The Los Angeles Lakers are already expected by many to be much-improved in the 2019-20 season, thanks in no small part to the blockbuster trade in July that allowed them to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. And while the team has traditionally been known to be offensive-oriented — dating back to their days as the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s — it appears that defense might be a prime focus for the Purple and Gold going forward, especially with Frank Vogel recently replacing Luke Walton as Los Angeles’ head coach.
As a three-time former Defensive Player of the Year, recent Lakers signee Dwight Howard is no stranger to shutting down opposing teams’ top players. And, as quoted by Silver Screen and Roll, the 33-year-old center appears confident that his new team will do a much better job on defense in the 2019-20 campaign, so much so that he remarked after Sunday’s training camp session that he thinks the Lakers “could be the best defensive team in the league.”
When asked about his thoughts on the matter, Vogel told reporters that he agrees with Howard’s prediction. He did, however, stress that the Lakers’ success on defense will all depend on how well they can work together as a team throughout the entire 2019-20 NBA season.
“There’s no doubt we can be [the best defensive team]. But it’s going to be on me to keep them drilled and prepared with the game plans and it’s going to be on them to commit and continue the care factor through 82 games.”
Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard walling onto the court. pic.twitter.com/nGlJlXoBLu— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) September 27, 2019
In a 2018-19 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs for a sixth straight year with a 37-45 record, the Lakers finished 16th out of 30 NBA teams by averaging 111.8 points per game but ranked just 21st overall in terms of points allowed per game, averaging 113.5 points in that category, per Basketball-Reference. However, as Silver Screen and Roll opined, Davis, Howard, and Vogel aren’t the only new additions who could help the Lakers ramp up their defensive play in the coming season.
Aside from the aforementioned big men and their new head coach, the Lakers added two defensively-skilled shooting guards in Danny Green and Avery Bradley, as well as journeyman forward Jared Dudley, who, according to Silver Screen and Roll, has “helped defenses in the past.” Likewise, the team also re-signed some skilled defensive players from last season’s lineup, including center JaVale McGee and backup point guard Alex Caruso.
On the other hand, Silver Screen and Roll also opined that the Lakers have “quite a few” weak links on defense, with superstar forward LeBron James — a six-time All-Defensive Team selection — currently a “wildcard” of sorts due to his advanced age.