Wesley Matthews Adjusting To Fit Lakers’ Defensive Schemes
Wesley Matthews
Adam Pantozzi-NBAE

The arrival of Wesley Matthews was a major offseason coup for the Los Angeles Lakers. The veteran guard appears to be the ideal replacement for Danny Green, who was included in a trade that brought in Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Matthews is a capable defender and a proven sharpshooter, a 3-and-D player L.A. desperately needed. Last season, he also gained a unique experience playing on a championship team, starting for the Milwaukee Bucks alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Now in his 12th season, the 34-year-old will be playing for the defending NBA champions, a team built around some of the league’s best players, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, and preaching a defense-first approach.

And interestingly, Matthews said head coach Frank Vogel’s defensive schemes surprised him with their unique intricacies. “It’s just getting the nuances of it, understanding what everybody is strong at,” he explained.

“How do we mesh everybody’s strengths and make sure they all coexist with what the defensive scheme is? For myself, it’s a little bit of a change because rather than hedging through screens, now they say bust over and you’ll have help. That’s an adjustment for me where as if I didn’t make a stop, it was going to be tough.

“So not gearing myself back a little bit, but understanding I’m funneling people into LeBron, Marc Gasol, A.D. and all the other defenders this team has. As opposed to just playing 1 versus 2, or 1 versus 1 around the screen.”

Matthews also acknowledged the extraordinary nature of the preseason affected his training regime. But the guard expressed hope he would be in an optimal shape by the season opener against the L.A. Clippers on Dec. 22.

“Being in camp with this team, going up against guys like LeBron and Kuz and A.D., and have the first night be against Kawhi and P.G., it’s just going to speed the curve up,” he said.

“I’m feeling better and better every single day in this awkward offseason.”

Kawhi Leonard asked Matthews about Talen Horton-Tucker

Talen Horton-Tucker impressed in both preseason wins against the L.A. Clippers and received praise from James and Matthews, with the latter revealing even Kawhi Leonard was impressed.

“Kawhi was like, ‘Wesley, Talen is 19?’ I’m like, ‘Huh? Nineteen?’ So I asked him and he was like, ‘Yeah, I just turned 20.’ I said, ‘Wow.’ So ‘special’ is definitely the word to describe his game,” Matthews said.

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