Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Worst Defenders on the Lakers

Joshua SextonSenior Analyst IIAugust 10, 2011

Los Angeles Lakers: 5 Worst Defenders on the Lakers

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    The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the best defensive teams in the league the last two seasons, ranking in the top ten in 2010 and 2011. But this doesn’t mean every player wearing purple and gold is a great individual defender.

    The recent criticisms of Derek Fisher’s defense are well documented and usually warranted. But D-Fish certainly isn’t the only questionable defender on the team.

    This article will rank the five worst defenders on the Lakers.

    I only ranked players who played more than nine minutes per game. It’s a little unfair to pick on the guys who don’t play.

5. Matt Barnes

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    Matt Barnes has never been considered  a bad defender. In fact, many thought the Lakers improved their defensive stock by signing him in the summer of 2010.

    Lakers fans had visions of Barnes, Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant being a defensive juggernaut, with the ability to shut down perimeter-oriented teams like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics in the playoffs.

    But Barnes never found his rhythm in Los Angeles last season, due to a cut in minutes (his lowest since 2005-06) and a mid-season knee injury.

    With a bigger sample size of playing time, Barnes will hopefully remind everyone why fans were excited about him coming to the Lakers in the first place.

4. Shannon Brown

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    While Shannon Brown is one of only young, athletic players the Los Angeles Lakers have on their roster, he is still very much an average defender.

    It appeared as though Brown was on his way to improving his overall game at the beginning of last season, averaging 11 points in the month of November. But Brown’s overall production declined as the season wore on.

    Brown’s overall inconsistency has likely kept his defensive game from improving.

3. Luke Walton

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    Considering Luke Walton’s lack of playing time the last two seasons (nine minutes a game), we will exempt him from being lower in the rankings than he probably deserves to be.

    But Walton ultimately lacks the physical gifts to defend his NBA brethren.

    The only thing saving Walton from being a complete and total liability is his basketball I.Q.

    Walton is one of the smartest players on the team, who had a great understanding of Phil Jackson’s philosophies on both offense and defense.

2. Steve Blake

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    Steve Blake was signed by the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2010, in hopes of improving the team’s outside shooting and defense at the point guard position.

    Unfortunately, he largely failed to improve either.

    While his failures to help the team’s shooting were talked about endlessly, Blake’s defensive struggles didn’t receive as much attention.

    Of the nine players who were part of the team’s regular rotation, Blake had the highest defensive rating (108), which reflects the amount of points allowed per 100 possessions.

    Stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.

1. Derek Fisher

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    Earlier in his career, Derek Fisher was considered to be a decent defensive point guard. Unfortunately for Fisher, those days are long gone.

    One of the biggest weaknesses of the team is Fisher’s inability to stay in front of the league’s young, quick point guards.

    Last season, the Lakers received the least amount of their offensive production (11.0 PPG) from the point guard position. In addition, the majority of the opposition’s scoring (20.7 PPG) came from the point guard position.

    Both of these statistics resulted in an overall -9.7 net production from the Lakers at the point guard position—the lowest in the NBA.

    So, all the things you are hearing about the Lakers needing to upgrade at point guard (for both offensive and defensive reasons) are more than likely spot on.

    Stats courtesy of 82games.com