That Vaunted Lakers Defense

Kurt —  December 4, 2008

I don’t think anybody watching the last couple of games thinks the Lakers are playing as good of defense as they did to start the season. The numbers back that up (the Lakers have fallen to second in the league in defensive efficiency). The question is: How serious an issue are we really talking about here?

There has been concern after some games that the Lakers didn’t adjust their defense for a particular opponent, but Darius does a good job explaining that is not the goal of the new defense.

Understanding that we are 15-2, and what we’re doing *is* working, there is something to be said for making the opposition adjust to what we’re doing. As Kurt posted with his Strong Side Zone post and his reference to what Pelton wrote on in his post on our defense, we are playing a very aggressive defense conceptually. That means that we are dictating to the opposing offense what we want them to do. So, while it might make sense to play a particular player straight up or in a different manner than what our defensive game plan is currently showing (like the suggestions made in defending Andre Miller), we must understand that we are playing a consistent strategy to win every game against any opponent by dictating to them what we want them to do. So far, with a 15-2 record, I would say we’ve been mostly successful. Sure, there have been some lapses and some spotty execution sprinkled throughout the games, but overall I think the Lakers are playing well.

Execution has been an issue. Those mental lapses come from a comfortable feeling that can come from knowing you can win every night, and easily, and the result can be slow rotations or closeouts (for example). Most teams pay a price for that in losses, but they don’t have the Lakers offense to bail them out with high scoring wins.

To my mind, there are going to be nights like that, the job of the coaching staff is not to let it become a trend. Bottom line, with a 15-2 team in December, I’m not sure there are serious problems, just a few things to watch.