It’s one thing to give no effort on the defensive end of the floor, but it’s a totally different thing to have no clue what you are doing. That looks to be the case for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. They have no clue on how to take proper angles, they don’t know their personnel, and have no idea what giving multiple efforts means.
To me, defense is common sense — you shouldn’t need schemes to know to stay in front of your man, or to be able to fill in a gap when a hole opens up. You either have the intelligence to play it, or you don’t. Therefore, it is very hard to teach. In fact, since the NBA implemented zone rules back in 2001, it is much easier to cause chaos defensively, as a perimeter player can effectively sag just outside the paint to give better help, so why is this team so paltry?
Too many times I see Laker opposition blow past their man and someone like Robert Sacre or Jordan Hill has to come over and help — the problem is the guard that just got beat, for example, Kendall Marshall or Jordan Farmar have to get back into the play. They need to hustle back and drop to the level of the ball to potentially intercept a pass to the unoccupied big, or be there to help grab a rebound. Instead, the Laker perimeter players just stand there and give up, which essentially leads to a two on one situation for the other team.
Then you have Pau Gasol, who has completely forgotten how to take the right angle when a guard drives in the lane. Gasol either allows the guard to go into his body and score, or he doesn’t square his shoulders up to where the player will release the ball. His new favorite thing to do is not come over at all, and then give a sheepish look to the bench after an uncontested lay-up. Playing defense is much more than just effort, it takes basketball IQ to play it at a high level, something the Lakers clearly do not have.