One Team, One Stat: No Howard = No Defense In L.A.

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Los Angeles Lakers, who could be in danger of missing the playoffs for just the third time in the last 38 years.

The basics
LAL Rank
W-L 45-37 t-11
Pace 96.8 5
OffRtg 105.6 8
DefRtg 103.6 19
NetRtg +2.0 10

The stat

107.8 percent - Points per 100 possessions allowed by the Lakers in 1,229 minutes with Dwight Howard off the floor last season.

The context

That number would have ranked 28th in the league over the full season. But when Howard was on the floor, the Lakers allowed just 101.7 points per 100 possessions, which would have ranked 10th in the league.

Though Howard was recovering from back surgery and dealing with a shoulder injury, he still made a huge impact on the Lakers’ defense. With him on the floor, their opponents shot worse, committed more turnovers, got to the free throw line less, and grabbed fewer offensive rebounds.

And Howard was clearly a rim protector. With him on the floor, L.A.’s opponents attempted just 31.7 percent of their shots from the restricted area. With him on the bench, their opponents attempted 37.3 percent of their shots from the restricted area. That’s a critical difference with restricted-area shots being the most efficient on the floor.

Here’s some action from a March game at Golden State in which the Warriors scored 74 points in 37 minutes with Howard on the floor and 35 points in 11 minutes (shooting 11-for-12 in the paint) with Howard on the bench…


Howard did have some help. The Lakers were much better defensively with both Howard and Metta World Peace on the floor than with just one of the two…

Lakers efficiency, 2012-13

On floor MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Howard + World Peace 1,876 106.3 99.7 +6.6 +201
Howard only 846 102.5 106.2 -3.8 -61
World Peace only 654 109.1 109.2 -0.0 -10
One of the two 1,499 105.4 107.5 -2.1 -71
Neither 573 103.8 106.2 -2.4 -35

Unfortunately for the Lakers, both Howard and World Peace are gone. In their place are Chris Kaman and Nick Young. And in terms of defense, those are two serious downgrades.

As the starting center, Kaman is the more important of the two. So it’s not a good sign that Dallas went from eighth in defensive efficiency (in 2011-12) to 20th (last season) with him replacing Brendan Haywood in the paint. Nor is it promising that the Mavs were better defensively with Kaman on the bench.

The Lakers were barely better than the Mavs last season, ranking 19th defensively. They lost their two best defenders, replaced them with bad ones, and have a coach that’s, ahem, not known to prioritize that end of the floor. This could get ugly.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

35 Comments

  1. jimbo says:

    Compared to last year’s team (45-37), this year the Lakers have lost some defense (Howard/Artest, Gasol’s footspeed), speed (Meeks), and offense (Jamison,Howard, Artest). The bench has not gained strength and without Bryant at 100% to start the season, I predict the Lakers will finish 41-41. That might get them 8th seed, but it won’t matter because they will get bounced in the first round. Unfortunately, at the end of next season there won’t be much to entice top free agents to come to LaLa town… a “defenseless” aging center, a beat up power forward/center, an aging superstar very close to retirement, point guards ???… I mean, have I missed anything ? Would Lebron or Melo want to come to this just so they can be a Los Angeles Laker and look at 16 banners hanging in the rafters won by other players ? Hmm, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see Lebron and Melo together next year… but not in LA.

  2. sports fan says:

    The writer’s last line is great – “This could get ugly.” and he may be right.
    The Lakers will be very lucky if they make the 8th seed for the playoffs.
    And IF they do they’ll get bounced in the first round.

  3. David says:

    Anyone who knows basketball can understand Howard is more valuable in terms of wins than Kobe last year; with no defense in Kobe’s game it is easy for opposing teams to score with Howard.

  4. migsrocks says:

    Pay the rent clippers. L.A will always be Lakers land,….

  5. Kobe-Rajon-Pau-Melo-Lebron@Manila says:

    Yeah I agree.. They will reach the playoffs but not the finals.. But LA will surely rebound next year with Melo and/or Lebron on board.. GO LA!!!

  6. Matt says:

    Last yea the Lakers were old, didn’t like each other, they were all injured and they had no training camp with their coach. this year they’re young, healthy, they like each other and they all want to be there, they will be better than last year….

  7. william_juan says:

    those were just stat numbers… do these stat machines measure the impact of ther injury, the energy, back to back games and the desire to win???

  8. ChrisCar says:

    I really think the Lakers can make some noise this upcoming season and playoffs, but that noise is not that loud to reach the finals. But still, the ball is round, anything can happen. After all, it’s the NBA, it’s “Where Amazing Happens”. And when I say amazing, I mean amazing playoff runs, amazing players like,Kobe showing us why he is one of the greatest players and finally all the amazing fans who still and will always believe with the team no matter what happens.

  9. DAMES says:

    tHAT LAKERS COACH . HE DON’T PLAY DEFENSE ANYWAYS. SO WHATS YOUR POINT

  10. Jojo says:

    It has been entertaining watching Kobe turn into a 16 year old, jilted, maudlin, little girl since Howard left. He is in some insane amounts of denial.

  11. Nechis2012 says:

    I don’t know what all Melo fams up in here are talking about… this is a head scratcher. Melo plays NO DEFENSE! He is known to be a drama queen, 2 drama queens in the same team might start a cat fight! I love my Lakers, but honestly, do you see the Lakers winning a championship if Melo landed in LALA land?

