Once LeBron James agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, the attention quickly turned to what kind of team the Lakers would put around him.
Even before the James signing, shooting was known to be one of the biggest priorities for the team this offseason, but their free agent signings haven’t necessarily followed that.
Re-signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who shot over 38 percent from deep last season, certainly helps, but Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee do nothing to help the team’s spacing. They do, however, fit in with what Magic Johnson reportedly pitched to LeBron when the two met at the outset of free agency.
According to Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Johnson pitched James a team filled with playmakers and defenders that will lessen his burden on both ends of the floor:
What Johnson pitched to James was a team stocked with tough-minded playmakers like Stephenson and Rondo who could free up James to finish in the lanes and from the post, rather than having to create the lion’s share of the offense himself. Rondo and Stephenson are also defensively versatile, as their length enables them to be effective defenders in switches. That also follows with the talents of the 6-foot-6 Ball, who showed the ability to be an elite rebounder and defender for a guard in his rookie year.
This idea makes a ton of sense as the load that James had to carry in Cleveland was far too much. Players like Stephenson and Rondo, along with the young players such as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball are all more than capable of making plays for themselves and others, which should allow James to get himself more easy baskets than he has in the past.
There may still be some questions about the team’s ability to space the floor and shoot from deep, but the front office obviously had a plan. Whether or not it ultimately works remains to be seen, but taking some of the burden off James was a key point and they have done that.
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