Despite a strong start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t satisfied with how they’ve performed. They currently rank third in the NBA with a 105.5 defensive rating but Anthony Davis recently called out the team for playing “s***” defense. According to LeBron James, the team heard Davis’ comments “loud and clear.”
LeBron also made the Lakers’ defensive goals very clear.
“Our goal is to be the No. 1 defensive team in the league,” LeBron said Sunday. “And it’s going to take our film sessions, it’s going to take our shootarounds, it’s going to take the practices when we do get an opportunity to get on the floor and then the games, to continue to work those habits.
“We added five new guys to our rotation this year, pretty much, in [Montrezl Harrell], [Dennis Schroder], Wes [Matthews], Marc [Gasol] and also Talen [Horton-Tucker]. We’re all getting accustomed to one another, getting down to our rotations and what we want to build, how we build out from the paint to the perimeter, but we want to be the best defensive team in the league and tonight was a good start to that.”
The Lakers finished last season with the third-best defensive rating in the NBA at 106.1. Based on that statistics, the team’s defense has actually improved over last season. However, they still aren’t No.1 in the NBA so there’s work to do.
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Davis Believes Lakers Responded to His Comments
Davis hasn’t always been the most vocal of leaders despite being one of the two best players on the team. Now that it’s his second year in Los Angeles, it’s clear he’s taking on more of a leadership role. He believes the team responded to his recent comments about the defensive struggles.
“I only speak the truth,” Davis said. “They look at me as one of the leaders on the team; me and LJ. If I feel something, I’m going to say it… I’m going to say what I feel if I know it’s going to help the team, and it was the truth. It’s not like I was fabricating it. It was the truth. We were really bad defensively, and have been bad defensively.
“Even though it’s a young season and we just are starting to learn each other, we still can control the defensive end. I’m not sure if what I said to the media got back to the guys but I feel like we picked it up tonight and, like I said, we’ve got to build on it.”
As LeBron pointed out in the previous quote, the Lakers do have a lot of new pieces. Considering the fact that the team didn’t have much of an offseason, it was always going to take time for everybody to work well together.
Lakers Defense Will Be Just Fine
With the Lakers essentially trading Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee for Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell, they gave up a lot of size and athleticism at center. Gasol and Harrell are better offensive players but Los Angeles doesn’t need a ton of offense from the position. Gasol is still a solid defender but Harrell is undersized and can become a liability from time to time.
That said, the Lakers should be just fine. Come playoff time, Davis will be able to help mask a lot of the issues Harrell has on defense. As long as Gasol stays healthy, the team should be just fine on defense.