Lakers News: LeBron James Encouraged By Continued Defensive Effort Despite Shooting Struggles
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the best efforts of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are off to an 0-3 start due entirely to their offensive failures. The Lakers’ perimeter shooting has been absolutely abysmal so far this season and they are currently the only team in the league with an offensive rating below 100.

The defensive side, however, has been the complete opposite. The energy and effort on that end of the floor has been excellent throughout all three games and has given them opportunities to win despite their porous shooting. Often times the effort on defense wanes when a team isn’t hitting shots, but that has not been the case for the Lakers and LeBron is encouraged by them continuing to play hard on defense.

“Well it hasn’t all year. For the first three games, it hasn’t,” James said. “We still can’t shoot a penny in the ocean but it hasn’t stopped us from competing and defending. That’s given us a chance in all three games to win.”

The Lakers currently rank second in defensive rating, something that is very hard to do when you’re terrible on offense as more misses usually allows the opposition to get out in transition and get more easy buckets.

One huge factor for the Lakers has been their ability to force turnovers. They lead the league in steals per game as a team and rank in the top-10 in blocks as well and LeBron wants them to continue what they’re doing while also limiting their fouls.

“It’s just a byproduct of us being in the right place at the right time,” LeBron added when asked about the team’s ability to get steals. “I think it’s understanding that no one is on an island by themself, when guys penetrate, we try to get multiple bodies in front of bodies and if the ball is on the ground or it’s loose, we try to get good hands in there.

“We got some really good steal guys on our team so I think the one thing that we’ve done in the first three games is we’ve fouled too many times. Tonight, they went to the line 27 times and obviously over the first couple games we fouled too many times vs. the Clippers and too many times vs. Golden State. So when you’re defending at a high level like we are, we can’t allow teams to get easy buckets by going up there and not facing the defense with free throws.”

Great defense can be completely undone by bad fouls and allowing teams to get to the free-throw line. The Lakers have little room for error right now with how bad the offense is, so bailing teams out with fouls is something the Lakers simply can’t afford to do.

James says Lakers should be mad and frustrated at 0-3 start

The defense of the Lakers has been encouraging so far this year, but the team remains 0-3 despite their best efforts on that end of the floor. With the rough start it only makes sense for the team to be frustrated and James would be more concerned if it weren’t that with these Lakers.

“The mood right now is you just lost,” James said. “If you’re around a group of guys that are excited after a loss then that’s the worst business that you can be in so that’s the mood right now. But I’ll leave my frustration and what I have here. Once I drive out the tunnel, I’m gonna leave it here. That’s it.

“And I got to move on to tomorrow, how I can get better tomorrow and then for this tough road trip we got coming up in Minnesota and starting in Denver. But guys should be mad and frustrated and thinking about plays where they could’ve been better or done a better job throughout the course of the 48-minute game.”

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