Los Angeles' absence of adequate height will only contribute to a portion of an overall poor defensive output. Although the Lakers won't allow 109.2 points per game as they did under Mike D'Antoni last season, the team will still offer up subpar play on this end of the court.
New head coach Byron Scott is intent on enhancing Los Angeles' defensive efforts. Recently, he explained his plan to NBA.com's Mike Trudell:
Defensive philosophy has to be constant. This is no knock on Mike at all, but there were games where they were playing defense one way, and other games where they played it differently. When I go into the season, there are three ways we’re going to guard side pick and rolls, for example: we’re going to down it, hard show, or red it (trap). If you do it from day one, guys get better at it because they’re working on it every day in practice. I want to establish those things day-to-day, and if you do that, it takes a lot of the thinking away and gets back to reacting.
Scott will stress defense, and the Lakers will subsequently improve.
However, with the players they possess, they just won't do so by much.
In addition to the aforementioned trials that the bigs will endure, many of the Lakers' perimeter players have their defensive weaknesses as well.
Jeremy Lin can contain his man, but he tends to get lost off the ball. Johnson and Henry are decent, but they will struggle against skilled wings. Young is offensive-minded, and his exertion on defense will be inconsistent. And when Nash checks into the contest, all hope will be lost.
Even Kobe, who has qualified for 12 All-Defensive teams in his day, is a huge question mark on this end. Are his knees capable of handling significant responsibility on both sides of the ball? Most likely, his defense will take a hit.
With these types of doubts and shortcomings, Los Angeles won't prove a force in stopping the opposition.
Additionally, Coach Scott failed to land the Cleveland Cavaliers outside the bottom five in defensive efficiency all three years he coached there. It is evident the Lakers will not drastically rise the ranks defensively.
Los Angeles' efforts will get better. But the team will still finish among the 10 worst defenses, and this will accordingly end the season early in April.