When Anthony Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James decided it would be best to shift his role offensively for the 2019-20 NBA season.
And whether it was due to that decision or a necessity, James became the de facto point guard for the Lakers and it’s led to some incredible plays from the all-time great.
James letting the offense run through Davis has allowed him to rack up an incredible number of assists in the early going and through 12 games, the Lakers are 10-2 and James leads the NBA in assists. In fact, if the Lakers continue having success with this style of play, there’s no reason to believe James won’t win the NBA’s assist title — one of the rare things he’s yet to do in this league.
James said that his goal isn’t to win the assist crown but racking them up is his favorite part of the game as it gives others a chance to score, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I don’t know,” James said recently. “That’s never been a goal of mine. … The assist has always been my favorite because it gives my teammates an opportunity to score. And that’s what’s always mattered to me.”
In this phase of his career, James turning from a career 27.1 points per game scorer to a 24.3 points per game scorer with 11.1 assists is extremely remarkable. Whether James is doing it because he needs to or because he wants to prove people wrong, this could be one of the most impressive seasons of his career.
At 34-years-old and in his 17th season, he’s just 2.3 rebounds a game shy of averaging a triple-double and has done it on 3.7 minutes per game less than his career average.
James is without a doubt one of the greatest players of all time but if he can shift how he plays the game of basketball in order to elongate his career in such a seamless way, he might find himself at the top of that list where many already believe he resides.
This is also likely to help Davis feel at home with this team, especially as he enters unrestricted free agency. If the Lakers have a deep playoff run and James continues this level of play, Davis would find it pretty hard not to return on a long-term deal.
This season just continues to add to James’ legacy and an assist title would be just the icing on the cake for him.