After 20 years, NBA Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett thinks it’s time for a change.
“LeBron and [Kevin Durant], it’s time for them to be spot-up [shooters],” Garnett said in a clip previewing an upcoming episode of Showtime Basketball’s “Ticket & The Truth” on August 13. “We now gave the ball to them for ages. This been 20 years…Man, God d***, can they play off the ball once? Can they go in the corner and, now, someone make a play…for them to get a free shot?”
James, 38, is still one of the game’s best passers using his size and vision to pick defenses apart regularly.
Durant, who forced a trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns last season, is one of nine players with at least 900 appearances and a 30% usage rate or higher. The group above plus Hall-of-Famers Allen Iverson, Dominique Wilkins, and current Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden.
LeBron James’ Usage Rate Hit Career-Low in Postseason
He did, however, post a career-low 26.6% usage rate in the postseason.
That mark beat out his 26.9% rate in the now-infamous 2010-11 postseason, though, this time it could be related to a foot injury — which he said most doctors advised him to rest — rather some sort of a philosophical change. He also tied for the fourth-highest percentage of his made two-pointers that came from an assist and the second-highest mark on threes.
The Lakers made a run to the Western Conference Finals playing that way, too, surprising even some members of the team given their 2-10 start.
As James heads into his 21st season in the NBA, this is just another reminder that the Lakers need to be prepared for life after he is gone, be it in free agency or retirement. They need Davis to be the answer, and he will need help too.
Fortunately for him and the Lakers, that help may already be on the roster.
Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves Offer Hope for Lakers’ Future
“Let’s just say James leaves the Lakers after those two years, 22 seasons into his career and leaving Davis as the lone star on the roster,” wrote Zach Harper of The Athletic on August 8. The Lakers’ moves this summer left them a lot of flexibility for that time. Davis and Austin Reaves are locks for the long-term outlook.”
Davis has the physical ability and stature to carry the Lakers post-James, his durability has been an issue.
This is where Reaves could factor in.
He is set to start at shooting guard, per head coach Darvin Ham. And, after taking a big leap this past season and in the playoffs, he wants to improve as a playmaker, working on it with Team USA ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
If this experience pays off for Reaves as it has for other players like Davis in the past, the Lakers’ future could feature a little more stability on the floor than meets the eye. While Davis’ health will be a concern for the remainder of his tenure, having Reaves around to lighten that burden will keep him from having to draw similar ire from Garnett down the line.