One of the biggest concerns for the Los Angeles Lakers coming into this season is the team’s perimeter defense. After losing their top three defenders from last season, new players will have to step up and arguably the best option in terms of perimeter defense is Kent Bazemore.
The veteran has made his name in the NBA on the defensive end and with the offseason losses as well as the recent injury to Trevor Ariza, Bazemore will be heavily relied upon. As far as his role within Frank Vogel’s defensive schemes this season, Bazemore was very clear about what he needs to do.
“Just bringing the energy,” Bazemore said. “It’s been a lot going on as far as it’s my 14th preseason so new schemes, new identity, different personnel on the floor with length at the rim. Played a lot of small ball last year in Golden State, similar in Sacramento, Portland, had Whiteside at the rim but, you’ve got DeAndre, Dwight and AD at the rim so a little bit more aggressive out on the perimeter, funneling guys to finish over the length. Being aggressive on screens, fighting over, like I say, send that guy down.
“So it’s just small things that I will continue to work on, but I like the overall scheme. I like Coach Vogel’s vision on things and historically since he’s been here, they’ve been a great defensive team. So it’s just about buying in and figuring it out.”
Buying in is always the first step to being great on the defensive end of the floor and Vogel has been able to get his Lakers team to do exactly that. Bazemore hasn’t had many opportunities recently to play with the kind of rim protection he has in L.A. this season so he has to adjust his style.
Furthermore, Bazemore believes the Lakers will need to be focused on creating turnovers and easy buckets. “I think that with our speed and athleticism, I think turning defense into offense is probably something we’ll lead our head on,” Bazemore added.
“Getting out and running with Bron, AD and Russ on the break, stretch the defense by getting to the rim and getting to the corner, opening up some space for those guys to get into the lanes. But I’m looking forward to, obviously, first two preseason games were both losses, but this I think is something when we have so much promise, it just kind of forces you to be patient. Our practices have been great, intense and there’s that transition of carrying it over is kind of what we’re looking to do.”
Getting on the same page defensively will be crucial in the Lakers’ quest to bring home another championship. Things have looked shaky in the preseason so far, but that is to be expected this early on in the process. There is some potential in the pieces the Lakers have brought in and Bazemore will be central in this journey.
Bazemore not concerned with Lakers buying into defense
Some of the players the Lakers brought in this summer aren’t known for their commitment to defense, which has led to some of the concern amongst many. But Bazemore believes the chance to win a championship will ensure that everyone gives their all to the team effort it will take for the Lakers to succeed on that end of the floor.
“Well you got to think coming here, you have a chance of winning a championship and at the end of the day, having that on your mind is what allows you to play harder, you’re gonna rotate harder, you’re gonna run harder, do everything to the tenth degree just trying to get that done… I trust in all my teammates, whoever is on the ball. It could be the worst defender on the team, five seconds to go in an iso, you’re gonna do everything in your power get a stop and we will be behind you to help. So you got to do it by committee.”
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