Most of the focus at training camp so far for first-year head coach Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers has been on the defensive end, as Walton said 80 percent of Day 1 was focused solely on defense and on Day 2 they did not implement any offensive schemes until the very end of practice.
Focus on defense can only help as the Lakers ranked near the bottom of the NBA in nearly every defensive category last season, and the team’s young nucleus lacks experience on the defensive end.
Additionally, guard Jordan Clarkson also recently talked about working on defense, as he called himself a bad defender last season, via Mark Medina of the OC Register:
“I was just terrible on that end, taking wrong angles, wasn’t there on tags and wasn’t there on late closeouts,” Clarkson said. “It got to the point where it was bad. We were a bad defensive team as a whole last year. But I take it upon myself really to improve on that.”
In 2015-16, Los Angeles ranked last in basketball in defensive rating, as they allowed 109.3 points per 100 possessions. They also ranked near the bottom of the league in second chance points allowed at 16.5 per game, which was fourth worst, and 17.0 fast break points per game which was second worst.
Clarkson, who will start at guard along with Russell, will have the tough challenge of defending many of the elite guards in the Western Conference this season.
The additions of veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, as well as Walton at the helm, should help Los Angeles improve defensively.