Despite getting off to a red-hot 5-1 start, the Lakers are still learning to play alongside one another. While it isn’t unrealistic to think the team will only get better as the season goes on, one ESPN analyst feels that the Lakers haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of just how deadly they could be.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis Not Even ‘Close’ to Max Upside, According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst
Brian Windhorst saying LeBron James and Anthony Davis are only functioning at a “3 out of 10” level sounds somewhat ridiculous when you look at the numbers. Davis is coming off a Western Conference Player of the Week award while James has a pair of back to back triple-doubles in his last two games. However, taking a look beyond the gaudy numbers you see both men turning the ball over an abnormally large amount – particularly James.
This is in large part due to James still learning to play the role of sole offensive facilitator for the Lakers. Playing as the point guard on offense, James has a bit of a learning curve. While he has experience facilitating the offense from his point forward role in year’s past, he has always had help. This is the first time in James’ career that he has been solely responsible for running the entire show.
James will only get more comfortable in his point guard role and learning to share the court with Davis. As James learns the nuances of Davis’ game, the two will inevitably only become more efficient and deadly on offense. So while their current level being a “3 out of 10” may seem crazy, it actually might be true.
Lakers’ Outside Shooting Troublesome Despite Strong Start
Aside from James and Davis’ chemistry needing more time to grow, the Lakers also have a minor cause for concern regarding their three-point shooting. While Danny Green has been lights out and Avery Bradley has been serviceable, the rest of the Lakers’ shooters have struggled mightily to start the season.
Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook, both career 40% shooters from deep, are shooting only 21% and 27% respectively. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has seemed to begin turning things around after not making his first field goal until the third game of the season but even he’s still only shooting 27% from deep.
As a whole, the Lakers are shooting an atrocious 31% from deep, good for 25th in the league. Given how many open looks LeBron James and Anthony Davis produce, that number needs to be significantly higher in order for the offense to function at a sustainable level throughout the season. The re-addition of Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo should help with that – particularly Rondo.
The Laker bench has struggled to create open looks for shooters like Cook, Daniels, and Caldwell-Pope in large part due to the team not having a true point guard when James rests. This leads to stagnant offensive possesions where Cook, Daniels, or Caldwell-Pope is forced into taking a contested three-pointer late in the shot clock. Rondo’s ability to create open looks for his teammates should help get them more open looks from deep and could be a huge stabilizing factor on the second unit.