At this point, we could probably all agree that it’s easy to get Lebron fatigue. Such is the plight of the best basketball player in the world, especially when he’s involved in so many different mediums of entertainment. Normally, I would focus on my team and their development rather than focus on Lebron topics. The interesting thing about this season (and for the foreseeable future) is that those two worlds mesh. It still feels weird to (state the obvious) but: Lebron James is a Los Angeles Laker. So even though you may be getting a little exhausted from the King James discussion, I must apologize to you, the reader, because he now falls into my priority during the season. As we have now completed the first quarter of games, I wanted to take time to give my take an early look at how this new era of Lakers are progressing.
Good: Potent Offense
Offensively, this team has been performing above my expectations. The team loves to get out and run and with guys like Lebron, Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball, there are plenty of opportunities to score in the open floor. The Lakers are eighth in the league in points per game and rank fifth in field goal percentage, meaning the team lands very efficient baskets. Even though are times where the team has dead periods, the team usually get back on track before long.
Good: Javale Mcgee
The player that I’m the most impressed by has to be Javale McGee. A few years ago, he was nearly out of the league. Who would’ve predicted he’d be a starting center again, let alone producing at the clip the way he currently is? There was talk that Lebron’s arrival would be beneficial to the young core (Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ball), however, it is McGee who has arguably been the second best player.
Good: Lebron’s Overall Game
Lebron has been good as ever and has - for the most part - proven to be a viable option to lead the young squad. After a shaky start from behind the arc, he’s starting to hit them at a good rate. He’s still unstoppable when it comes to getting to the rim and he’s already given the Lakers fans a few highlights, including a 51 point performance against the Miami Heat. He’s averaging 28, 8 and 7 (points, rebounds, assists) and up until their recent encounter with the Nuggets, has really had only one or two bad games in the first quarter of games.
Bad: Lebron’s Free Throws in the Clutch
Despite being a decent leader, Lebron’s free throw shooting late in games has been abysmal. There have been a quite a few games so far this season where the Lakers are in a one or two point game and Lebron has missed one or BOTH of the free throws given. I understand that Lebron has never been a great free throw shooter but this is a concerning predicament that could cost us more games. Just a bonus: I haven’t been impressed by the Lakers late game execution at all.
A few lapses here and there are acceptable, but the amount of inconsistency with this team is frustrating. Ingram and Ball do something that irks me at least five times a game. Although they are good players, it comes and goes too often to be worth anything as it stands. The Lakers fail to put in consistent effort as well. You’d think they’d be able to beat a solid Denver team, not struggle to beat the worst team in the league (Oh..hi, Cleveland), but that wasn’t the case as of last week when they took a 32 point L to Denver Nuggets. They’ll win against Portland, a team that’s been a consistent staple in the West for the last few years, but they’ve been swept for the year by…the Orlando Magic?! There is one thing that the Lakers are consistent at though…
“Dear Lord” Bad: Defense? What’s That?
The Lakers literally can’t guard a chair. An inanimate object could score against this team. Backdoors are welcomed by any opposing team. Considering driving down the lane? They pull the curtains open for you so you can dunk with ease! Not really into two pointers? Don’t worry pass the ball a couple times. You’ll be so wide open, it’ll feel like open gym! In all seriousness, if the Lakers are going to be formidable contenders, they HAVE to get this defense together. It needs to start with a veteran like Lebron. Lebron needs to lead by example and sticking your leg out when a player drives instead of providing solid help defense isn’t the way.
From my perspective, I am satisfied with the Lakers so far. Of course, I’d like a better record, but I think compared to the rest of the West, we’re on par. The Lakers absolutely have to develop better consistency across the board if they want to make noise in the playoffs and more importantly attract free agents next year.