Los Angeles Lakers
Halfway through the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have looked nothing like the powerhouse Finals favorites that many fans and media members thought they’d be coming into the season.
The purple and gold currently have a record of 21-21, good for eighth in the West. That may sound decent for the oldest team in the NBA that’s just focused on getting to the playoffs, but they have looked disastrous at many points this season.
Their struggles can be attributed to their porous defensive effort. According to ESPN stats and info, the Lakers give up the fourth-most points per game (112.8), allow the third-most paint points per game, and are the seventh-worst in opponents’ second-chance points. This Lakers defense is in the bottom half of the league in almost every defensive metric.
It’s not much of a surprise that the Lakers are struggling on defense based on what they did over the off-season: prioritizing offense over defense by getting rid of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Kyle Kuzma – all above-average defenders – in exchange for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard who are players that nobody would call defensive stoppers.
Frankly, the Lakers just look old and disinterested in the regular season. The thing is though, we’ve seen this with LeBron leading teams before and have come to expect it.
Back in the summer of 2017, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought in a bunch of vets like Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Isaiah Thomas to appease LeBron James. Heading into that season, a lot of hype surrounded the Cavs and many people believed, with their additions, that they could challenge the Kevin Durant and Steph Curry lead Golden State Warriors. However, as we know now, that wasn’t the case.
Cleveland ended up trading away or waiving Crowder, Rose, Wade, and Thomas before the trade deadline and had a completely different roster in the second half of the season. Could we see something similar happen to these Lakers? It sure feels like that based on their play so far this season.