At 21-3, it is safe to say the Los Angeles Lakers have exceeded 2019 NBA preseason expectations as they have come together more quickly than people anticipated.
Los Angeles All-Star duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James have transformed the Lakers from a solid playoff team to a legitimate championship contender. In their most recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the two combined for 82 of the team’s 142 points with Davis dropping a season-high 50 points.
Although Davis and James make a formidable one-two offensive punch, it has been the defense that has propelled them to the top of the league standings. Head coach Frank Vogel has done an excellent job in crafting a defense that has stifled opposing teams which in turn has helped fuel their offense.
Vogel discussed the difference between this Los Angeles team and his previous stops with the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic.
“It’s the most competitive and talented defensive roster I’ve ever coached,” Vogel shared. “The depth that we have, the perimeter defense that we have, the IQ with LeBron quarterbacking everything in the game and pregame, helping establish the plans and everything, we have a high ceiling on that end of the floor.”
Vogel also identified how deep the roster is and what it takes to get minutes.
“We have great depth. It’s sort of a minimum requirement. You have to perform at a certain level on the defensive end to play on this team. That’s sort of elevated the care factor,” Vogel revealed.
General manager Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office keyed in on three-point shooting and defense when looking to fill out the roster in the offseason and so far, players like Danny Green and Avery Bradley have made noticeable impacts in those two areas. Re-signing Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has also shown to be prudent moves as the two guards have established themselves as pivotal rotation players in Vogel’s lineups.
While Davis has put together a 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year campaign, it has been James who has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the defensive end. The 34-year-old has looked rejuvenated playing in Vogel’s system.
Nearly every championship team in the history of the league boasted a great defense and the purple and gold fit that profile through a quarter of the 2019-20 NBA season.
It will be interesting to see if they are able to keep up this level of defensive play as the season wears on.