The NBA officially announced its All-Defensive teams and despite leading the league in defensive rating, the Los Angeles Lakers saw none of their players on either of the two teams.
The First Team featured 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz along with Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks. The Second Team featured Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle of Philadelphia and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers.
While no singular player was named to a team, many Lakers did receive votes. Guards Alex Caruso, Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, as well as big man Anthony Davis all received second-team votes according to Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated:
Others receiving votes for All-Defensive teams: pic.twitter.com/03lgMNIZXH
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 14, 2021
A Laker not being named to an All-Defensive team is unfortunate but makes sense as there was no singular standout contributing to the team’s defensive success, especially with Davis’ injury. The Lakers were successful because of how they worked and connected as a team and that showed in their team numbers, but won’t often lead to individual recognition.
The three guards mentioned all contributed different things on the defensive end for the Lakers. Schroder was excellent at using his speed and intensity to wreak havoc on opposing guards while Caruso was maybe the team’s most reliable and versatile perimeter defender, taking on all different kinds of players.
Caldwell-Pope would often guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player and did a more than admirable job and though Davis’ injury made it unlikely he would be named, he was still elite when healthy early in the season.
It is also worth noting that LeBron James did not receive any votes, which is a bit surprising considering his increased focus and effort on that end. But like Davis, injuries ruined any chances of him garnering major consideration.
Pelinka focused on bringing another championship to Lakers
While individual accolades are always appreciated, the ultimate goal is always to win a championship and that remains the case for Lakers VP of operations Rob Pelinka heading into this offseason.
“I think that we feel like the roster we had this year was a championship-caliber roster and obviously there were a lot of things that came into the mix that weren’t within our control that kept us from winning a championship.
“That has to be the goal every year and the only way to get there is with hard work,” Pelinka said. “So of course we’ll learn from this season and from how the roster was constructed and we’ll apply that wisdom and experiences to what we do going forward.”
Pelinka and the front office will do everything possible to get the Lakers back into championship contention, but one thing that won’t change is the defensive identity that has been a staple of this team for the last two years.
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