LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are proving to be a force as they stacked their fifth straight win, this time against another playoff contender in the San Antonio Spurs.
The defense has been the most impressive thing about this version of the Lakers as they have made it an emphasis to ensure they contest shots, protect the paint, and ultimately make opponents earn their points. As a result, the Lakers are one of the league leaders in points allowed and only figure to get better as they continue to build chemistry.
Aside from the defense, James has also taken it upon himself to direct the team’s offense and he has proven to be more than capable of putting he and his teammates in optimal spots to score. He talked about his progression as their de facto lead guard, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I’m getting better and better at the point guard position, just trying to know where my guys are, put them in position to be able to just catch and shoot, catch and lay the ball up, just make them as comfortable as possible out there and Coach Vogel is allowing me to run the show.
So tonight I was good at times, I wasn’t so good at times, had a couple of careless turnovers. Didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the field, struggled at the free throw line, but you just try to do other things to try to help your team win. I was able to do that.”
James has historically always been the primary ball handler on any team he has been on, but it is even more apparent with the Lakers as he is he often the one bringing the basketball up court and initiating their sets.
While there is some concern this could unnecessarily tax James in the regular season, he has still embraced the role and as a result, he is now leading the league in assists (10.8 per game).
Playing off another dominant player like Anthony Davis has allowed James to force opponents into picking their poison. The two All-Star players already have a budding two-man game and that in turn has allowed James to effectively distribute the ball to the rest of his teammates.
The purple and gold have done well in the early going and they should be able to extend their win streak when they take on the Chicago Bulls.