The Los Angeles Lakers built a championship team based on a defensive identity in 2020. Yet since then, questionable roster decisions have evaporated any identity and transformed them into a team relying purely on individual talent.
The Lakers roster, and constant injuries, left head coach Frank Vogel with a demanding challenge to find different lineups that would work effectively within his system. Ultimately, he couldn’t overcome it, leading to his dismissal as the storied franchise missed the play-in tournament with a 33-49 record.
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The Lakers need to recapture their defensive identity next season, with that task appearing difficult as they enter the offseason with little cap space and no major assets.
Los Angeles ranked third in defense during the 2019-20 regular season, then jumped to first the following season. Still, just another season on, their completely revamped roster saw them drop to 21st.
There were two key factors – firstly, the roster moves significantly reduced their size and defensive versatility. They had ten players this season that stood at 6’4 or below, an increase from six last season which included notably good defenders in Alex Caruso and Wesley Matthews.
Secondly, Anthony Davis’ decline in jump shooting, plus the inclusion of Westbrook, hampered the Lakers’ ability to play two big men to protect the paint – Davis, Westbrook, and another non-shooter formed a completely non-viable offensive unit.
New coach Darvin Ham alluded to the Lakers need to reignite their defensive identity, stating, “it starts out on the defensive end and builds out there.” With this in mind, here are five offseason moves the Lakers could make to not only sure up the defensive end for their new coach, but also provide more perimeter shooting.