New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott opened up about how he'll coach the Lakers' defense, and detailed his philosophies on stopping opponents in an interview with ESPN LA during Lakers media day Monday. "Our concept is keep that ball out of the middle. Keep it out of the paint as much as possible," Scott said.
Scott's defense-first mentality is one of the reasons many felt he would be a good fit for the Lakers, who were 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Los Angeles held opponents to 107.9 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. Scott helped coach the New Jersey Nets to the best defense in the NBA and also had the New Orleans Hornets in the top-five. As for his struggles in turning the Cleveland Cavaliers into a top defensive team, Scott said the lack of "talent" and not having players who "had a lot of pride" in defense attributed to their inability to put the clamps on opponents.
How will the Lakers turn their defense around? "Our rotations have to be tight, everybody has to be on a string. Communication is extremely important on the defensive end of basketball," Scott said. "Our big guys gotta' be very vocal, as well as our guards. It's just one of those things if it's hand in hand where everybody is playing on a string, we have a chance to be really good on that end of the floor."
Relying on the Lakers big men to lead the team's identity might be a safe bet. The Lakers lack lockdown perimeter defenders, while Jordan Hill and Ed Davis are arguably the team's two best defenders. Focusing on using a frontcourt to shut off at-the-rim opportunities is a common theme in elite defensive teams, but it's not easily executable.
The Lakers allowed opponents to shoot 59 percent within five feet of the basket last season, per NBA.com. There's plenty of work to be had if Scott wants to close off the restricted area, but that number must go down if the Lakers want to be successful this season.
"Its just like football, it's schemes. What you try to do is implement a gameplan on the defensive end about certain things that you want to do," Scott answered. "These are our principles. You only want to do them two or three different ways."
"If you're trying to play pick-and-rolls eight different ways pretty much you're going to end up playing them eight different ways pretty badly," Scott elaborated. "If you can consistently do it two or three different ways, then you have a chance for the team to be successful."
A little consistency on defense could go a long way for Los Angeles. Defensive efficiency has been trending the wrong way for the last five seasons and the bleeding has to stop at some point:
Will that point be Byron Scott's first season as Lakers head coach? The talk all sounds nice, but the Lakers have performed so poorly on defense it'll take plenty of walking to leave the past two seasons behind. Scott has pulled the strings for top defenses in the past, and if he could turn the Lakers' defensive woes around in a hurry, it'd be a flashy purple and gold feather to pluck into his cap.