The Los Angeles Lakers were in need of just one replacement player for the NBA restart at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and they signed JR Smith was signed to replace Avery Bradley.
He seemingly was the only candidate considered after working out with the team once already this season. Some of that, as Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained, was related to Smith’s fit alongside LeBron James.
“That was a factor. His familiarity with LeBron and the way we built our team obviously around LeBron, there’s a lot of similarities to the things they did in Cleveland,” Vogel said.
“That definitely is a factor in what we feel JR can bring to the table in what’s going to be a very short time to get acclimated. We have a pretty simple system that we hope can be picked up pretty quickly. Our guys picked it up pretty quickly to start this season, and we hope it’s going to be the same for both Dion and JR.”
Smith and James played together on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-18. Smith’s three-point shooting — 38.1% during that stint — was part of the reason he was so successful with James. Although he’s most remembered for a gaffe in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, Smith is still a solid option for L.A.
Teams that have great talent at the top of the roster usually have more straight-forward game plans, as they don’t need to do as much in order to succeed. Having James and Anthony Davis makes things fairly simple for the rest of the team, and that led to the Lakers having a 49-14 record at the time of the hiatus.
Smith primarily being a shooter, he’ll fit right into the Lakers’ scheme. He may not play much due to the talent ahead of him on the roster, but could make an impact in lineups with James, Davis, and a defensive-minded guard like Danny Green or Alex Caruso.
The best part about signing Smith is on the chemistry side of things. The Lakers were known this season for how well everyone got along and were truly a family off the court. Smith does not disrupt this in any way, in part due to his prior relationship with James.
Knowing how a James-led team operates is a huge advantage, since Smith can now just step in and learn how to be successful in a very short period of time.
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