The Los Angeles Lakers have some defensive questions that need answering after just four games.
After winning two straight games, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 115-107. With the loss, the purple and gold’s record goes to 2-2. LeBron James led the way for Los Angeles with 29 points and 6 assists. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis struggled and put up only 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The main issue of the night was their defense. In fact, after 4 games played, the once-vaunted Laker defense has been through a bit of a rut to start the season.
The Lakers rank 11th in the league in defensive efficiency. Not bad but it could be better. Then again, it has only been 4 games.
Here’s a concerning stat though. The Los Angeles Lakers rank 19th in opponents’ points in the paint, allowing just over 50ppg. That is unacceptable for a team that features rim protectors like Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.
Of course, there might be a reason behind this regression: Montrezl Harrell. Now to be clear, he is not the only reason but his play in last night’s game was a bit concerning.
I know that 4 games are an extremely small sample size, but there is a worrisome trend developing around Harrell. When Montrezl Harrell is on the floor, the Lakers offensive rating plummets from 124.9 to 113.3.
The other side of the ball is no different as Harrell’s impact on that end is also a negative one (111.6 defensive rating on the floor vs 102.8 with him off the floor). Don’t take my word for it though, here’s The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor with some examples of Harrell’s shortcomings on defense during the 4th quarter of last night’s game:
Not a good look for Trez in that quarter.
Here’s another interesting nugget for the Lakers so far. They have allowed 110 points or more to 3 of their first 4 opponents. The lone opponent was the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were without Karl-Anthony Towns for that game.
Although to be fair, in their first four games, the Los Angeles Lakers have faced Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum (I’m going to throw Gary Trent Jr. in there too).
Still, there are some things that need to be worked out, particularly with Harrell, in order for the Lakers to regain that elite defensive status. In Frank Vogel we trust.