Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers are two games into their long 82-game regular season and are integrating a host of new players around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Even the returnees from this year’s team mostly arrived in Los Angeles before last season’s trade deadline, making them relatively new to the system.
The Lakers are expected to compete for a championship in 2023-24, and part of that process will be the team integrating throughout the season. Things have looked a bit disjointed on offense so far, but a stellar defense against the Phoenix Suns has allowed them to go 1-1 in two games.
James is no stranger to building chemistry with new teams, having done so many times during his storied 21-year career. When he most recently won a championship with the Lakers in 2019-20, the roster consisted almost entirely of new players. So while the Lakers may not yet have elite-level chemistry and unity, James isn’t worried.
“I mean, it’s not where I wanted to be, but that’s okay,” James said of continuity in Los Angeles. “Looking forward to finally getting where we want to be. We’re trying to integrate new pieces into the system, so it’s going to take time. The coaches are still tweaking the lineup and when you see the different combinations tonight, it’s going to be on the pitch Something of this nature occurs.
“Our fourth quarter lineup was Gabe (Vincent), AD, C-Wood, myself and AR and/or DLo. This was the first time we had a matchup like this on the court at the same time, and I think for anyone with That’s true for games with Gabe, AR, myself, C-Wood and AD. We’re still trying to figure out what lineups work best for us and what combinations work best. You know, as we continue to watch the games and any film clips and things of that nature, we’ll find that we’re going to log minutes of work when we’re playing our best basketball and we’ll be able to get better results out of that. I mean, it’s going to take time. I guess I can’t say We don’t want to be anywhere, but that’s OK. Because I know there’s no way we’re going to be where I want to be right now.”
Even so, James has seen a lot of positives in this Lakers team so far. But James isn’t one to just stick with praise, as the positive outlook has led to some significant areas of improvement that he’s already seen.
“There’s a lot to like, but I thought how we rose to the challenge. I thought early in the game we didn’t play to our ability. We gave up a lot of extra points, a lot of second-chance points. We knew a few days It killed us the night before in Denver. It was killing us in the first half. We made adjustments. We talked about it and then we got it done.
“We knew that in order to win this game we had to rise to the challenge defensively. We accepted the challenge and got the job done. So, knowing you’re going to be up against somebody, being on your team, challenging your teammates, that’s always It’s great. You’re able to pivot and make changes. Don’t take it personally. We’re all professionals. We all want to win. We have a common goal and that’s to win every night and do it at a high level. Level to compete. So I like how we challenge each other and apply it that way.”
James has never been one to panic over any shortcomings on his team early in the regular season. In fact, many of his best teams struggled in the first half but were able to excel when it mattered most.
Whether the Lakers are on the same trajectory remains to be seen, but James clearly believes the team can be at its best.
James discusses moving beyond soft minutes limit
After discussions about limiting James’ playing time to around 28-30 minutes per game, James played 35 minutes in the Lakers’ win over the Suns. The report stated that the data of 28 wins and 30 losses is more of a reference value, which was proved when James played more games out of necessity on Thursday.
“He asked me if he could go in the quarter. I looked at the time, the score, what was going on in the game, and it was an easy answer for myself,” James said. “I know how hard I worked to get through the quarterfinals or whatever happens and understand that we’ve definitely got a system in place. But tonight required me to come out of the woodwork today. Coach Hamm was cool. … … He was able to use that wisely to rest himself and rest the team, and I felt really fresh coming into the game. … Coach trusts me and I have to go out there and prove it.”
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