The Los Angeles Lakers were a horrific defensive team during the 2016-17 season. They ranked last in the league in defensive efficiency for the second consecutive season, and the 113 points per 100 possessions they surrendered was the worst mark in the history of the Lakers franchise since Basketball-Reference began tracking the stat.
A defense simply can’t be that bad if there are any standout defenders on the roster, which is probably why precisely zero Lakers received even a single vote for any of the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
There has been a lot of talk about how No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball can help the Lakers’ offense, but defense is where the Lakers will have to make the biggest strides going forward if they want to climb out of the NBA’s basement.
As of right now, the Lakers’ offseason additions are less than inspiring in that sense. Brook Lopez is a decent rim protector, but will likely get obliterated in the pick-and-roll and in transition defense. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ new rookies might be good defenders eventually but can’t reasonably be expected to be sound from day one.
It remains to be see who the Lakers nab in free agency or in trades (*cough* Paul George *cough*), but more likely any Lakers defensive improvement is going to have to come from internal improvement from young players like Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Ivica Zubac and Brandon Ingram. Luol Deng will have to re-find his legs, if there is anything left to be mined there. The coaching staff will have to make adjustments.
If the Lakers do all of those things in conjunction, maybe they can avoid being one of the five-worst defenses in the league for the first time since the 2012-13 season. If not, it’s unlikely they’ll get any more love from voters next year, or be much more effective as a unit.
You can check out the All-Defensive team vote breakdown below, and if Isaiah Thomas got a vote, I guess anything is possible for the Lakers next season: