On both sides of the court, this five-man group has found a way to dominate against the Golden State Warriors, taking advantage of their lack of size down low.
While every facet of this lineup has been great, what’s particularly surprising is how good Bradley has looked defensively. Bradley’s shot is still developing within the Lakers system but on defense, he has been in attack mode on opposing point guards. He has done well against Stephen Curry as well as D’Angelo Russell.
For Bradley, what’s made defense come easier to him is knowing he has great rim protectors like JaVale McGee and Anthony Davis waiting down low.
“I mean first… JaVale so far… I know it’s early in the season, but he’s playing at a First Team Defensive level to me,” Bradley said. “He’s one of the best bigs I’ve ever played with defensively and it helps us and our job — my job specifically — to make sure I get into those guys, try to funnel them into the basket so those guys can have opportunities to block shots and we can get out on the run.”
“I’m going to try to do that each and every night, but it definitely makes it easier knowing we have those guys down there.”
Bradley definitely seems appreciative of the work McGee has been doing down low, and it’s certainly not going unnoticed. In the 2019 NBA preseason, McGee is fourth in the league in field goal percentage as well as third in blocks. That means on both ends of the floor, McGee has been playing at a top-tier level.
For Bradley, anything to make his job as a perimeter defender easier is important. Despite the early success of the team’s frontcourt-driven model, the NBA is still a guard’s league at the moment. Bradley, being arguably the team’s best perimeter defender alongside Danny Green, is going to have tough assignments on a nightly basis. Having the confidence to play hard knowing his bigs can clean things up will lead to more success for him.
For McGee, Davis, and Dwight Howard, they’ll need to keep playing at a high level down low so their perimeter defenders can maintain this confidence.
If this can remain a well-oiled machine defensively, the offense will come naturally and the team success after that.