seed and have their star Kobe Bryant returning from an Achilles' tendon tear. Their championship aspirations from one year ago have packed up and gone to the Houston. Mike D'Antoni's team has to recalibrate what they can realistically expect to do and while competing for a playoff spot when some are already writing them off is realistic it requires Bryant returning close to form and doing so in a timely manner. To figure out how to make the playoffs the Lakers may have to figure out exactly what it is they do well. Last season they struggled to keep their aging but effective point guard on the court and healthy enough to move the famous Seven Seconds Or Less system. They had Dwight Howard struggling to stay healthy even though he did play. Pau Gasol seemed to be a mess both psychologically (D'Antoni has admitted he messed with Pau's role in the offense to try to placate Dwight) and physically. Even with all of that Bryant helped carry them to the eighth best offense in the league scoring 105.6 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers may not have the luxury of having Kobe Bryant back and will rely heavily on Nash and Gasol to be healthy and be weapons on offense early in the year until their star shooting guard is back and ready to carry the scoring responsibility. Until then they have a bit of a secret weapon who gets overlooked in just how important his role can be. They have Nick Young the ultimate gunner in the NBA. The role of the gunner in the NBA has always been a bit of a contentious topic for basketball purists and the advanced stats community. Guys like J.R. Smith Jamal Crawford and Monta Ellis are tough to judge because they do the thing we like (scoring) but they don't necessarily do it the way we like it (efficiently). Not only do these guys put up a ton of shots that many of us find questionable but they often don't make the extra pass and end up forcing the action. However that's where I think Young sets himself apart from the other more celebrated members of his gunner fraternity. When Nick Young has the ball you know a shot is going to be created by him and you'll always have a chance to score. The impact that can have on your offense can be incredible because you're not often wasting possessions. Young doesn't pass all that much; he also doesn't turn the ball over. For a guy with such a high career usage rate (23.3 percent) it's impressive that he's never had a season in which he broke 100 assists or 100 turnovers in any given season. In the history of the NBA there are four players who have been so shot happy while not giving the ball up to anybody else. Setting the criteria for a 21.0 percent usage rate scoring at least 800 points and not amassing 100 turnovers or 100 assists only Nick Young (three times) J.R. Smith (once) Marcus Thornton (twice) and Dale Ellis (once) have pulled this off. It's easy to dismiss this as a weapon that doesn't work because when has Young ever been a successful player in the NBA? He really hasn't. Other than a brief playoff run into the second round with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011-12 Young has only played in four other playoff games in his six-year career. But that's where Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers get to finally harness the power of Young.
Lakers have the chance to unleash Nick Young, the ultimate gunner
CBS Sports | Sep 22