The Lakers have the 11th-worst defense in the NBA so far this season, allowing 108.8 points per 100 possessions. Their issues on that end have led to a lot of things, from subtle finger-pointing to multiple rumors about head coach Frank Vogel’s job security.
Theories abound about the reasons for their struggles on that end, ranging from having too many small, defensive liabilities on the floor to the complete defensive drop-off of their two non-AD seven-footers and more.
But in Dan Woike of the L.A. Times’ recent story following the team’s humiliating triple-overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday, he rebutted Anthony Davis’ latest explanation for the team’s continuing struggles with an even simpler assessment from an anonymous assistant coach (emphasis mine):
“We’re the Lakers, so any team we play, it’s gonna be a grind,” Davis said. “Everybody wants to beat the Lakers, A.D., Bron and Russ, and Melo … it’s evident that any time we play a team and the guys who’s struggling from three or struggling the field or whatever have great games against us.”
Maybe there’s another reason for that?
“They’re old and they can’t stay in front of anyone,” a rival assistant coach recently told The Times.
Is that an oversimplification? Probably. This team certainly has some players who are not that old, or can at least stay in front of people. But it’s also true that this team is currently playing a lot of players who have a hard time staying in front of anyone, some of whom are pretty old.
So honestly, fair point, anonymous assistant coach.
As a result of the defensive foot speed issues that were so astutely pointed out by the anonymous assistant many are praising as “a hero” and “the Deep Throat of Lakers Defensegate,” the team is experimenting with more zone defense and switching than Vogel freely admits he’s ever been comfortable with before.
Will that fix things? It hasn’t yet, but maybe it will at some point as the team continues to get on the same page and potentially even eventually figures out some lineups that make sense. Until then, the rest of the league is going to keep getting their jokes off, a sad but relevant commentary on where this Lakers roster sits currently. So if they still don’t like the old jokes, now would be a good time to start playing like it.