The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to a somewhat promising 4-5 start this season. The surprising thing about Luke Walton’s squad so far this year is how they have been successful.
Expected to have to outscore teams thanks to a lack of defense, it has been the offense that has struggled so far out the gate. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ defense has been carrying the team and keeping them in every game since a lackluster opener against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Walton came into training camp saying that defense would be their main focus and it has paid off so far. Despite the offense continuing to lag behind, Walton tells Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report that it will continue to be the primary focus of the Lakers:
“Defense is what wins championships. Until we get good at that, that’s the most important thing that we’re going to continue to focus on,”
Walton added that he is fine with the offense being sacrificed for defensive improvement:
“One hundred percent,” he said earlier this week. “Offense is much easier. Players like playing it more. That will come when we’re ready for it. But right now, the fact that the defense is holding us in games, I love that.”
Walton deserves credit for focusing hard on that end of the floor and the results are bearing that out right now. The Lakers currently rank 10th in the NBA in defensive rating, ninth in steals, and sixth in blocks. The Lakers have had a chance to win in the fourth quarter of every game since the season opener and defense is the reason.
At some point the Lakers will need their offense to step up and get going, especially from three-point range. Until that time comes however, their defense will continue to give them a chance as long as it stays at the level it has been.
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