The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2018-19 season with high expectations before they crashed back down to Earth. The 2019-20 season is a different story. After a crazy offseason, expectations are even higher. The major difference (other than acquiring one of the greatest players on the planet) is that they’re now living up to those expectations. One quote about the team from head coach Frank Vogel, however, should scare the rest of the NBA.
(All stats and results are valid through NBA games played on November 17, 2019).
The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2019 offseason
The Lakers’ biggest acquisition of 2019 was forward Anthony Davis. The Lakers had famously bungled trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2018 regular season, meaning they ran the risk of losing out on Davis to a team with more assets like the Boston Celtics. But Davis and his camp made it abundantly clear that he would not sign a long-term deal in Boston, scaring away the Celtics.
To get Davis, the Lakers gave up quite a lot, including:
- Lonzo Ball
- Isaac Bonga
- Josh Hart
- Brandon Ingram
- Jemerrio Jones
- Moe Wagner
- The draft rights to De’Andre Hunter
- Four first-round draft picks (one being a pick swap in 2023)
The Lakers weren’t done, however. They also signed DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Green. Cousins tore his ACL later in the offseason, so to replace him, the team signed Dwight Howard to fill in at center. It was Howard’s second stint with the team.
After finally getting the guy they wanted in AD, how have the Lakers fared so far?
The Lakers’ season so far
For the Lakers in 2019, it’s so far, so good. Through 13 games, they’re the top team in the Western Conference at 11-2. It’s still too early to crown the Lakers yet, but it’s an encouraging start. No one is shocked the Lakers are this good — after all, they have James and Davis, two of the NBA’s best players — but what might be surprising is how they’ve done it.
The Lakers offense has been the definition of average so far. They’re currently scoring 110.8 points per game, good for 15th in the league. They’re getting nearly 50 points a game out of their stars — 25 for LeBron and 24.5 for Davis. Kyle Kuzma is the only other Laker to average double figures with 14.6 points per game.
Where they’re really excelling is on defense. The Lakers are surrendering only 100.6 points per game — second-best in the league. The team’s defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) is 99.5, best in the NBA. It represents a pretty stark contrast to last year’s undisciplined, lackadaisical Lakers team.
The Frank Vogel comment that should scare the rest of the NBA
The Lakers’ offense has been fine so far — middle of the road. Despite that, they’re still winning games. According to Vogel, opposing defenses have only seen the tip of the iceberg with regards to what the Lakers can do offensively.
“[V]ogel said he expects the Lakers’ offense to look ‘very different than it looks right now’ as the season progresses, and Vogel gets more comfortable adding things to his playbook and scheme. ‘The whole year is a big evolution. If you do one thing well, the next opponent tries to take that away,’ Vogel told reporters. ‘You’re continuously seeing different attacks on both ends of the floor all throughout the year, and so it’s going to be a continual evolution.’”
The Lakers have a lot of talent and already look pretty evolved, so the idea that they can improve and somehow get better before the season ends has to be a scary prospect for opposing teams.