The Lakers started out the year as one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA when they elected to start Rondo and play Lonzo in spurts. During that time they had one of the highest scoring offenses in the league mostly in part because when Lonzo came into the game he was allowed to run the show, where as of late they put him off in the corner and let LeBron be LeBron.
The Lakers did not start off the season well, while fun to watch they weren’t playing winning basketball. Now after 20+ games the Lakers and their coaching staff are finally finding their identity as they are climbing the NBA ranks from bottom of the league to top 10 defensively.
- McGee/Chandler: Have been huge in helping Lonzo’s case and McGee wass even building himself one to start the season. However, as the games go on it is evident that the Lakers defense begins and ends with Lonzo Ball.
Lonzo Ball is holding opposing offensive Point Guards to .349% FG%, which makes him on of the best defenders at his position in the entire league. Pair this with the fact he is forcing all offensive players (regardless of position) to shoot .436% from the field. The biggest argument against Lonzo Ball is his box-score stats as he is only averaging 1.1 steals and 0.3 blocks. If the latest Mavericks game is an indicator of Lonzo’s new minute structure (Luke Walton may have figured it out finally) down the road, barring foul trouble i expect him to get at least 32 minutes a game the rest of the season.
His most recent 3 game stretch, after media outlets began highlighting his defense and since we began keeping track of his defensive plays on a play by play basis he has held defenders to an astonishing 5-26 (.192%) from the field. He also had multiple blocks against the Pacers and 5 Steals against the Mavericks in route to his best 21 game stretch in his career on the defensive side of the ball.
Lakers vs Nuggets Lonzo defense thread.— UniqueSports+ (@UniqueSportplus) November 28, 2018
Lonzo Ball Defense Thread Lakers Vs Pacers 11/29/18— UniqueSports+ (@UniqueSportplus) November 30, 2018
Lonzo Ball Defense Thread Vs Mavericks 11-30-18— UniqueSports+ (@UniqueSportplus) December 1, 2018
Now i understand some of the skepticism behind these stats, he has Chandler and McGee helping at the rim, he wasn’t playing All-Star caliber point guards, and players could even just be missing shots. But when Lonzo Ball goes to the bench they still have the same Centers, the same ability to either make or miss shots, and are still playing the same guards (if not they are guarding backups) and yet they are allowing Point Guards to shoot .590% from the field when he leaves the game. I’ve heard the comments against his case, but why can’t Brandon Ingram and other Lakers players assigned to guard these point guards in Lonzo’s stead hold them to the same shooting percentage from the floor?
He may not end up being a DPOY this season but his candidacy and recognition is growing for what he is bringing to the table. Lonzo Ball will make an All-NBA defensive team this season, the only question is what team will it be? And how long until we see the young point guard hoist his first DPOY trophy? With the Lakers (Luke Walton) all but forced to figure their rotations out Lonzo will see me court time which should should his stats and argument as the season goes on. He has only played meaningful games against one All-Star Point Guard in Damian Lillard, and held him to .355% from the field. With plenty of games on the Horizon for Lonzo Ball to face stiffer competition and further add to his DPOY campaign as he will face these players in order from 12/13-1/2.
– De’Angelo Russell