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Magic Johnson: Lakers will improve because they'll shoot fewer 3s

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Magic Johnson gives a thumbs up to Mike D'Antoni being gone.  (USATSI)
Magic Johnson gives a thumbs up to Mike D'Antoni being gone. (USATSI)

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Lakers legend Magic Johnson hated Mike D'Antoni as Lakers coach. There's really no more accurate way to describe it. Johnson made constant comments in the media, on television as a studio analyst, on Twitter. He blasted D'Antoni up and down. He hated the lack of defense, he hated the style, and most of all, he hated the losing.

He openly rejoiced when D'Antoni resigned this summer.

In an interview about new coach Byron Scott, Johnson says that next season's team, which has even less talent than last year's after Pau Gasol's departure, will be better based on one simple fact. They'll shoot fewer 3-point shots.

Wait, what?

Johnson was optimistic that the Scott signing is a step in the right direction for the Lakers, despite no Anthony and no Gasol.

"The team is better than what we had last season, because we have more guys who can do more things than just shoot three-pointers," said Johnson. "If I don't see another three-pointer from a Laker team, I'll be happy."

via Magic Johnson: Jerry Buss wanted Byron Scott to coach Lakers - LA Times.

Well, I've got news for you, Hall-of-Fame, undisputed top-10, arguably top-five player of all time Magic Johnson: The 3-point shot is kind of important in today's game. Additionally, Pro Basketball Talk broke down the fact that of all the things the Lakers did terribly last year, shooting 3s was something they actually did well.

In other words, the Lakers were more efficient on 3-pointers last season than any team has ever been on all shots.

Of course, if the 2013-14 Lakers shot only 3-pointers, their efficiency would have dropped considerably. I'm in no way suggesting their outside shooting was the greatest offensive weapon in NBA history. But considering how well that shot stacks up with the production of all-time great offenses – even the five Johnson-led teams in the top 30 of points per shot – 3-point-attempts from the 2013-14 Lakers were incredibly valuable.

via Magic Johnson: ‘If I don't see another 3-pointer from a Laker team, I'll be happy' | ProBasketballTalk.

It's mostly an off-handed comment about how many 3s the Lakers shot. Couple of more funny stories about this:

The Lakers were actually seventh in percentage of total shots that were three point attempts.

The six teams ahead of them in percentage of shots that were threes were all mostly good offenses (per 100 possessions): Houston (4th), Miami (5th), Phoenix (8th), New York (11th), Brooklyn (14th) and Atlanta (18th).

To Johnson's point, the Spurs were 16th in the regular season in the percentage of shots that were threes and 10th of all teams in the playoffs.

Byron Scott's Cavaliers were 18th in their percentage of shots that were 3s in 2013 before he was fired, so maybe Johnson will get his wish.

A lot of this comes from the fact that 3-pointer simply wasn't as big a weapon when Johnson played as now. If Johnson's point was "you need balance on both sides of the ball, and between the interior and perimeter offensively," that's a reasonable comment. This more than anything seems at best an outdated curmudgeonly comment and at worst just another petty shot from Johnson towards D'Antoni when the horse is already dead, buried, decomposed, and has had its carbon redistributed throughout the environment.

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