LeBron James Gets Honest About Lakers’ Offense After Preseason Debut

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the Los Angeles Lakers‘ first game with their full roster available to head coach Darvin Ham, they came away with a 129-126 win over the Brooklyn Nets. It was the second preseason contest for the Lakers.

But LeBron James sat out the first game for precautionary reasons in his 21st NBA season.

With James getting the start, the Lakers got up 29 three-point attempts in the first half and 55 threes taken in the game, both of which would have been among their highs for last season.

“It’s a lot of good things that came out of the game,” James said via Spectrum Sportsnet on October 9. “We have better shooting this year. … When teams go under our pick-&-rolls, or teams disrespect us from the perimeter, we have enough shooting that we believe we can go up there and knock them down with confidence and with a high clip.”

James and Anthony Davis combined to go 2-for-6 from beyond the arc. Davis attempted three or more threes just 11 times last season while James surpassed that mark in all but two of his appearances last season.

“It’s still a work in progress,” James said. “It’s just one game.”

Davis intimated that there was a concerted effort to get up more threes to keep up with the times in the NBA.

“We talked about getting more threes up,” Davis said. “Obviously, there’s been a point of emphasis with the way the league has shifted to a lot of threes. … We just want to be confident in our shots and let them fly.”

The Lakers ranked 26th in three-point attempt rate last season and 24th in three-point efficiency, per Basketball Reference. Even in their preseason-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers attempted 38 triples, a mark they met or surpassed just 11 times at a team last season.

James noted it still starts with “putting pressure on the rim and getting to the free throw line.”

Los Angeles was sixth in points in the paint per game last season, per NBA.com. Their 37.6% mark through two preseason games would have ranked seventh last season.

LeBron James Reveals Key to Lakers Playing With Pace

“We have the ability with our team now to, whoever rebounds the ball can bring the ball up and start our offense,” James said. “Everyone has that freedom, everyone has that ball-handling ability to do that, to start our offense. … That gets guys getting out on the floor and running.”

The Lakers re-signed Austin Reaves and De’Angelo Russell this offseason. But they also signed Gabe Vincent in free agency and drafted combo guard Jalen Hood-Schifino in the first round of this year’s draft. Hood-Schifino is not likely to make an impact this season, underscoring the depth the Lakers have in the backcourt.

Pace wasn’t an issue for the Lakers last season as they boasted the fourth-highest mark in the NBA.

But James noted that they are able to get into their offense even faster than in years passed.

NBA in Las Vegas ‘Just Makes Sense,’ LeBron James Says

James was also asked about his push to have an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. It was the locale for the win over the Nets. And James has been pushing since last year and in a similarly public fashion.

“It just makes sense,” James said. “Obviously, you have the Raiders here, you have the Knights here, you have the Aces here. You got F1 coming very soon. And All-Star Weekend has been here a few times. You got the NBA Summer League that’s very popular. Sports is here. And I think adding an NBA franchise here would just add to the momentum that’s going on in this town.

But James is not just content to push for the league to add an expansion franchise in Sin City, a topic that is being discussed as more of an inevitability.

“I think it’s only a matter of time,” James said. “And I hope I’m part of that time.”

That could mean any number of things from playing as a visitor to being a partial owner in retirement with the future for expansion still up in the air. But the more prominent voices that support expansion, the better for those that want to see it through.