Exit Kobe. Exit Roy Hibbert. Enter Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. Exit Byron Scott. Enter Luke Walton.
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The still-young season features multiple still-young teams that have increased both their pace and fantasy prospects. (Brooklyn, Phoenix, Denver).
But none have leapt so far, so fast as the Lakers.
Los Angeles is now 12th in offensive rating, 10th in effective field goal percentage, ninth in true shooting percentage, fourth in pace, seventh in assists, 10th in 3-pointers and fifth in steals. (But just 25th in blocks. Nobody’s perfect).
And one of the impressive aspects of the individual Lakers’ fantasy improvement is how they’re doing with essentially a series of timeshares. Ten Lakers are currently averaging over 20 minutes a night. No Lakers average 30 MPG. On most teams, this distribution of minutes would spell roto regression. But these Lakers are statistically better for it.
So which individual players have benefited from the Lakers’ new look? All of them.
Lou Williams, PG/SG 2015-16 Player Rater: 3.12 2016-17 Player Rater: 7.01 (leads Lakers)
Lou Williams is averaging 23.5 minutes per game. That puts him on pace for his lowest amount of playing time in five seasons. Yet, somehow, he’s registering career highs in points per game (16.6), 3-pointers (1.9) and steals (1.3).
Limited Dennis Rodman Jersey Lou Williams is what happens when you start parsing out a departed superstar’s touches in a higher-paced, more efficient system. In a career stuffed with super-compacted superb stats, Williams is averaging a career high 28.2 percent usage rate. He’s destroying his previous career high in PER (23.00 vs. 20.22 back in 2011-12).
Williams has also taken over as Lakers closer. He’s third in the NBA in fourth quarter scoring. On a young team still learning how to win — yet has already won half as many games as last year’s Lakers did in a full season — Walton’s given Williams an incandescent late-game green light.