When the Los Angeles Lakers brought home the 2020 NBA Championship, it was due in large part to their defensive identity. LeBron James and Anthony Davis set the tone and everyone else followed as the team dominated that end of the court, making everything else easier.
That is something the team strayed away from, unfortunately, and last season the Lakers were an awful defensive team. But that is something at the top of the list for new head coach Darvin Ham to change and James is right in tune with his new coach.
“Defense,” LeBron said during Lakers Media Day when asked what he hopes to see the Lakers improve this season. “Obviously you gotta be able to put the ball in the hole for sure. You know in our league there’s teams that can do that, but teams that can defend and get stops when needed, they’re just simply more successful in our league.
“The defensive side of the floor is what we’re gonna be hammering home on every single day. Understanding that we can defend, make teams take tough shots, keep them to one shot at the goal, and then rebound and secure the ball puts us in position to be successful throughout the season.”
To that point, Ham has said that the defensive side is what the Lakers will be focused on early in training camp with the belief that the offense will come. As the leader of this team, it will be on LeBron to set the tone about the importance of defense and he sounds ready to do that.
The additions of Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder will certainly help things out on the perimeter and Davis remains one of the premier defensive big men in the league as long as he is on the court. All that to say there are pieces in place to at least make some improvements on that end of the floor.
If the Lakers can at least become above average on defense it will go a long way towards getting back amongst the contenders in the West.
James believes Westbrook can have a successful season with the Lakers
Another important piece for the potential success of the Lakers will be the play of Russell Westbrook. The fit between Westbrook, James and Davis was not ideal last season, but that has not dampened the belief in LeBron about the Lakers point guard.
“Look forward to being a part of the journey with him this year. It’s going to be a great year for him and we’re going to be right there with him. We’re here and it starts tomorrow. It’s all about putting in the work and when you put in the work, you see the results.”
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