Why Anthony Davis must stop Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen:
If the defense is just focused on Zach Lavine, Coby White will get to the basket at will. When the Lakers overhelp on the Lavine/White duo, Chicago’s power forward Lauri Markkanen will get plenty of open three-pointers trailing Lavine and White in transition.
Markkanen is especially capable since he has been an elite shooter dating back to his time at the University of Arizona. He is now averaging nearly 20 points per game on a career-high 40% from three-point range, with a newfound ability to attack closeouts off the dribble.
Markkanen poses a unique threat since the Lakers are giving up more three-pointers in transition than usual because they are overhelping on the ball. Anthony Davis and the other Lakers big men must take an extra step or two to deny the pass to Markkanen.
Against their loss against the Spurs, AD publicly called out the team and himself for their poor defensive effort. AD gave up several open trail three-pointers to LaMarcus Aldridge and other Spurs players in transition. If AD wants to make yet another statement that the Lakers defensive woes are firmly in the past, he needs to start by guarding Markkanen.
He will get plenty of opportunities to assert himself defensively. Chicago is the second fastest-paced team in the NBA so far this season. The Lakers are notorious for their struggles with transition defense, ranking dead last all throughout last season, but they have improved to closer to middle of the pack this season.
Like the matadors who run with the bulls every year in the Spanish town of Pamplona, the Lakers defense need to slow down the NBA’s running of the bulls. Thankfully, Lakers center Marc Gasol hails from Spain. Can Gasol guide the Lakers in their quest to run with the Bulls successfully?