The Los Angeles Lakers have begun a 7-game road trip against tough Eastern Conference opponents,
With two recent wins against the conference, the Lakers are now a perfect 9-0 on the road this season, and they have claimed the solo lead on the top of the Western Conference yet again.
The Lakers have started off the road trip strong, and both wins were very impressive and for different reasons.
Here are some takeaways from the two Ws against the Bucks and the Bulls.
KCP is a Serious Outside Threat
KCP got a raise this off-season for his stellar play in the Lakers’ 2020 title run. He showed everyone how effective he can be, knocking down outside shots, and defending the best guards in the league.
His role has been similar every season, but what has been most impressive about his play so far has been how efficient he has really been from the outside, and how much he has really improved. KCP is currently averaging 54.5% from the field, 55.6% from three, and 92.9% from the foul line, well on pace for a 50-40-90 season, a feat that only 8 players in NBA history have ever accomplished. That is a huge improvement from his career averages of 42.0% field goal shooting, 35.3% three-point shooting, and 79.8% free throw shooting. If that isn’t impressive enough, his effective field goal percentage has improved to 71.6% this season, from his career average of 50.3%.
With KCP continuing to perform like this, the Lakers will be relying on him heavily to aid in the quest for back to back titles.
Teams Cannot Guard Both AD and Lebron
Lebron and AD are two of the best players in the entire league, and when to put together, they are arguably the best one-two punch in the NBA. In their first year on the same team, they were able to lead the Purple & Gold to a championship.
Now in their second season together, they are currently leading the Lakers to the best record in the league.
The best thing about having these two superstars together is that if one of them is having an off night, they can help out each other and carry the load for the team. In the game vs the Bucks, AD was having quite a tough night going against Giannis only scoring 18 points on 44% shooting, but Lebron made sure to step up as he had 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. In the next game against the Bulls, Lebron was the one not shooting that well as he finished with 18 points on 38% shooting. It was AD’s turn to carry the load as he scored 37 points on 67%.
Teams always have a difficult time defending these two stars at the same time, and if they are both on the top of their game on a given night, the opponents would be in for a long night. As long as the two forwards continue having each other’s backs, the Lakers will continue being one of the best teams in the league.
The Lakers are Scary on Defense
The Lakers have the best defense in the league this year with a 103.6 defensive rating. The numbers can only say so much, but when you watch the Lakers actually play, you’d understand why they have the best defense. These past two games the Southern California team have shown the epitome of good defense.
In the game against the Bucks, the Lakers played excellent defense down the stretch to ultimately get the W. The Lakers showed how much defensive versatility they had, staying in front of their man, playing pick & roll defense excellently, and getting stops when they needed them most. They really locked in on Giannis, always putting a body on him, making him take difficult shots, drawing charges, and in the end making him foul out of the game.
Against the Bulls, the Lakers made it difficult from the get-go, shutting down key players from the Bulls like Zach LaVine, and Coby White, who has been off to a hot start this season. The Purple & Gold only allowed 33 points in the first half, as they came out with a lot of defensive energy, and executed their defensive game plan to perfection. Because of their superb first half on defense, the Bulls never recovered and the Lakers came out with the blowout win.
If the Lakers continue playing defense like this every night, and they continue having the offensive firepower that they have been showing, they will be tough to play on any given night.
The Lakers are certainly looking like one of the favorites to win it all again, but in this unprecedented season, anything can happen.
Featured Image: Jeff Haynes/nba.com