Four Lakers Get All-Defensive Votes

If the 2020-21 Lakers season was most notable for all of the games missed to injury by key players, there was another consistent theme, nonetheless: excellent defense.

In fact, despite LeBron James and Anthony Davis – L.A.’s two best defensive players – out for a combined 63 games, the Lakers finished the 72-game season with a defensive rating of 106.8, No. 1 in the NBA.

When Davis was injured on Feb. 14, the Lakers had a defensive rating of 104.5, well ahead of No. 2 Utah’s 107.0, with the two teams jockeying back and forth for the league’s best record (LAL = 21-6, Utah = 22-5). L.A. still managed to keep the NBA’s 4th-best defense from that point on despite either Davis or LeBron (injured on March 20) being out of the lineup. Meanwhile, key defenders Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Marc Gasol missed considerable action due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

And yet, Frank Vogel had the team’s defensive cylinders firing consistently.

A few awards voters singled out various Lakers, all of whom were impactful on the defensive end, as a result.

Caruso received five second-team All-Defense votes. KCP and Schroder both got one first place vote and two seconds. Anthony Davis – perhaps the best all-around defender in the NBA, and the runner-up DPOY last season – received two second team votes despite missing so much action.

Caruso’s numbers popped the most, as he finished third in the NBA in individual defensive rating at 101.7, behind only Utah’s Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert. LeBron wasn’t far behind, at 103.2.