Finding the right balance for an NBA team is a hard thing to achieve and right now, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t doing it very well.
The Lakers are having a lot of issues currently and have sunk to seventh in the Western Conference with a disappointing 17-18 record.
Making it to the Finals – let alone the playoffs – is seeming more and more like a long shot every day.
The Lakers are full of some impressive scorers such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook but they are utterly lacking when it comes to defense and that’s positively killing them.
What are the biggest defensive problems that are destroying LA’s hopes and dreams of another championship?
Injuries & COVID
After another pitiful loss to the San Antonio Spurs the other night, James had a few choice words to say about the team’s defense.
James blamed the defensive woes on the slew of injuries and COVID-related absences that are devastating the roster.
According to Lakers Nation, James had this to say:
“We don’t need a full roster, we just need a lot of our guys back. All of our defensive guys are in health and safety protocols – Avery, Baze, TA [Trevor Ariza] and Austin [Reaves]. That’s all our defensive guys. We’ve got a couple more but those are our guys.”
He’s not wrong: the guys listed are some of the most important parts of LA’s defense.
It can’t be denied that player availability has been a huge problem for LA this year, as it has been for most teams thanks to the nagging coronavirus pandemic.
Fizdale expressed frustration about losing Trevor Ariza to health and safety protocols after two great games, but reiterated that Lakers can only "control what they can control"
— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) December 24, 2021
It seems that the players who have had the worst luck when it comes to injuries and COVID protocols are the ones with the best defensive abilities.
That is leaving a team that is heavy on shooters but light on defenders.
However, even when the players James mentioned were in rotation the Lakers were still losing games left and right, which suggests the problem isn’t just related to losing these guys.
No Solid Lineup
Head coach Frank Vogel has a lot of talent to choose from with his team.
However, the problem is that he hasn’t set on a firm, reliable lineup.
Aside from James, the players in rotation are fluid and seemingly always changing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you the Lakers defense pic.twitter.com/tds9tuBJTT
— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) December 28, 2021
This means that the team hasn’t found a combination that works.
Vogel hasn’t even decided how to use some of the players, which is also contributing to their defensive problems.
For example, Davis is sometimes a power forward and sometimes a center.
And James is sometimes making plays like a point guard but has also been used in other positions, including center.
As you can see, the position most associated with defense – the center – is one that hasn’t found a solid fit in LA.
The team’s lineup isn’t solid and it’s leading to confused plays, awkward chemistry, and many missed opportunities.
The Lakers have a personality crisis and it’s manifesting itself with some of the worst defense in the league.
That has to change if the team wants any chance at success this season.