Good and the Bad Early From Lonzo's Lakers: Defense Better, But They're Last in 3-Point Shooting

Good and the Bad Early From Lonzo's Lakers: Defense Better, But They're Last in 3-Point Shooting

NBA

Good and the Bad Early From Lonzo's Lakers: Defense Better, But They're Last in 3-Point Shooting

Through six games, the Lakers are 2-4, but a couple things have become readily apparent:

The defense is much improved, especially in the half court. Here are the defensive efficiency numbers:

2014: 29th
2015: 30th
2016: 30th
2017: 11th (six games)

This is in large part due to KCP on the perimeter, bouncy Kyle Kuzma and Larry Nance on the wings, and Julius Randle and Brook Lopez inside.

That’s the good news. The bad is overwhelming, but again, it’s early, there are three new starters, and it’s a very young team:

3-point FGM per game: 6.7 (29th)
3-point FG%: 27.8% (30th)
Turnovers: 18.8 (29th)

It looks like there’s a disconnect between what Luke Walton wants to run – he said last year the goal was to be Warriors-like – and what the Lakers are actually running. From my sofa, it looks like they’re not running much of anything, especially in the 4th quarter.

Maybe this can all be chalked up to figuring out a rotation. The Lakers have a lot of talented players, but as of now, no elite players. Should Corey Brewer be playing over Josh Hart? How does a reserve (Jordan Clarkson), playing just 19 minutes a game lead them in scoring and 3-point shooting?

Ten players are averaging 13+ minutes per game.

Which actually leads me to this: I wonder just how many players are auditioning for a spot on this team next year alongside LeBron and Paul George.

Initially I thought that was mostly just going to be a Julius Randle/Jordan Clarkson thing, but KCP and Lopez are also on 1-year deals, and it looks more and more to me like Ingram could be auditioning for his future in LA. To create cap room for LeBron and Paul George, they’ll have to unload Luol Deng (started opening night, hasn’t played since), and since nobody will want him and his bad contract, the Lakers will have to attach a future pick and/or players.

Again: Its only been six games. Four of the six opponents were playoff teams last year. Three of those four teams won a round (and the other, the Clippers, lost to the Jazz).

I’m not ready to bail on my Lakers-to-the-playoffs prediction. But in the West, you can’t dig too deep a hole. This Pistons on Halloween will be an important game (yes, this early) for this reason: After that, it’s at Portland/vs Brooklyn on a back-to-back, followed by a game against hot Memphis, and then a back-to-back in Boston/Washington. After that, a date with Giannis in Milwaukee.

At 2-4, you can’t go 1-6 in this stretch, not in the West. Because soon after that, we get to the stage of:

And then, the question becomes, Luke Walton really going to be the guy to coach LeBron? Who will LeBron want as coach?

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