Lakers News: LeBron James Discusses Importance Of Role Players In Today’s NBA
Austin Reaves, LeBron James, Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he is no longer in the playoffs as the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated in the first round, LeBron James has been watching the postseason very closely. And one thing that has stood out has been the performances of the role players on the teams still alive.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics have all been lifted at different points by some outstanding performances from players who aren’t the biggest stars. And on the latest edition of his Mind the Game podcast with JJ Redick, LeBron spoke on the impact the likes of Naz Reid, TJ McConnell and PJ Washington have had for their respective teams in these playoffs:

“You talk about last night’s Game 7 in Denver, we talk about how spectacular Antman has been this whoke postseason, last night he goes 6-for-24 from the field. I think at halftime, he had maybe two or four points. And in that fourth quarter, you saw Naz Reid, Rudy making plays, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaden McDaniels, he’s been huge all season but you see it even more in the postseason. Naz Reid last night, from the Eurostep he had left-right on Joker, get fouled on the offensive rebound, then he had a tip dunk from the corner. He had a big-time blocked shot on Joker late in that game as well, he was huge… So you’re absolutely right, the role players right now, with these four teams that’s left, are making all the plays.

“You saw PJ Washington. It seemed like every time PJ Washington got into foul trouble in that Dallas-OKC series, OKC had a little advantage. And when he was on the floor, the advantage was gone because PJ Washington was there… And obviously TJ McConnell, he’s just a coach’s dream. To be able to have a guy like that that comes in, knows exactly what he’s doing, push the tempo, he’s always gonna be high in assist-to-turnover ratio, and he’s just a dog. So you are absolutely right. This postseason is great and as much, obviously we know the narratives is always gonna go to the star guys, but to be honest, these games have been won by the MVPs of the role players.”

The Lakers star would continue on in his discussion, adding that while every team needs a star or two, they must also have those players who are simply stars at what they do:

“They are starring in their roles and they’re not doing nothing outside of what they do. This is what this postseason has been about and that’s what this top-four is all about. These top-four teams: Indiana, Boston, Dallas and Minnesota have a bunch of guys who star in their role and they do it every single night; they are great at what they do. If there’s any teams out here looking to see how to be successful, obviously you got to have a star. You got to have one, possibly two that are gonna make sure everybody stays even-keeled. But at the end of the day, you got to have those soldiers around.”

It is those knockdown shooters, dirty work players and lockdown defenders who can really make all the difference. The Lakers franchise he benefitted from this with all of their championships as well with the likes of Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, among the many role players whom the team wouldn’t have gotten rings without.

And now LeBron will be looking to see what the Lakers front office will do this summer in order to surround himself and Anthony Davis with those right role players the team needs to succeed. While there has been a lot of talk about L.A. chasing another third star, perhaps James is sending a message that he and Davis would benefit more from quality role players and depth around them.

All options on the table regarding LeBron James’ Lakers contract situation

Of course that is also assuming LeBron James will remain with the Lakers, which, while expected, is not a foregone conclusion. And as it currently stands, all options remain a possibility with the future Hall of Famer.

James can opt in to the final year of his deal or opt out and become an unrestricted free agent, which would allow him to sign a new deal with the Lakers or any other team in the league.

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