What We’ve Learned About 2015-16 Los Angeles Lakers So Far

There are certain inalienable truths about the Los Angeles Lakers so far this season—such as a 3-21 record that puts them so far out of contention in the playoff race that it’s not even worth debating.

This is a team whose win averages have declined steadily over the past five years, from .621 in 2011-12, to .549, .329, .256 and .125 at present. L.A. now appears primed for an absolute historical nadir.

But as unappealing as it may be to watch a legendary franchise in free fall, it can also be instructive—especially if lessons can be applied in such a way as to ultimately benefit the organization. That said, the paradigm for future success won’t be easy or pain-free.


A Defensive Identity is Lacking

The Lakers allowed 105.3 points per game last season and were ranked as the second-worst defense in the NBA. They’re currently allowing an average of 107.3 points, and the situation doesn't appear to be improving any time soon.

The acquisition of Roy Hibbert and his mountain-in-the-middle act hasn’t helped much—not when sloppy and disorganized fundamentals from teammates on the perimeter lead to opponents swarming a lone sentry under the basket.

Having more ball-stoppers would certainly be a benefit. But the larger problem concerns the system as much as it does individual players. Head coach Byron Scott has preached help defense relentlessly, and it seems to fall on deaf ears. And this is the essential problem: a lack of communication, of adjustments and of versatility.

The polar opposite would be the league’s version of Scrooge McDuck—the venerable San Antonio Spurs who allow just 88.2 points per game. It certainly helps to have a lockdown dervish like Kawhi Leonard, but everyone on the floor buys into Gregg Popovich’s philosophy of total commitment.

The Spurs held the At...

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