LeBron James and Anthony Davis will remain the two leaders of the Los Angeles Lakers for as long as they don the purple and gold jersey. Their position on the top of the team’s hierarchy was further strengthened in the summer when the front office brought back only the two All-Stars and Talen Horton-Tucker from last season’s roster.
With such a heavy overhaul taking place at Staples Center, no one could expect the new Lakers to hit it off from the very first game. L.A. is still working on building chemistry and mutual understanding between the players as shown by the five-game losing streak to start the 2021 preseason. Particularly, Russell Westbrook is yet to figure out how the extraordinary James-Davis duo can transform into a well-functioning Big 3 that features the 2017 NBA MVP.
Head coach Frank Vogel has said that considering the degree of changes that the Lakers went through in recent months, more load will likely befall James and Davis’ shoulders while the team is coming together and finding its identity.
“I think that’s going to be the case for all of our new guys, not just Russ,” Vogel said after Tuesday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
“[James and Davis] are most familiar with our system and with each other, they will carry the load early in that regard but we need everybody to hit the ground running. That’s going to be the expectation, we’re working hard to make sure that that takes place. But AD and LeBron, because they’ve been in our system, they’ll lead that.”
James embraces the challenge, adding that his main responsibility in the first few weeks of the 2021-22 season will be balancing his competitiveness and patience for the process.
“Me as a leader, my only job is myself not to get frustrated,” James said.
“If I don’t get frustrated, I think it will trickle down to everyone else. I’ve never been a person that’s okay with not being excellent. I understand things take time as well, so as long as I keep the main thing the main thing staying even keel with whatever’s going on with our ballclub that we’ll be fine.”
James, Westbrook & Davis comfortable with Lakers’ Big 3 debut
The Lakers’ Big 3 finally made his debut on Tuesday night against the Warriors. Yet, L.A. extended its preseason losing streak to five games, falling 111-99 to the visitors.
However, James, Westbrook, and Davis felt comfortable with the performance of the NBA’s new All-Star trio despite the loss — although admit lots of work still needs to be done before they live up to the fans’, and their own, expectations.
“Yeah, we saw some great things,” Davis said after the game. “With me, Bron, and Russ in actions, there’s endless possibilities of things that we can run and can do especially with shooters on the backside like Melo and Baze, all our shooters.”
Westbrook added: “We had some good spurts. Obviously, this is the first game. Some good things we can take from it. Watching film, figure out spacing, timing. We can be a little encouraged by it.”
While James said: “It’s all about working the process and being patient with the process. Understanding that we’re going to have frustrating moments, we’re going to have moments where we’re not quite there and may take a step backward.”
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