In my last article, I suggested that knowing how an individual team changes the way it attempts its shots as a game progresses might be a valuable piece of information. Today I will take a look at the Los Angeles Lakers.
To study shot types at the team level instead of at the league level, I’ve made two changes. First, I’ve lumped the layup, dunk, tip, and putback categories into one called “Close.” This will make the sample size large enough to draw reasonable conclusions. Secondly, instead of totaling the Lakers’ amount of each shot type for every second, I will be doing it for every minute. This will make the graph look much smoother, too.
Here are the Lakers’ total shots for the season per minute:
Similar to the league-wide trend, the Lakers see their midrange/post attempts start high then decrease. They also see their three-point attempts start low then increase, and their close attempts stay at a consistent level. At the start of the game, it’s clear which shots they prefer. By the end, it’s much harder to tell. Also, coming out of halftime, the Lakers’ close shots spike first, followed by midrange shots, and then three-pointers. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Lakers coaching staff at the half emphasizes getting shots near the basket to start off the second half.
Of course, this graph is a bit hard to make sense of sometimes because the data fluctuates so much. To simplify it, I’ve broken it down by quarter:
This graph presents the data in a much clearer way. With this graph the shot counts are calculated per game. Here we can see that midrange shots consistently decrease throughout the game, while three-point shots have their biggest increases in the second and fourth quarters.
Overall, in terms of shot types, the Lakers don’t seem to be that unusual of a team. They start with a lot of midrange/post shots, but by the end of the game their attempts of three-pointers have almost caught up.