LeBron James looking to change style of play with Lakers?
The supporting cast around LeBron James was not good enough to win a championship last season, and no one is surprised he wanted a change of scenery. But with the Los Angeles Lakers, he is apparently hoping he can significantly change his style of play.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne provided an in-depth look at how Magic Johnson and the Lakers’ front office landed James, and apparently they pitched the 33-year-old on the idea of changing the way he plays. Rather than surrounding LeBron with players who are primarily outside shooters and defensive liabilities, L.A. wants to do things differently.
What Johnson pitched to James was a team stocked with tough-minded playmakers like Stephenson and Rondo who could free up James to finish in the lanes and from the post, rather than having to create the lion’s share of the offense himself. Rondo and Stephenson are also defensively versatile, as their length enables them to be effective defenders in switches. That also follows with the talents of the 6-foot-6 Ball, who showed the ability to be an elite rebounder and defender for a guard in his rookie year.
“I know some people are rolling their eyes, but I like what the Lakers have done,” a rival Western Conference executive said. “You can find shooters. They’ve taken some in the last few drafts. Playmakers matter and are harder to find.”
As Windhorst and Shelburne note, LeBron has studied the careers of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, both of whom moved to the post and played less on the wing later in their careers. The Cavs teams James has been on in recent years needed him to play on the perimeter and run the offense, but the Lakers are hoping to help him change that.
Johnson was obviously a major factor in LeBron’s decision, and a report we heard about Luke Walton’s involvement makes you wonder how coaching will contribute to the philosophy the new-look Lakers have in place. In any event, it sounds like LeBron is willing to stick with the Lakers for several seasons in order to build something. Whether or not Father Time allows that remains to be seen.