"It was just terrible,” Los Angeles Lakers' coach Byron Scott lamented after Wednesday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. "That was probably the worst defense that we've played from the preseason all the way to this particular point."
Sixty points in the paint, 109 points allowed and the seventh loss in eight games finally cracked the Lakers' coach brought in to specifically teach defense. So far, the class is failing.
Whether reviewing traditional statistics or advanced statistics, the Lakers are dead last in defense. Through eight games, the Lakers have allowed 111.5 points per game. That is the most by any team in the league. In the advanced statistics medium, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 114.4, which is the highest of any team in the league. This means the Lakers allow 114.4 points per 100 possessions.
To provide perspective, the Lakers' defensive rating in 2013-14 under Mike "no defense" D'Antoni was 107.9, and they allowed 109.9 points per game.
What this means is that the Lakers brought in a coach whose calling card listed defense at the top, dedicated a full training camp to learning how to defend, and still ended up worse than a season ago.
After eight games, the Lakers have only managed to hold an opponent under 100 points on one occasions, and not coincidentally, that occasion marked their lone win.
"To be honest with you, most of the time, the things that we want to do, they haven't done," Scott played revealed during his post game frustrations.
"I want to at least see if they can do it," Scott said. "If they can't, then we'll change. And I've told our guys that. We want to see in the next three or four games if we can do that, and if we can't, then we'll change and go to something else."
Advanced statistics can further quantify how bad the Lakers have been. The NBA tracks individual players' defensive ratings. For example, Carlos Boozer's 121.4 defensive rating is the worst on the Lakers. This means that for every 100 possessions Boozer is on the court, the Lakers give up 121.4 points. That is not good.
Kobe Bryant's defensive rating is the third worst on the team at 118.7, but at this early junction, the stats are not indicative of each player as much as the unit they play with. The Lakers' starting unit comprises the five players with the highest defensive rating because the starting unit is struggling to stop any opposition. Boozer, Wesley Johnson, Bryant, Jordan Hill and Jeremy Lin have the highest defensive ratings on the Lakers, in that order.
On the flip side of that coin, Robert Sacre has a defensive rating of 94.8, which leads the team. Sacre also has the best offensive rating on the team at 114.8, but that's a discussion for another time.
For now, the Lakers are the worst defensive team in the NBA.