The recent struggles of the Lakers can be attributed to the poor defense. Opponents seem to be shooting at a high percentage against the Lakers and it’s something that needs to be addressed. As it stands, the Lakers are tied with several other teams at 15 in the defensive rating category. Only the Suns, Wizards, and Cavs are much worse and are at the bottom of the league. There is one lone player that has made a significant difference and his name is JaVale McGee. Now, if you told me that McGee would’ve made such a big impact when joining the team I would’ve told you that you were crazy. I honestly wasn’t expecting much from McGee when he decided to join the Lakers. Maybe a few points here and there, and grabbing some rebounds for the team. He’s been the second best player on the team and it’s not even close. You might be thinking to yourself, why is McGee the second best player when there are players such as Ball, Hart, Kuzma and Ingram? It’s because McGee has made such a big impact on the team defensively, the Lakers might not even be winning the games they have. McGee has been the Lakers best defensive player and he just might be a candidate for defensive player of the year by seasons end. McGee is leading the league in blocks at 3.4 bpg, while contributing 14.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and is shooting 61% from the field. Those numbers are quite impressive for someone who really hasn’t got a whole lot of significant playing time in his career. Now that McGee is a starter and getting quality minutes, he’s showing what he can do and is taking full advantage.
It’s really scary to think where the Lakers would be without his defensive numbers. Rumor has it that the Lakers will acquire Tyson Chandler from the Phoenix Suns after a buyout. Chandler, who hasn’t had much time on the floor with the Suns can bring some defense when McGee has a rest on the bench. It’s been a problem lately with the Lakers and this move might address that. Chandler is getting up in age at 36, but all the Lakers need is for someone who can hold down the fort for a few minutes. His numbers this season aren’t anything like it was in his younger days, and he’s averaging just 3.7 ppg. The positive is that he’s getting about 5.6 rpg and shooting 66% from the field. If the Lakers are to get better, the team has to come together and lock down opponents. It’s not going to happen every night, but they can surely be more assertive on effort.