After LeBron James signed a four-year, $153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, expectations for the team immediately changed. Part of that stemmed from anticipation over how the young core would fare next to a player of his caliber.
Josh Hart, who earned the Las Vegas Summer League MVP Award, was one of the early Lakers to publicly embrace James. They spoke briefly prior to a game James attended, which came before he made any public remarks.
With Hart looking to take the next step in his development for the 2018-19 NBA season, he reflected on his first two matchups against his new teammate, via Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“It was like holy … the things that he does is just crazy,” said Hart, who scored 18 points in a Las Vegas Summer League playoff win July 15 with James watching courtside. “The way he sees plays even before they happen, his ability to get other guys involved and ability to take over games when he has to … he just has so much more to his game [than you think watching him from afar], and to see it firsthand, that is when I was kind of like, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing.'”
As James is widely considered the best player in the game today, head coach Luke Walton anticipates adjusting the offense to allow him to handle the basketball ‘a lot.’ That being said, the Lakers still intend to provide James with plenty of help.
As a result, Hart and the young core will need to learn how to play off the ball to fully maximize James’ passing abilities. Hart also worked on his playmaking during the offseason.
After winning 35 games during the 2017-18 season, the Lakers are not only looking to end their five-year playoff drought but become championship contenders. In an extremely competitive Western Conference, this may be James’ greatest challenge.
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