It was no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers would struggle defensively as they look to integrate a new roster, though it was hard to imagine they would be this bad through the early parts of the 2021-22 season.
Injuries to key personnel like Trevor Ariza and Talen Horton-Tucker are an important factor to consider when evaluating the Laker defense, but even then, they have been incredibly poor at stringing together stops. So far, the Lakers have had to outright win shootouts to earn wins and that is concerning when considering that head coach Frank Vogel makes his name on the back of his defense.
Despite the poor start, allowing 119.6 points per game in their first five contests, Vogel remains confident that his roster will be able to reach its defensive ceiling.
“That’s the plan,” Vogel said. “We have elite rim protection. We’re not as gifted with perimeter defenders as we’ve been in the last couple years but our scheme is pretty simple in terms of asking guys really to chase guys inside the 3-point line into our lane and I believe the group that we have here can do it and our goal is to be a top defense.”
One of the main reasons the Lakers are a subpar defensive team was the loss of several impact perimeter defenders. Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wesley Matthews were all plus defenders last season, and Los Angeles decided to replace them with weaker defensive counterparts in Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk and Rajon Rondo.
While rim protection is indeed a strength with Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, their work will be cut out for them as they try to cover for guys getting blown by. We have seen numerous instances of the backcourt simply getting beat and it forces the backline to have to frantically scramble and recover.
Vogel has previously said that he believes his defense will be elite despite lacking any quality or lockdown perimeter options, but so far, it is hard to see a path to getting there with the current personnel.
Vogel believes road trips build chemistry
The Lakers just wrapped up their first road trip of the season and although they split their two games, Vogel previously discussed how hitting the road would be good for building chemistry.
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