The Los Angeles Lakers preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets may have seen the purple and gold in a losing effort, but wins and losses aren’t really the point during this time of year. Instead, it’s about building chemistry and working out issues before the season starts and the games count.
These games are especially important for a team like the Lakers that is attempting to incorporate a plethora of new players in addition to a new coaching staff. With that much change, it’s expected that there will be some bumps in the road and miscues. The uncertainty around whether or not the game would even take place thanks to the drama unfolding between the NBA and China didn’t help, either.
That said, despite the distractions and growing pains, the Lakers managed to hang close in a tough game that provided us with another look at how the team is coming together.
In particular, we saw that the Lakers, who Vogel hopes to turn into a stingy defensive team, struggled to defend on the perimeter. The Net launched 41 threes in the game, connecting on 20 of them, which allowed them to get the win despite losing star Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert a minute into the game due to injuries.
The issue was partly due to a starting lineup that featured Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the backcourt, both of whom struggled defensively last season. However, the Lakers roster is also extremely thin on the wings, especially with Kyle Kuzma and Jared Dudley currently sidelined. They struggled to contain versatile forwards like Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs, and Taurean Prince.
Vogel will need to find a way to scheme around defending bigger wings, and that may require feeding more minutes to Danny Green.
Meanwhile, one of the Lakers’ bright spots was Rondo’s three-point shooting. Rondo has been a non-shooter for much of his career but converted 36% from three last season and drew rave reviews for his marksmanship during training camp. Against the Nets he hit two threes and keeping that up will be critical to his efficiency on the offensive end. While no one expects Rondo to turn into Steph Curry, if he can force defenses to finally respect his shooting it would go a long way towards spacing the floor for L.A.
Finally, Davis has largely struggled outside the pain, converting just 2 of 10 shots. Still, his dominance despite not having the touch from outside is a good sign going forward. Eventually, those shots will drop.
Preseason can skew performances as coaches tinker with lineups and plays, and the sample size is tiny, but with each game we learn more and more about what the Lakers will look like this season.