As the Los Angeles Lakers finish up an awful month of December in which they went 2-14, one of the reoccurring questions about the team has been the lack of fight and energy the team has. This is especially apparent when the Lakers get a big lead.
The team has blown a number of double-digit leads by not coming out with consistent intensity and energy, and general manager Mitch Kupchak has noticed it as well.
Kupchak sees development in his young core, but in an interview with Mark Medina of the OC Register, he admitted that he and the rest of the staff are always trying to get them to play harder:
“We’re always prodding them to raise the energy level and play a little bit harder,” Kupchak said. “At this level, everybody’s talented. If you don’t bring it, you’ll fall into a group of ‘somebody that doesn’t bring it but they deserve to be in the league because of their talent level.’ You want to rise above that and you want to raise the bar with energy and effort.”
A lack of focus and an overall nonchalance has been a primary criticism for point guard D’Angelo Russell since he entered the league. The talent is apparent, but his tendency to be lackadaisical has often times led to turnovers. Likewise, many have called for rookie Brandon Ingram to increase his aggression as he is usually a laid back player who likes to pick his spots.
Kupchak understands the danger in these young players not developing that killer instinct as it can hurt their careers individually as well as the team as a whole.
The Lakers have a ton of talent with the like of Russell, Ingram, and Julius Randle, who Kupchak has been extremely impressed with, among others. But that talent won’t matter if the effort isn’t there on a nightly basis.