The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in a game that will reveal more of the Lakers’ true colors early in the year.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been great thus far this season. In fact, through a tenth of the NBA season, the Lakers are the best team in the league, albeit there is still a lot of time before that can become a concrete assessment.
The Lakers are 7-1 on the season and have won seven in a row after dropping the first game of the season to the Los Angeles Clippers. With that Clippers’ loss behind them, Laker fans are raving about this start.
It is hard to blame them as the team was uncharacteristically awful the last six years, missing the playoffs more times in those six years than the franchise had prior.
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However, fans might be getting a bit too excited, as while the Lakers have looked good, there are some signs that this hot start may not be indicative of the true talent level of this team. They are a good team, and a top-four team in the West at worst, but might not be as good as the 7-1 start indicates.
First of all, the team has been stellar defensively, which should not have been surprising as we touted the team’s defensive playmakers prior to the year. I do not think they are the best defensive team in the league, in which they have been the first eight games.
Most of the teams that the Lakers have played are not great defensive teams. The Jazz rank 28th in points per game, the Bulls 25th, the Hornets 23rd, the Grizzlies 19th, Miami 15th, the Spurs 13th, the Clippers ninth and Mavericks sixth.
Granted, the Lakers are part of the reason why some of these teams are ranked low, but they are not the only reason why. The only two top-10 offenses they played they lost to and would have lost to if Danny Green did not drain that three as time expired.
The Los Angeles Lakers have a good defense, there is no denying that, but it has gotten help thus far. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the team has to take on the seventh-highest scoring offense in the league with the second-best three-point percentage.
Speaking of three-point percentage, the Lakers have been the opposite of what we usually see in 2019 and have been really good despite struggles at the three-point line. The Lakers rank 28th in three-pointers made and 27th in three-point percentage.
Heck, there are a few things that the Lakers are not even doing that well. The team is 26th in total rebounds, 17th in assists and 29th in free throw attempts. The Lakers have been winning with a slightly overachieving defense and a mediocre offense.
The Raptors will tell us how good the Lakers really are. Toronto is going to rain threes down on the Lakers and is going to make around 40 percent of them. From there, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers can respond—whether or not they can lock down defensively or keep up with Toronto from beyond the arc.
This game will be telling, but we still cannot overreact either way. Regardless of the outcome, we will learn a little bit more about what we should expect from the Los Angeles Lakers in the remaining 90 percent of the season.