For the first time, the Los Angeles Lakers had their expected starting lineup on the court on Friday night as LeBron James made his return to the court from a severely sprained ankle.
Unfortunately, the frontcourt of James, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond were unable to come away with a victory in their first game together.
The Lakers came up short in the fourth quarter, falling to the short-handed Sacramento Kings in what will surely be described as a disappointing outcome. Though there were some good moments for the Lakers, there was obviously still a bit of a feeling-out process as some lineups played together for the first time.
Despite the outcome, Drummond still believes in this team moving forward, stressing the need for more time on the court together.
“I don’t think anything will take much work,” Drummond said. “I think it’s just playing. Playing together and being on the same court and having that time to really get to gel and to be on the same court at the same time and just figure each other out.”
Most teams are able to build that chemistry and figure out lineups and rotations over the course of the season, but the Lakers have less than 10 games to get on the same page. Drummond doesn’t believe it will take too long for the team to come together, however.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything that takes us too long. We showed glimpses of how good we can be defensively. It’s just getting that time on the court like I said earlier. Just getting that same camaraderie with the same guys being out there at the same time.
“Once we have a steady lineup and rotation, I think defensively and offensively we’ll figure it out.”
The potential of the Lakers is apparent and at times they looked like the championship favorites many have labeled them as. There were stretches both offensively and defensively where everything clicked beautifully, but the Lakers were sloppy overall, committing 21 turnovers on the night, something that hadn’t been as big of an issue in recent games.
Drummond isn’t wrong in that the Lakers need more time together, there just isn’t much time left before the playoffs begin. If the Lakers can’t get it together quickly, they will be in a much worse position going into the postseason and face a much tougher road on their way to defending their 2020 NBA Championship.
James’ vocality on the court stood out to Drummond
Drummond does stand to benefit as much as anyone from the return of James to the court and in his first game with the Lakers star, there was a specific aspect of his game that stood out.
“I think it’s his awareness on both ends of the court,” Drummond said. “Just how vocal he is on both ends of the court. He makes the game very easy for everyone. I feel like he sees everything, he’s like a quarterback.
“So having him out there has been really fun, my first game being on the same side as him. It’s definitely been a great learning experience for me. I’m looking forward to being on the court with him more to build better things.”
James is one of the smartest players in NBA history and that will help integrate all of the Lakers’ pieces together. With such little time until the playoffs, that gives the Lakers a much better shot at coming together in short order.