Diagnosing Los Angeles Lakers’ Critical Defensive Flaws

The Los Angeles Lakers are in big trouble. 

I'm not talking about Kobe Bryant as he fights to regain his pre-injury form now that he's playing instead of watching from a seated position on the sidelines. I'm not discussing the injury woes—is that even a strong enough word?—currently plaguing the point guard rotation. I'm not even worried about the strength of the Western Conference. 

Well, I'm kind of worried about that. 

It's defense that gets focused on here, the very thing that wins championships and will ultimately prevent the playoffs from having a purple-and-gold tint if changes aren't made in Tinseltown. 

Up through this mid-December point in the 2013-14 campaign, the Lakers are allowing 103.5 points per game, a mark that leaves them beating only the Philadelphia 76ers. Of course, that's not much of an accomplishment since Brett Brown's Sixers are slowing starting to resemble the D-League team they were expected to be prior to the hot start. 

Yeah, yeah. Pace matters, since the Lakers are using the No. 3 pace in the NBA. 

But even after adjusting for the speed of the system, Basketball-Reference still shows the Lake Show has a defensive rating of 106.5. That's a number lower than only those posted by seven teams this year, and most of them have been bottom-feeders. 

Defense is a problem. 


Lack of External Changes

The Lakers aren't going to be able to go out and suddenly acquire a player who turns everything around. 

Sure, they could use a stellar interior defender, but good luck finding one of those in either the D-League or splashing around in the almost-completely-dry free-agent pool. It ain't going to happen. 

The only way to acquire such a player is by trading current members of the team, and it's unlikely L.A. will part ways with ei...

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