The Los Angeles Lakers begin the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League on Friday, with their opening contest against the Los Angeles Clippers. Jud Buechler is set to take over head coaching duties, as he gets to experiment with the likes of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Ivica Zubac.
Buechler, a recent addition to head coach Luke Walton’s coaching staff, comes in ready to help change the dynamic of the team. Although the three-time NBA champion was known for his sharp shooting, he envisions a different goal with the Lakers. As the head coach of the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League team, he has his eyes set on defensive adjustments.
The Lakers ranked last in the NBA with a defensive rating of 110.6 last season. While Ball, Ingram and the rest of the Lakers will certainly be capable of bringing the offensive punch, an attention to defense will certainly pay dividends going into the actual 2017-18 season. Buechler was asked about the defensive approach, stating that the improvement starts with the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
"We were 30th in defense last year and that has to change. It has to change right now." – Lakers summer league coach Jud Buechler
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) July 5, 2017
To compare their atrocious 110.6 defensive rating, the San Antonio Spurs finished with a 100.9 rating (No. 1) and the Dallas Mavericks finished with a defensive rating of 106.3 (No. 15). Even improving to league average level would make a major difference for the Lakers.
After the July 7 contest against the Clippers, the Lakers have two more scheduled contests against the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. If the rookies and members of the young core can get off to a tremendous start defensively, it can surely carry over into the regular season.
The Lakers are all in with this new movement, as they develop the talent on their roster in lieu of the 2018 free agency period.