When it was first announced that LeBron James was signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, many believed that a second superstar was on the way to join him.
But as free agency came and went, he remained the only max-caliber free agent to sign with the Lakers. The team did add veterans Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley to the fold.
The blend of veterans join a young Lakers core that will be entering into pressure-filled situations that they haven’t dealt with before, but head coach Luke Walton isn’t worried about it. “I think they’re going to do great, honestly,” he recently said.
One reason why Walton is confident because of James’ presence and influence. “Part of what I’m hearing from other coaches is one of the things that makes LeBron so great is he picks up every single person he plays with,” Walton explained. “And he elevates their game.”
A player like James, who is an extremely high IQ player with great court vision and excellent passing, can certainly help the young Lakers players step their game up. The attention he draws will open up opportunities and Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are all more than capable of making shots, and setting up others for better scoring opportunities as well.
Additionally, Walton believes his young players are ready to step up, and have been working hard to prepare themselves. “I know who our young players are and what they’re about. They’re excited he’s here,” Walton said.
“I think the type of players they are and type of workers they are, they’re going to have a really good year.”
Of course, things that look good on paper still take time to fit together on the court, but Walton is confident it will work out, especially with LeBron. “Obviously, it’s going to take time,” the Lakers head coach acknowledged.
“Like every new team that gets together. But that’s part of the fun and enjoying the process, is getting these pieces to fit. I think LeBron will make that easier.”