It feels as though LeBron James’ return to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup is imminent. Everything is pointing towards him returning some time in the next couple of games, meaning a massive shift in roles is going to occur for everyone who is currently playing, with perhaps the biggest change coming for Dennis Schroder.
In the 19 games since James went out with his high ankle sprain, Schroder has done a fantastic job carrying the load for the Lakers. He’s averaged 17.4 points, 7.9 assists, and 1.4 steals on 45.6% from the field and 40.3% from three. However, he’ll need to adjust once James comes back, and he appears ready to do so.
When asked what his role will look like in the postseason, he gave his thoughts on how he’ll impact the team and what his goals are. “[Jared Dudley] always comes to me and says ‘listen, you’re the guy.’ LeBron is gonna do his thing, AD is gonna do his thing, I think we still got a lot of firepower in this locker room but when it comes to floor general, getting a bucket if we need to, hold it down when LeBron is not on the floor or whatever it is, I try to help my team with that.
“And like I said, I’m ready for whatever comes. I will take the challenge and I’m trying to get to that ultimate goal.”
In the 11 games remaining before the end of the regular season, Schroder said the focus has to be on getting wins and playing good basketball. “I think we just got to play our best basketball heading into the playoffs. I think that’s our goal right now, try to get as many wins as possible as a team, on the defensive end really lock in and be able to adjust to elite point guards or elite bigs, whatever it is, to really lock in and get stops.”\
“I think in the first quarter we really set that point and we just got to keep building from here and I mean, it’s 11 games out. There’s no excuses no more. Bron is about to come back soon too, hopefully, and then it’s on.”
While getting James back is absolutely a positive thing, Schroder did say that playing without him for a while forced everyone to play their most aggressive basketball, something everyone wants to stick with once James returns.
“Without [LeBron], of course, I handle the ball more,” Schroder said. “I think we all, like KCP’s aggressiveness changed, but he can’t change it when LeBron comes back and that’s what we’ve been talking about and that’s what Bron is saying to us as well like ‘guys when we’re playing we got to all be aggressive like that.’
“So I can’t wait for him to come back, he always tells me ‘Dennis you’ve got to be aggressive, you’re not just a normal point guard, do your s—.’ And I mean, we’re really excited to get started again with him soon and like I said, we’re gonna be ready.”
James coming back to the court for the Lakers is a very exciting thing, but the players who had to play with him and without Anthony Davis for a long while should be commended for the work they did. Now, it’s just a matter of keeping that same energy and aggression even when those players are not the main focuses.
If players like Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can easily transition back to their roles, the Lakers’ path to a championship appears clear.
Harrell brought sense of energy in Lakers recent win
The Lakers came out of the gates hot against the Orlando Magic. Then, all of a sudden, they went ice cold on both ends of the floor. This forced Montrezl Harrell, fresh off of a DNP the game before, to step up and be the hero. He did so, keeping the Lakers afloat until everyone got their rhythm back, leading to an 11 point win.
“I play with a lot of energy and a lot of passion because every day I get to wake up and put my shoes on to play the game of basketball and take care of my family and my loved ones. I’m going to play with the same energy and the same passion every game I’m out there. Just leave it all out on the floor like I said doing the little things and all the small things that show up to help our team to win really.”
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