Coming into the season, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be one of the top championship contenders in the NBA. But halfway through, the Lakers sit barely above .500 as the partnership between LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis hasn’t quite gelled the way they all hoped.
No doubt contributing to the struggles has been James’ injury early in the season, as well as Davis’ knee injury later, which has kept him out for over a month. But recently, James and Westbrook have had plenty of time to build some of that much-needed chemistry.
But when asked about it, LeBron was quick to point out that while the Lakers are at the halfway point, the same can not be said about his time on the court with Westbrook as they continue to get more comfortable with each other.
“I think it’s half the season for our record, but it’s not half the season for us on the floor,” James noted. “I haven’t played in half the games. So I think every game we continue to learn each other, we continue to see ways we can both help each other when we don’t have the ball.
“My impact in that sense knowing how much of a threat he is with the ball, I’ve been able to kind of take away when he’s on the floor being more of a pick-and-pop guy or pick-and-roll guy trusting him with the ball. And then when I have the ball, he’s done a pretty good job of being either in the dunker or payoff spots or on the perimeter.”
Westbrook and James have done well in that pick-and-roll combination as trying to stop two athletes of that caliber is a difficult proposition. The two superstars have continued to work hard in improving their partnership and LeBron believes there is progress being made.
Furthermore, James still believes Westbrook has to trust his jumper even though it isn’t falling yet. “I think he’s just got to continue to trust his shot, I mean obviously his shot has fallen for him as of late, but I think he’s just got to continue to trust that.
“So we love when he’s playing at a high level, we love when he’s playing at a high motor, pushing the tempo because when we’re really good, we’re getting fastbreak points and it starts with Russ attacking early in transition and things of that nature. So we’ll continue to do that.”
LeBron has continually supported Westbrook throughout this season and they will continue to work hard to improve their chemistry. With Davis on the mend and potentially returning in the near future, the Lakers could soon be whole and really be able to build chemistry and reach the levels they envisioned before the season.
James evaluates Lakers at midway point of the season
Over the past few weeks, the Lakers have been playing better and LeBron believes that is something the Lakers could potentially continue in the second half of the season. But most importantly, the Lakers are getting healthy.
“I think as of late, before tonight, we’ve played some really good basketball,” James said after the Lakers’ loss to the Grizzlies. “We want to continue to trend over the next 42. Like I said, the best thing about our ballclub right now is that we’re getting healthy. We’re logging minutes, we’re getting some good chemistry and obviously, we played a great team tonight… But I feel like if we continue to do what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, probably the last month, then we’ll play much better in the second half than we did in the first.”
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