  12. erwin says:

    I would be happy if LA makes the playoffs but realistically, LA is in for a bad season. As a Laker fan all, I could do is hope for the better……

  13. Jayleel says:

    I love my lakers, and i wish i could say we can win a gold ball this year but you have to be REALISTIC…and a championship THIS YEAR? doesnt add up 2 me…now like i said in my previous comments a championship can be possible with the addition of melo and and a solid point. or we can even start Jordan farmar and pick up a big like a young and athletic anthony davis or a Jason thompson.

    • Laker says:

      anthony davis? very unrealistic next year, too young with the new look pelicans, they aint giving him up anytime soon. Maybe Larry Sanders, seems like hed be a good fit in LA

  14. Romeo Aguirre says:

    We need to go out and get Melo and Lamarcus Aldridge

  15. catas says:

    EVERYONE taking an easy page and writing horribly about the lakers.. how bout to something a lil more thought provoking and say what could happen on a good note… but naaa… too much going into that… and everyone loves to see blood.

  16. Jayleel says:

    Either way it goes, My lakers are not winning a CHAMPIONSHIP this year im just being real. Therefore im only looking towards NEXT season. 9 times out of 10 Melo will end up a laker. He left denver because he was stuck in the 1st round of the postseason. Now with the knicks, hes going thru the same problem but this time a round higher in the 2nd. if THIS YEAR isnt a conf. finals year (which will be almost impossible 2 do with D.rose back in chicago, indiana, brooklyn, & the title holding heat). then Melo will explore his options & LA is BIG on his radar. Kobe knows he is 35 years old coming off a achilles injury so the least we wanna do is have him playing 37 mins a game. that’ll literally kill his body. with a primetime NBA star in Melo, most offensive pressure on kobe will be relieved. with that being said Kobe may have to sacrifice by taking less shots (which will still be a bunch of shots) and becoming more of a distributor (avg. 6 ast a game last season) & to compliment that we need a solid Point who can be an offensive threat when needed & can dish the ball off (Mo williams,aaron brooks,kyle lowry, even j.j barea)

  17. AJ says:

    Lakers are going to be a better team overall than last year provided Bryant can come back and be an effective player. I believe Kobe will be back and will be productive. If Nash and Pau can stay healthy, i really think think they will be in playoffs and make some noise.

    Lakers will definitely miss Metta’s and D12′s defense. However, they will be much better this season on transition defense. Offensively Nick and Farmar are excellent addition to Lakers roster and Mike D finally will have chance to play his style of basketball. I am really looking forward for Kobe’s return and figures crossed for Nash’s health.

  18. john gambina says:

    What the Lakers are suppose to have lost in defense the lakers will make up in speed, if you believe that they are a down grade(howard metta to .young and kaman)People whom want to be here i will take over stats every time.I can say thanks for what Howard and Metta did for the team We well see i going to me a interesting season.

  19. Antoinette says:

    I have to agree with most, saying we shouldn’t expect much from the Lakers’s this year. Losing Howard was a serious flop. We couldve had a better chance of getting through to the play offs. And Melo joining the lakers, really or it’s just a romour? Eeither way I think it’s good and bad. Bad: we can’t have 2 kings in a castle, good: then I’m sure we definitely taking the championship next year.

  20. Dahabo says:

    That’s a lie go la

  21. Jayleel says:

    this season will be a down year for my lakers yea theres a slight chance we may not be a playoff team. but i know for a fact that this offseason the organization will stirke it rich in free agency or end up with top 20 pick in next years talent filled draft. its a lotta talk about melo signing with the Lakers next year but even if we dont sign him there will be plenty of high-caliber FAs to pick up. all im saying is, fellow Laker fans dont expect 2 much this season…NEXT season expect a championship and expect LA to belong to its true owner again & that staples center is not 4 rent nomore

  22. maki says:

    why is the video about HOUSTON ROCKETS OFFENSE? It should be about Lakers defense…

  23. Woody says:

    Predicting the NBA these days like predicting in the stocks market, you can speculate but there are so many factors including some bad or good news that no one can anticipate. History does not reflect on to the future, as investment companies warns, applies in the NBA.
    MWP become defensive stopper now? the same people were saying he was a burden, can’t run or jump, too old, last year.
    Howard, block shots and rebound, I give him that, but he average 5 turnovers and 3 offensive fouls a game, have no winning heart and is a liability at the end of games.

  24. emi says:

    It is not the Clipper’s town. Look up in Staples center and you see all of the championship banners belonging to the Lakers. yes clippers are a better team. But it is not there town. They need a championship to even begin that type of conversation.

  25. Big Euro says:

    Anyone else looking forward to a horrid season from the Lakers? It’s the Clippers town now?

    • Loki says:

      I’m a spurs fan so here’s an unbiased opinion on that. No. Los Angeles fans are too stuck in the past glory of 16 championships to accept a new era. In terms of dominance? Clippers run Los Angeles for now. But until they win multiple champions I don’t see LA embracing them like the lakers

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        THANK YOU… LOL

        That’s the problem with Laker fans, they are stuck in the past glory of the good’ol days when Shaq was piggybacking Kobe around lol. They are still in the denial phase of the grieving process, they have not yet accepted that the Lakers era is OVER … 4 now, not forever, but for a long time … Clippers run this now !!!!

  26. underdog says:

    there are the facts..