After 48 games into the regular season we have more than enough game film to make some serious assessments about each team so far. As far as the Lakers go, this season has been crazier than an episode of the Kardashian’s, funny thing about it is both feature the same amount of professional basketball players. The injury bug has riddled the starting unit and bench from D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram. No team can use that as an excuse but the few games Los Angeles has been at full strength they’ve looked impressive. Look no further than the 117-97 win over Golden State, the 111-109 nail-biter versus Oklahoma City or the Christmas Day win against the Clippers. Their glaring weakness is of course their rim protection and overall down low presence. They allow 110.2 PPG “good” for 26th in the league. With a stat like that there is only one direction to go, Wiz Khalifa on 4/20, up.
This whole second half of the season needs to be dedicated to getting better each and every day on the defensive end, that’s it, nothing else. Playoff hopes look slim to none after the teams recent slump so valuable game time minutes are running low. You can’t emulate that kind of competition during the summer no matter how hard you try, so from here to April 12th versus the Warriors, the Lakers need to come up with some sort of defensive scheme they can build on. The talent is there, that’s the least of my worries at this point. The only thing that really scares me is the Lakers trading away one or maybe two of their young core players. As long as Mitch Kupchak remains calm and keeps making cold blooded decisions like he has been for the last few years, this team will figure it out and give management a chance to evaluate what piece to add going forward.
Now, I’m not saying this team is soft, nah, these guys are fierce on both ends of the floor. You tell Julius Randle you think he’s soft, I’ll stand 25 feet away while I record and yell WORLDSTAR in the back ground. The NBA game is just so fast and detail oriented that it takes a while for a team to play as a unit. This team isn’t backing down from any player, any team, any body. These guys are young which can be a good and bad thing in sports, or in life in general. Remember when you were younger? Remember how you had no fear? You thought you could take on the world and come out un-scratched. That kind of confidence can either lead you to great things or be the worse thing that ever happened to you. You see a swagger on the court with this squad, they don’t run from any challenge. Which again can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you react to it.
Defense. Defense. Defense.
These words need to be the Coach Luke Walton’s battle cry for the rest of the season. The offense is there, they don’t even have to try. The way this squad harmonizes and passes the ball is impressive for a team who is in the “re-building” stage. The rest of the season is in the Lakers hands, 6 games back of the 8th spot is a feasible goal for such a young-talented team.
Can they do it? Maybe, a lot has to go fall into place. I think they’ll be OK if someone gets Coach Walton on the phone so I can tell him this and I quote, “Offense gets you on Sports Center’s Top 10 plays of the night and then the next night they forget about you. Defense wins you championships and that is how you cement your legacy.” The Urban Philosopher Pedro has struck again.