Los Angeles Lakers drop in ESPN NBA Power Rankings

Where do the Los Angeles Lakers land this week in ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings?

The Los Angeles Lakers are going to have their struggles this season. With so many young players and new faces being integrated into the lineup, peaks and valleys are bound to happen. We saw that first hand this past week.

The Lakers started things off on a high note last week. They defeated the visiting Washington Wizards in overtime, overcoming a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. Unlike the game prior against the New Orleans Pelicans, where they ran out of gas at the end, the Lakers were able to complete the comeback against the Wizards.

They showed grittiness and toughness, never giving up despite the hole they were in. The Lakers have given effort, but it does not always result in victories, as we saw in the subsequent games in the week.

Following the victory over the Wizards, the Lakers dropped their next two games. The loss Friday against the Toronto Raptors saw the starters get benched as head coach Luke Walton didn’t like what he saw from them in the fourth quarter. The Lakers would lose that game 101-92.

The next night things didn’t go much better. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers had to travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz. That is not a team you want to face when struggling offensively, and the Lakers experienced that first hand.

The Jazz would defeat the Lakers 96-81. Los Angeles hung around for most of the game, but suffocating defense from the Jazz eventually wore on them. Only Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson were in double-figures for the Lakers.

The loss did provide a teaching moment for Lonzo Ball. Ball showed great leadership after the game, taking the blame for the loss as he played a part in the Lakers run being stopped in its tracks. His inability to box out Donovan Mitchell, and turnover immediately after which resulted in a Mitchell three-pointer, pushed the Jazz lead back to 11 after the Lakers had cut into it.

There are a lot of learning experiences for the young Lakers. Ball was called out on social media by Marcin Gortat prior to the Wizards game, and his teammates picked him up. While the Lakers went 1-2 this week, there were some positives to take away from them.

However, there were also some negatives. For one, the Lakers need to figure things out offensively. They failed to reach 100 points in regulation in every game last week, something that will have to change if they want to win games.

As a result, the Lakers took a tumble down ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings. After being ranked 22nd last week and to start the season, the Lakers have fallen to No. 25 this week.

Here is what they had to say over at ESPN about the ranking.

Aside from acclimating rookie Lonzo Ball to an NBA starting point guard gig, the first item on the Lakers’ agenda this season was improving their woeful 30th-ranked defense. The early results have been auspicious, as the Lakers enter the week ranked 11th in defensive efficiency. The offense remains a work in progress as Luke Walton tinkers with lineup combos and the young’uns adapt to the read-oriented scheme.

The defense was one of the areas the Lakers were dreadful in last season and an area of emphasis for improvement this season. Thus far, the work has paid off as the Lakers are knocking on the door of the top-10 for defensive efficiency.

The Lakers have received spirited defensive efforts in virtually every game this season. While some of the point totals allowed are eye-popping, the opponent’s shooting percentages are improved thus far.

It is nice to see the Lakers making improvements in some areas on the court. If they can figure it out offensively without sacrificing their performance on defense, they will start winning more games. The more games they win now, the brighter the future will be.