Lakers can upgrade outside shooting from within
Every offseason workout involves some variation regarding the Lakers' shooting.
Guard Steve Blake spent part of his summer altering the arc of his shot. Forwards Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks as well as rookie guard Darius Morris said their main focus this offseason involved shooting. Though rookie Andrew Goudelock has mostly concentrated on improving his ballhandling and shooting, he said he still takes at least 1,000 shots per day. That doesn't include the likelihood that Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and, yes, even Metta World Peace have focused on last season's outside shooting inconsistency as well.
Offseason workouts should always be taken with a grain of salt. After all, when is the last time you heard an athlete admit they gained weight, regressed and took it easy during the offseason? Exactly zero. But I find it highly possible that the Lakers can improve their outside shooting collectively from last year's numbers. Then, the Lakers shot 35.2% from the three-point range in the regular season, 28.9% in the postseason and 37.5% from shots from within 16-23 feet, according to Hoopdata. It's not a stretch to think Bryant (32.3%) will improve his shot after a prolonged restful offseason. The improvements individually may not seem like much. But any uptick from Fisher (39.6), Blake (37.8%) and World Peace (35.6%) could be vital. Small contributions from Ebanks, Goudelock and Morris would also help.
The key, however, will involve staying consistently strong without changing the team identity as an inside-out team. Last season, the Lakers appeared unstoppable from three-point range but quickly cooled off once defenses adjusted on the perimeter. The Lakers remained stubbornly trigger-happy even when shots stopped falling. Even so, even marginal improvement from a handful of players will prove significant in ensuring Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum receive consistent looks in the post, an area that remained inconsistent last season partly because the team's poor outside shooting prompted teams to flood the paint. Besides, the Lakers don't have the finances to make significant upgrades regarding anything, let alone outside shooting.
So as much as it is necessary not to make too much of many players touting how much they've worked on their jumpers, it may be the best option the Lakers have in correcting one of last season's most egregious problems.
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Photo: Lakers guard Steve Blake Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times / October 26, 2010