Over the last several years, NBA teams have put a major focus on building elite offenses. That has taken a lot of focus off the defense for certain teams. According to Basketball-Reference, the league average for points per game has been over 111 each of the last three seasons. While offense is becoming more and more important, the Los Angeles Lakers proved last season that an elite defense can still win championships as they finished with 103.8 grade in defensive efficiency, which was third-best in the NBA.
This year, the Lakers haven’t missed a beat. They are sitting at 10-3 currently, which is the best record in the NBA. They had some defensive struggles early in the season but have figured it out since Anthony Davis called out the team’s defense. Davis lost out on the Defensive Player of the Year award to Giannis Antetokounmpo last year but it appears he’s going to make another run at the award.
Jared Dudley went on Twitter to urge the media to watch Davis’ film from Tuesday’s game against the Houston Rockets so that they can see how much he affects the game on defense.
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Frank Vogel Knows It Will Take Time for the Defense to Fully Evolve
It’s still early in the season but the Lakers aren’t fully content with how they’ve played, despite being the top team in the league. The team lost strong defenders in Danny Green, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee in the offseason. They were able to replace them with some other solid defenders in Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Schroder. That said, it’s still taking some time to make everything work perfectly. Head coach Frank Vogel doesn’t sound too worried.
“We’re evolving as a team,” Vogel said recently, via Silver Screen & Roll. “This is just part of the process, we had bumps in the road very similar to last night early in the season last year, and it’s something that we have to continue to work at each day. It’s not a big concern of mine.”
Davis off to a Slow Start on Offense
While the Lakers have had some defensive struggles, Davis has still been an impact player. He is averaging 1.7 blocks a game, which is seventh-best in the NBA. The team shouldn’t have any concerns about his defense.
However, his offensive performances haven’t been very inspiring. Through 11 games played, Davis is only averaging 22.1 points a game. That’s his lowest scoring average since he averaged 20.8 a game during his second season in the NBA.
He was the Lakers’ leading scorer last season with 26.1 points a game. It’s not necessarily a big surprise that he’s not getting as many opportunities on offense right now. The Lakers added some firepower in the offseason when they landed Schroder and Montrezl Harrell. Davis will get back to scoring a lot of points but the team still has some stuff to figure out. It’s far too early for the Lakers to start worrying about Davis’ dip in scoring production.