The Los Angeles Lakers are a much different team than anyone could’ve envisioned in this early season. Instead of a team that would have to outscore the opposition because of defensive struggles, the Lakers are currently a top-10 defensive team who are struggling to knock down outside shots.
After allowing an average of 119 points in their first three games, the Lakers have held three of their last four opponents under 100 points. The lone exception, the Toronto Raptors, barely surpassed it with 101 points.
Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma has been a big part of the Lakers’ solid start to the season and has seen the Lakers’ mindset on defense change from the preseason to now.
“We’re really just coming together, all looking forward to playing defense,” Kuzma said after practice Wednesday. “In the preseason that wasn’t the case, I felt.”
Defense is always important to the success of any team, but most young players come into the league focused on scoring and offense in general. Sometimes it takes actually seeing the results of locking on defense to get everyone to buy in and that may be the case with this team.
One thing that has helped the Lakers on the defensive end is the ability of their bigs to switch out on guards and contain them on the perimeter. Kuzma, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. have all been active and that leads to stops and opportunities in transition for all of them.
Kuzma is known more for his offensive exploits. He is currently third on the team in scoring at 14 points per game on 53.3 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent from deep. That being said, he’s already understanding that everyone must buy in on defense for the team to be successful and they are doing that.
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