The Los Angeles Lakers are 9-9 so far in the 2021-22 season. LeBron James has missed 10 games and the Lakers struggled to win games without him. The problem is even with LeBron James in the lineup, the Lakers defense has been abysmal. The Lakers have a defensive rating of 108.7 , which ranks 14th in the league per nba.com. The Lakers are also averaging 16.6 turnovers per game, which ranks 29th in the league per teamrankings.com.
The question is what’s the reason for the Lakers poor defense? Under Frank Vogel, the Lakers have been a better defensive team than an offensive team. Led by Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers defense in the past 2 seasons finished 8th in 2020-21 and 3rd in 2019-20. The Lakers have been successful with a traditional lineup of Power forward and Center combos. First it was AD with Javale Mcgee and last year with AD and Marc Gasol. These lineups gave the Lakers more size and rim protection.
Frank Vogel has switched to a non traditional lineup to match up with the rest of the league. Mostly every team plays 1 center and 4 shooters at all times. This lineup gives teams more spacing and more ball handlers on the floor at once. Davis has traditionally been a power forward who can play center at times but not full time. The Lakers don’t have size on the perimeter outside of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, who are both in year 19. Vogel has tried variations of zone defense that have been ineffective.
Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn are not going to fix the Lakers defensive issues. The problem has to be fixed internally. LeBron James and Anthony Davis must commit to the defensive end of the floor for the Lakers to be a consistent winning team.
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