Lakers’ ‘SWAT TEAM’ Defense Is #1!
The Lakers now have the NBA’s best defense, anchored by Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley
Six games into the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the NBA’s top defensive team, with an elite 96.3 defensive rating anchored by two of the league’s top shot blockers in Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard.
With a lineup of five former All-Defensive NBA players to close out games, the Lakers have rebounded from a disappointing opening game loss to the Clippers to become a defensive juggernaut that’s won five straight games. Kudos to Sean Grice, AKA Magicman, for christening the Lakers’ defense with the ‘SWAT TEAM’ moniker because of Special Weapons And Tactics they bring to the game to make their defense the best in the league.
While it’s admittedly a small sample size, the Lakers’ ‘SWAT TEAM’ closing lineup of Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley has produced a suffocating 63.3 defensive rating. Individually, Howard leads the ‘SWAT TEAM with a 90.4 defensive rating, followed by Davis’s 94.3, James’ 96.2, Green’s 96.3, and Bradley’s 98.9. No five-man lineup in the league has produced a better defensive rating.
Even more astonishing is that 12 of the 14 active players on the Lakers’ roster currently have defensive ratings under 100, which tells me every player on this team has fully brought into the commitment to play defense. That means players like Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels, who were signed because of their shooting ability and have never paid attention to defense, have accepted the challenge to contribute on both ends of the court.
We’ve all heard the cliché that defense wins championships but the focus Frank Vogel and his staff have placed on defense and the commitment and leadership of LeBron and AD to playing great D have been remarkable. While the their offense is still not clicking on all cylinders, the Lakers have still been able to take over and dominate because of their elite defense. There’s no question defense has become the core identity of this team.
Before the season, there were a lot of critics and doubters who didn’t think the Lakers would become a good defensive team and ridiculed their signing of former elite defenders like Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard. They laughed when Anthony Davis proclaimed he was going to win the DPOY award, LeBron James was going to join him on the NBA All-Defensive first team this season, and the Lakers were going to lead the league in defense.
Right now, those critics are changing their tune as former All-Defensive stalwarts Bradley, Howard, and James have suddenly turned the clock back and are once again displaying championship defensive ability and effort. What’s even more remarkable has been the dramatic improvement of role players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Kyle Kuzma who’ve accepted the challenge and are all posting defensive ratings under 100.
But the biggest two surprises have been LeBron James and Dwight Howard accepting the challenge from Anthony Davis and joining him to form a trio of elite defenders that have anchored the Lakers’ league leading defense. While Anthony Davis is second in the league with 3.0 blocked shots in 35.2 minutes per game, the big surprise is Dwight Howard, who is ranked sixth in the league with 2.5 blocks per game in just 21.4 minutes per game.
We’re just six games into the 2019–20 season but the Lakers are already displaying an intensity and chemistry on defense around which they can build a championship identity that can carry them though the long year. Frank Vogel wanted this team to become known for playing smash mouth physical defense and their ‘SWAT TEAM’ mentality is exactly what coach Vogel and his staff and Lakers fans everywhere had been hoping to see.
We still need to fix things on offense and continue to avoid serious injuries but the Lakers haven’t been off to this good a start since they won their last championship back in 2009–10. It’s once again fun to be a Lakers’ fan.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to share your ideas and comments with other intelligent Lakers fans, please join us on Lakerholics.Net.