When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, it signaled the storied franchise was going to once again be relevant.
Despite a slow start to the 2018-2019 NBA season, the Lakers have picked up their play and own a 9-7 record now.
Los Angeles’ early struggles prompted a meeting with president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and head coach Luke Walton where the former was reportedly upset with the lack of a system on both ends of the floor. However, Walton has seemingly remedied the issue as his players are far more engaged on a nightly basis.
In an interview during the Miami Heat game, Johnson voiced his satisfaction with his team’s recent play, according to Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation:
“A lot of progress. We’re still trying to learn how to play with each other and trying to learn each guy, where he likes it, how he likes it. But what I’m liking is the defensive end. We’re coming together, we’re pressuring the ball. When we pressure the ball, we play well, we get in the passing lanes. It’s still a work in progress but I’m happy with where we are. I (still) want us to get better and better and better, and we will. I’ve always said it’s going to take us about a month and a half to really understand how to play with each other. So, it’s coming. Look for us after the first of the year. I think we’re going to be playing really good basketball.”
The offense has had no issue scoring, especially since James started heating up from the field. The roster was flawed defensively with several players allowing dribble penetration and easy baskets at the rim.
However, the recent signing of Tyson Chandler and continued communication has resulted in better defensive efforts. In their win against the Heat, the Lakers actually managed to hold them to under 100, an encouraging sign going forward.
Johnson seems to be willing to allow the purple and gold to play through their early struggles given the number of new players on the roster. It will be interesting to see if they can continue their improved play when they face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers.