James himself has said the offense should run through Davis, but ultimately it will be about new head coach Frank Vogel’s offensive system and what that calls for.
There is no doubt that things will run through Davis and James. In the team’s first preseason game, James was basically the point guard, operating as the primary playmaker to start and the pick-and-roll with him and Davis was practically unguardable.
For his part, Vogel has his own way of describing the Lakers offense. In an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Vogel acknowledged the obvious in that things will run through Davis and James, but said the ‘open man’ will be the focal point of the Lakers offense:
“The open man is the focal point, quite frankly. We have two offensive monsters, but it’s going to be about the open man. That’s what we have to accomplish. If we’re a team that doesn’t play for each other and doesn’t become a team-first team, we’re going to be limited even with those great offensive talents. We’re going to have the mindset that yes, we’re playing through those guys, but we’re going to attack to draw two and find the open man.”
Vogel’s point is an obvious one. Davis and James draw so much attention that there should be wide open, easy shots for everyone and it’s important for the Lakers to find those. To that point, after averaging 25.6 assists as a team last season, the Lakers have dished out over 30 assists in each of their first two preseason games.
The great part about both All-Star players is that each is an excellent passer as well, so they’ll each be able to take advantage of defenses shifting towards them. It’s also what makes the James-Davis pick-and-roll combination so difficult to stop.
It is an ideal way to play for a Lakers team with a number of excellent playmakers, but it will also put pressure on the rest of the team to knock down those open shots. Green, Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Alex Caruso are likely to be the recipients of plenty of open looks, but if they can’t knock them down consistently, it will all be for naught.
Vogel has a roster he likes and one that can compete with any in the league, so it will be on his system and the execution of them in order for the Lakers to accomplish their goals for the 2019-20 NBA season.