After the Los Angeles Lakers got off to a 2-5 start, many cited defense as the No. 1 one issue plaguing the team. During that stretch, the Lakers were a top-10 team in pace but ranked in the bottom 10 in defensive efficiency.
However, since then, it feels as if there’s been a significant change in the team’s identity. Statistics show that it can be traced to the signing of Tyson Chandler. Since his arrival on Nov. 7, the Lakers have skyrocketed from No. 23 in defensive rating all the way to No. 6 entering play Thursday.
Although, this has meant a large dip in both their pace and offensive rating, which have both been average since Chandler arrived and further declined without Rajon Rondo.
“We don’t want to slow things down but we also aren’t emphasizing as much as far as push every chance we get,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton explained after practice.
“One, because we’re more focused on our defense right now. And two, we know that Rondo is a big part of leading those breaks and playmaking and getting guys in the right spots and making sure we’re taking care of the ball. Not having him out there, we’re more just trying to play solid basketball right now.”
Walton envisions the Lakers improving their pace and overall offense once the team manages to get healthy. In the meantime, someone like Brandon Ingram is being restricted to opportunistic running.
“We want Brandon to push it when the opportunities are there,” Walton explained. “We’re just not screaming at him every time he gets the ball to fly down the court. We’re making a concerted effort to get consistency going and then slowly start to ramp up the pace again.
“It’s a work in progress. This is a new group and we’re all figuring each other out still. It’s kind of what we envisioned it being and what the reality of who we are is, and then finding what works best for our group. That will be a year-long thing.”