The 2019 NBA preseason trip to China was supposed to be something to help bring the Los Angeles Lakers closer together.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control, it turned into a massive controversy in which the games themselves nearly didn’t take place.
Many teams take these long preseason trips overseas as the NBA looks to expand internationally. Growth for the game is always excellent, but one thing that doesn’t get brought up is what it can take away from the team in regards to practice time and development.
For the Lakers, that has manifested itself on the offensive side of the ball. While the defense has been excellent, the offense has been middle of the road and according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, some within the organization point to that China trip as the reason for that:
On the other side, James and Davis are meshing fantastically, even though almost everyone you speak to in Lakers circles is convinced that the offense is woefully behind where it will ultimately land because the team lost considerable practice time during its chaotic trip to China last month.
This isn’t something exclusive to the Lakers. Coincidentally, former Lakers head coach and Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton pointed to his team’s preseason trip to India as a reason for their early struggles, noting they had little actual practice time in order to implement a new system.
The Lakers have been able get by with an average offense because of their outstanding defense, but Danny Green isn’t too worried about it:
“For two weeks in, it’s not too bad,” said Danny Green, L.A.’s veteran swingman.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has worked hard to ease the regular season schedule on players by giving them more rest between games, lessening back-to-backs overall. He has done that by elongating the regular season overall, which has dipped into the time for training camp and preseason.
Teams have barely a week of camp before their first preseason games these days so for those with new systems, time is at a major crunch. To have that time lessened even further by a long overseas trip makes it extremely difficult for a team.
What this does mean for the Lakers is that there is plenty of room for growth offensively.
As long as their defense remains at this high level, they’ll become even more dangerous once they have more time to come together on offense.