The Lakers’ offense has been the best in the league since the All-Star break, but their defense has suffered since then.
So what’s changed?
The team is in a rebuilding phase after a season in which the Lakers lost eight games in a row, including five in a stretch in which they were outscored by an average of 21.8 points per game.
Laker players aren’t used to being on the same page as their coaches.
“When I’m not playing,” says forward Lou Williams, “we’re talking about different concepts of defense and how we’re going to handle different things.”
Williams, who has a history of having an issue with coach Mike Brown, said he had “no idea” what the Lakers were planning on doing in the offseason.
“I’ve been a part of this team since I was 14 years old,” he said.
“The thing is, we’re not going to change what we’re doing.
We’re not changing how we play defense.
It’s the same defense.”
But this offseason, there was a change in approach.
The Lakers have begun experimenting with different systems.
“We’ve been trying different stuff for a while now,” Williams said.
For example, the Lakers used to just run the ball to the basket, but now they have some type of pick-and-roll with their bigs, including big man D’Angelo Russell, in addition to the small forwards.
The system also allows the Lakers to spread out the floor and use shooters as pick-ups in the pick-n-roll.
“That’s a huge part of the offense, getting them open shots,” Williams says.
“It’s also an effective way to score on defense.”
The Lakers are currently playing the Knicks on Monday, a team that had a record of 27-17.
Williams has been one of the best players in the NBA during the Lakers’ run of success, but he doesn’t expect to be playing for the team long-term.
“You’ve got to be happy with the guys you’re with and just try to get better each year,” he says.
Williams is a free agent next summer, but the Lakers are reportedly interested in bringing him back.
And he says that the new system could be a good fit for the Lakers.
“They’ve got some good shooters and we can bring some different players in and bring some new pieces in, too,” Williams told me.
“So, it’s definitely going to be a fun thing to do, but we’re just going to have to wait and see.”
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