Analyzing the Abysmal Defensive Play of the Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have long had a reputation for being one of the most formidable teams in the NBA. They would either always be in the finals (and winning) or they would be in the semi-finals. With superstars like Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, just to name a few, this is a team that is impossible not to watch. However, there have been some problems for the Lakers this season and they just cannot seem to win. In fact, it got so bad that former NBA Superstar Charles Barkley even declared during the team's losing streak at the start of the season that he would not eat until the Lakers won a game. Luckily for Charles Barkley, they did win one game after he said that and so he got to eat.
What Is Up with the Lakers?
This is not a losing team, seeing that they are teeming with talent. Perhaps it is a better idea to ask what is down with the Lakers since they cannot seem to get into the groove and display the right form to get them into the playoffs. First things first—and it is also a move to get the obvious out of the way—the Lakers lack defense.
It is virtually impossible to build a good, solid defense when nine of the players on the lineup are constantly being rotated due to the injury plague that is plainly inevitable in the sport. Last year, the Lakers experienced the same injury plague but at a much less devastating level with star Dwight Howard. They struggled to contain their opponents along the perimeter but they did not break down like they are doing this season. It is looking bad for the Lakers and if they do not fix their defense soon, they are likely not going anywhere.
Is It a Coaching Error?
Think back to when the Lakers were at their best and you will see that the Legendary Phil Jackson was at the helm. This basketball coaching legend made use of two things to bring his team to the champions and they were: the triangle offense and solid defense.
Apparently, defense is the key. The very lack of that is plaguing the Lakers right now. It is easy to blame the fact on the new coach, and some are saying it is a case of mismanagement. It could be that Scott has other areas he'd like to focus on but the most important element of the game is neglected. It could also be the fact that former coach D’Antoni seemed to believe that the best defense was a good offense and the Lakers are rebounding from that.
Scott has been getting a lot of criticisms, especially every time the team is in a painful losing streak, and a lot of fans are expecting him to do something or the media and netizens will not stop saying negative things about his coaching skills.
What are the Numbers Like?
The numbers for the Lakers are very dismal and they show just how clearly this top team has fallen, and so quickly at that. This season, the LA Lakers are ranked 29th when it comes to points that are allowed per contest. The team surrender about 105.6 for every game they play. Last January, they played about 15 games and the unit allowed a whopping 114.7 points per game and were well on their way to a 3-12 record and to make it worse, the Lakers were dropping like flies. Such an event usually takes a massive toll on the defensive consistency of the team. Then February came and it wasn’t too bad as the team collected a 2-3 record but lowered the number of points by 12 counts. As the season began, it seems like the Lakers hurt their defensive statistics by playing at a terribly high pace—unintentionally, of course.
What is the Defense Really Like?
You hear all these things about how the Lakers' defense is so weak and so bad but just how bad? And why is defense so important? Think about it this way: the defensive rating is usually the ultimate measure of how well or how badly a team performs in terms of getting stops during the game. Sad to say that when it comes to this team that once rocked all corners of the Staples Center every game, the numbers are not too pretty. To date, the Lakers are ranked 25th in that department seeing that they allow about 108.5 points for every 100 possessions. Now to put that into perspective, take a look at the widely recognized best defensive squad in the NBA, the Indiana Pacers. They allow a middling 96.2 points for every 100 possessions in the games they play. Most fans and experts agree that the lackluster defensive play by the Lakers is Public Enemy no. 1 at the moment and may just be the thing to get them bumped off even before the playoffs.
Now taking a break from the statistics of the team, simply watching the once-formidable Lakers struggling with their defense on the court is painful and alarming at the same time. Viewers can’t help but feel that a breakdown is on the verge of happening and it will be unpleasant.
What Changes are to be Expected?
You would think a team that has the amazing Kobe Bryant would rally and perform miracles. Sadly, that is not the case these days. For this season, the Lakers are known as the team with the worst defense by a healthy margin. The sad part here is that if this keeps up and they do nothing, they will have the honor (or dishonor, rather) of having the record as the team with the worst defense for this century. No team since the year 2000 has ever finished with a number of 114.7 points allowed for every 100 possessions.
Byron Scott really can’t just watch anymore though he will have to since he is the coach and he is paid to watch, but he really has to make some major changes to the team’s playing. Mark Medina from the LA Daily news reported that the coach has admitted that patience is running thin in the team and for the team, and that he is so close to making some drastic changes in the lineup right after the Lakers actually allowed seven players from the Warriors to score double digits in a previous game with the latter. If they do that again, the team is bound to go on a downward spiral that will be hard to escape. When talking about the defense of the Lakers, Scott stated that they can either do it, can’t do it, or just won't do it.
Carlos Boozer ,who plays forward for the team, was said to have shot back by saying that it has to be a team effort and it isn’t just the guys on the court but the coaching staff and everyone else that is involved with the Lakers. When it all boils down to it though, the Lakers are just not that big of a defensive team. He might tweak the system some but that is unlikely to bring the results that he hopes for. The best thing he can hope for is that Kobe Bryant displays his legendary explosive plays in the court and that it is enough to give his team the boost to win. But again, that is something that might not happen since the Black Mamba seems to not be able to get back in his grind either even before he was gone for a while due to an injury and Scott's directive. Now that he is more healthy, Lakers' fans are earnestly hoping he will take the lead once more and revive the pulse of the team. This might just be a year that the Lakers never forget but hopefully, they can bounce back.
So What Now?
The only leftover drama the 2014-15 season for the Lakers is to determine whether L.A. will in fact be selected in the top five of the draft in June. Holding on to the selection is vital to the efforts the team is making to reconstruct probably the most successful basketball machinery the NBA has ever seen. At present, the team possesses the league's fourth-worst record. The team can still move behind the Minnesota Timberwolves or even move forward before the Orlando Magic in terms of standings. The team could have about an 83% possibility of clinching in the top five with the fourth-worst record. They could have around a 38% chance of crashing the top three and a 12% prospect of going for the top overall choice. With these probabilities under consideration, it's safe to assume that the Lakers may receive a sought after top-five draft selection.