Los Angeles Lakers: Are they better than the Clippers past the halfway point?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Lakers first flaw

The Lakers struggle to contain large wings from scoring. Unfortunately, the Clippers feature two of the best wings in the NBA; Kawhi Leanord and Paul George.

The Lakers recent victory against the Boston Celtics is one of many examples this season of the Purple and Gold letting a talented wing run rough shed over their defense. Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 41 points against the Lakers nearly securing a victory for Beantown even though they were without All-Star, Kemba Walker.

Kyle Kuzma is one of the problems. He’s a sub-par defender. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is another problem. He’s ranked 117th out of 128 shooting guards in ESPN’s defensive plus-minus, and he sits at the bottom of the Lakers rotation in defensive rating. KCP is similar to Kyle Kuzma; he lacks the size to bother stronger wings, and he doesn’t have good side-to-side movement.

“Kuz” and KCP soak up a lot of dubious minutes at the wing for the Lakers. That can’t happen against the Clippers in the postseason. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Marcus Morris Sr. will build double-digit leads against the Purple and Gold if Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma attempt to guard them.

Perimeter defense doesn’t have to be a problem for the Lakers, though. Frank Vogel can turn to Danny Green, Alex Caruso, LeBron James, and the newly acquired Markieff Morris to help contain the Clippers out on the perimeter.

Danny Green is the 38th ranked shooting guard in ESPN’s defensive plus-minus, a far cry from his defensive mastery last season for the Toronto Raptors. Green’s looked a half-step slow this season, but there’s reason to believe he’s just pacing himself for the playoffs. He’s only one season removed from being the top 3-and-D player in the league. It’s not like his defense fell off a cliff in a matter of months. He’ll be ready for the playoffs.

If you’re a Lakers fan, you know that Alex Caruso is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He’s at the top of the association in many defensive metrics. “The Headband” has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. When he’s on the floor, good things happen for the Lakers.

LeBron James has been one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He’s fully engaged this season, and he’s using his unbelievable strength and quick feet to stifle opponents.

Markieff Morris isn’t known as a top perimeter defender. But he’s a veteran who can hold his own on the perimeter. He’s a significant upgrade over KCP or Kyle Kuzma.