LeBron James has played with a variety of point guards throughout his career, with most believing a floor-space best complements him. That of course stems from James tending to shoulder the bulk of ballhandling duties.
Last season the Los Angeles Lakers assembled a roster with players they believed — and hoped — would alleviate that burden. Of course, James wound up taking on that responsibility anyhow in what ultimately amounted to a lost season because of the rash of injuries.
Now the Lakers have a team with only Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo both in the mold of a proverbial traditional point guard. Though, neither played in the season opener, and in a lineup that had a backcourt of Avery Bradley and Danny Green, James assumed the point guard role.
While Lakers head coach Frank Vogel attributed to largely being a matter of circumstance, he has made it clear James will be the team’s “primary ballhandler” throughout the season.
As Vogel evaluates options at point guard, James explained he doesn’t have a preference on the type of player to fill that role.
“I think what’s been very important and very key to the amount of winning I’ve done in my career is the coaching staff putting the players that complement each other on the floor,” he said.
Analytically, James and Rondo don’t grade as an ideal fit to be on the court together. However, Rondo has a reputation of making the game easier on teammates, which James values.
“He’s a natural point guard and he’s been able to do that his whole career by getting the ball up to guys in transition and allowing them to attack before the defense sets,” James said.
“Obviously we missed that in Game 1. Having another one of our quarterbacks out on the floor, I’m looking forward to that.”
Rondo’s suspension and injuries to he and James prevented the two from playing together for most of last season. With Rondo re-signing during free agency, the relationship between the veterans has continued to grow.
“Just our friendship, which is going to help our game. Continuing to learn each other, hang with each other off the floor, things of that nature,” James said.
“We’re two guys who at the end of the day we just want to win and put our teammates in a position to be successful. We always think about us last when it comes to the game, so that’s what it’s all about.”
Outside of Bradley, Caruso and Rondo, the Lakers have options at point guard in Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels. Whereas Bradley is more defensive-minded, and Caruso and Rondo can assist with running the offense, Cook and Daniels are shooters. That’s key for Vogel.
“We call that gravity, how much gravity a guy brings to the table. Troy Daniels and Danny Green are going to open up a lot of space just by being on the floor,” he said.
“Rondo is not guarded that way typically, but Rondo makes them pay when they don’t honor him. He’s going to do that even more so this year than ever. It would be a concern for me if a guy wasn’t a three-point shooter at all. But that’s not the case with Rajon.”