The beginning of the LeBron James era has not gone exactly as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers. While the likes of Josh Hart and JaVale McGee have been exceeding expectations, the team as a whole is struggling, as they’re off to a 2-5 start.
Hart spoke about a number of issues regarding the Lakers early struggles, and had a specific point of emphasis he wanted the team to address, saying he simply wanted the team to improve their focus.
When asked if the struggles were more on the defensive end or the offensive end, Hart spoke frankly. “I think a combination of both. I think we get stagnant on the offensive end, and on the defensive end we don’t have the attention to detail we need to win,” he said.
Through seven games, the Lakers are ranked No. 7 in offensive rating and No. 23 in defensive rating, however the problems seem to go beyond the numbers.
Hart knows what the Lakers need to do to get better, and that’s what he addressed in his assessment of the team so far. “Work in progress. Still trying to get the chemistry down. That’s the biggest thing,” he said.
Developing chemistry is difficult when the Lakers are still constantly toying with lineups, but Hart won’t use that as an excuse, saying, “We’ve got to be ready when our name is called.”
Their defensive struggles are apparent, and while Hart believes the team as a whole still needs work, he reiterated the focus needed on defense in order to win. “You win games on defense,” he said. “If you focus on offense and aren’t locked in on defense, you’re going to lose. Point blank.”
Pace could also be a factor in the defensive struggles, and failing to get defensive rebounds can harm a team’s defense. Rebounding has become all the more difficult when the team has gone small, but Hart doesn’t believe that should be used as a crutch.
“Got to go get the ball. We’ve got to get the ball,” he said.
So far, Hart and the rest of the team know what their struggles are. So while it’s still early, the Lakers must find a way to corral their defense and become a physically tougher team. If not, it could be a long season.