After Anthony Davis’ Sharp Criticism, What Can the LA Lakers do to Tighten Their Defense?

Published 01/08/2021, 7:00 AM EST
Jan 7, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives to the basket past Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the third quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


The LA Lakers lost to San Antonio Spurs 109-118, and in the process relinquished their top position on the table. While the defense has been their staple under coach Vogel, it proved to be their undoing in this game. This irked superstar Anthony Davis very much.

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“We didn’t play a lick of defense. Our defense was shit tonight. We didn’t play one lick of defense, and guys did whatever they want. (The Spurs) came into this game very comfortable,” said Davis.

Dec 22, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) reacts in the third quarter against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So, what should the Lakers do to plug the holes in their shield and prevent any possible downturn in form?

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Play Anthony Davis at the center position when facing a stretch-five

In this era of ‘Small Ball’ lineups, the value of a typical 7-footer protecting the rim is diminishing. In the previous era, a center needed to play beneath both the rims. Today, the requirement is much more than that with big men also adept passers and even 3-point shooters.

The San Antonio Spurs presented a stretch-5 in LaMarcus Aldridge to the Lakers for the first time this season. Hence, defending against them was a unique challenge, but similar to the one they faced against the Rockets last season in the Playoffs. JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard were redundant. So Anthony Davis played at 5, in a move that paid off.

So, today was the kind of matchup where coach Frank Vogel needed to give AD maximum minutes at 5 in place of Harell and Gasol. Also, as Davis puts it, new recruits also need to adapt to the new system –

“Tonight was a new challenge, like coach said, with a stretch five we haven’t seen, and all the guys that were here before kind of know (how we defend that), but it was new to Dennis, to Wes.”

Give Alex Caruso more minutes for the LA Lakers

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Compared to last season, the ‘Carushow‘ is getting lesser time on the court (15.2 to 18.4 minutes). He is a key piece in their puzzle as he provides valuable energy on the floor, especially on the defensive end, which was clearly lacking against the Spurs.

Jan 7, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan (10) hangar in the air under the basket as Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) defends during the fourth quarter at Staples Center. At lest is Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) and Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Though the Lakers are concentrating on offense slightly more with Dennis Schroder, they still need to respect their USP- something that propelled them to glory in the 2019-20 NBA season.

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It is high time for the LA Lakers to step up their game and work on their ‘sh*t defense’, as Anthony Davis puts it. Or they could see the Larry O’Brien trophy land in another city this time. Or worse, in their own to cross-town rivals, LA Clippers.

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Bharat Aggarwal

753 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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