Scouting the Lakers: Magic vs Lakers Preview

  • Lakers recover on cuts well; the Magic have to strike as soon as there’s an opening, especially when Anthony Davis is on the floor.
  • AD dropped on most screen actions against Sacramento. They are prepared to stop the rim, but not always are successful at it. 
  • When AD locks the paint down when the drive is in motion, believable fakes are necessary. Fox did this all night and got his way at the rim.
  • There’s a noticeable drop-off going from AD to Wood/Hayes at the rim. Slower recoveries, less meaningful contests, and less overall awareness means more opportunities for slashers. Punishing the bigs for being late or out of position can also lead to fouls being drawn.
  • Christian Wood doesn’t handle cutters well off-ball near the rim. Drive & kicks with active motions will confuse the Lakers defense, allowing for more chances at easy points.
  • The Kings did a lot of damage in transition, particularly in attacking the rim. The Kings are not dissimilar to the Magic in the way that they like utilizing their speed and athleticism towards the rim. The Magic are yet to record a made transition 3 pointer this season, so they need to keep the Lakers honest in not requiring LA to drop to the rim every time against quick offense.
  • The Lakers find themselves in games more easily than most because of their rebounding prowess.
  • The Magic run the slowest offense in the league, having ran the least amount of possessions in the NBA so far through 6 days. This will be a change for the Lakers, having played the Nuggets (24th in pace) and the Kings/Suns (both top 10 in pace). The Nuggets’ pace made it hard for the Lakers to crawl back into the game, so the Magic may need to replicate the Nuggets’ success without having a Jokic factor.
  • Watch for both teams living at the line. The Magic rank 2nd in free throw rate, and the Lakers rank 6th.
  • Containing Gabe Vicent and prolonging his slump to start the season, at least as a shooter, is key to minimizing the Lakers bench. One way to also minimize Vincent’s impact is to bait him into fouls. He has recorded 3+ fouls in 2 of 3 games, often because of being overly physical off-ball. A big part of him being unable to get going is because he has slashed his own minutes at times by putting himself in foul trouble, while the Lakers need his guard presence off the bench.
  • Rui Hachimura has struggled to find consistent rhythm with the Lakers lineups. He had a good fourth quarter against Sacramento, but this may have been a flash in the pan more than finding something sustainable. Rui’s current role as a shooter that often has to bail out the offense if he receives a hard contest can lead to mistakes more easily than other Lakers in the lineup.
  • The Magic need to contain the D’Angelo Russell/Lebron James P&R. Russell loves being a P&R guard, and the Lakers have found ways over the years to maximize Lebron in the P&R as the roller or popper, allowing for him to more easily get to his spots. This also allows for him to better attack mismatches, so the Magic need to be more cautious in these situations.
  • Of course, this assumes Lebron James will play. Despite efforts from the league to avoid teams from resting stars, teams are still resting their stars early (see: Miami Heat). With Lebron being on a supposed minutes restriction, and the Lakers playing a grueling 2nd night of a back to back with James playing 39 minutes Sunday night.