“Well coming into last night’s game we were second in the league in defense,” Vogel said the day after the loss to the Spurs that prompted Davis’ vent session with the media. “We had a terrible defensive night last night, so I understand his frustrations. I felt the same exact way. But at the same time, it’s early in the season, it’s a process, we’re learning a new group.”
Vogel (and Davis) are surely a little happier after the team’s win against the Rockets, a victory that vaulted them back into a tie for second in the NBA in defensive efficiency. As uncharacteristic as their defense has looked at times, they’re still holding teams to 105.5 points per 100 possessions (less than a point worse per 100 possessions than they were last year).
And while there might be some small-sample-size wonkiness at play here, they’ve actually — by the numbers — been better at the rim so far than they were last season, despite all the panicking from some about their lack of size.
This was a really good check-in on the Lakers' season thus far by Jovan.— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) January 12, 2021
Also to add onto the rim protection point, only 32% of their opposition's shots this season are coming at the rim. Which is actually down from their 36.2% mark last year. https://t.co/uAr6aBk84Z
In short, while the Lakers clearly have some things they can clean up, it’s not time to panic. Vogel says the team is taking the long view when it comes to their defense.
“We’re evolving as a team. This is just part of the process, we had bumps in the road very similar to last night early in the season last year, and it’s something that we have to continue to work at each day. It’s not a big concern of mine.”
And if it’s not a big concern of Vogel’s, it probably shouldn’t be a big concern of ours either. He (and this team) have earned the benefit of the doubt for at least a little while longer. Especially as they sit at 8-3 — the best record in the NBA — despite their substandard play and clearly ongoing adjustment process.
If this is them at half speed, something tells me they’re going to be just fine again when it matters.