Los Angeles Lakers: Can Dion Waiters be a secondary playmaker for the team?

The Los Angeles Lakers signed Dion Waiters to be a secondary playmaker but will their offensive system allow him to fulfill the role?

There is a perception around the league that the Los Angeles Lakers signed Dion Waiters to be a secondary playmaker. Harrison Faigen of SB Nation stated two weeks ago that signing Waiters was the team’s latest attempt in trying to solve their secondary playmaker issue.

But can Waiters be a secondary playmaker for the Lakers when the league comes back from the COVID-19 hiatus? The answer is no, as he is a player who excels with the basketball in his hands. Waiters’ best statistical season came during the ’16-17 campaign, as he touched the ball a career-high 56.9 times a game.

These touches allowed him to drive to the basket 14 times, where he amassed 5 points and 1.8 assists. The production on the drive accounted for 31.6 percent of his scoring output and 41.7 percent of his assists as he averaged 15.8 points with 4.3 assists.

The assists allowed him to create 11.2 points per game. Consequently, he generated 27 points per game for the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, Waiters won’t be able to have the ball in their hands because of the offense the Los Angeles Lakers run. The Lakers run a post-up offense, as they are second in the league, averaging 14.5 post-ups a game.

The post-up offense limits the amount of times Waiters will be able to touch the ball, as perimeter players are forced to stand behind the 3 point line in the role of a spot-up shooter, just like Rajon Rondo and Kyle Kuzma.

A prime example of this was found late in the second quarter of a road game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Kuzma stood in the right corner as Anthony Davis had the basketball in the low post on the other side of the court. Davis tried to back down until he saw that LeBron James was cutting to the basket. Consequently, he passed the basketball to James for a layup.

Shooting is Waiters’ most glaring flaw.he has a career 3 point shooting percentage of 34.8 percent on 4 attempts. This is below the average in the league, 35.7 percent on 26.2 attempts. Consequently, defenders will choose not to guard him, as they want to do two things: 1) encourage him to take his weakest shot and 2) make his teammates psychologically aware that they shouldn’t pass him the ball once he misses.

More importantly, the Lakers’ head coach, Frank Vogel, has failed to put his players in the best position to succeed, as even knowing the (bad) track record of Rondo ( 31.6 percent from the behind the arc) ; and Kuzma ( 32.7 percent from the behind the arc), they are still attempting at least 38 percent of their field goal attempts from behind the arc.

The combination of all these factors makes it unlikely that Waiters will be able to succeed in the role of secondary playmaker.

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