Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been called out by an NBA executive.
Heavy.com insider Sean Deveney spoke to an anonymous Western Conference executive who was critical of James and Davis, the two leaders of the Lakers.
“The thing that has them worried is it looks like they do not care,” the exec told Deveney. “Even LeBron, even Anthony Davis, watching them during these games, I don’t see the buy-in. It’s a lot of frustration and head-shaking, hands on the hips, all of that. A week into the season. You saw that last year, too. They were a miserable team and that has carried right over to this year. They’re not getting loose balls. They’re not contesting jumpers. The things you have to do every possession. Darvin Ham has not changed that. Patrick Beverley has not changed that. Only LeBron and AD, especially LeBron, can change that and they’re not doing it.”
The Lakers have started the season 0-3. They have the league’s 30th-ranked offense and are shooting only 21.2% from beyond the arc as a team. James and Davis are both putting up stellar numbers, but the exec who talked to Deveney doesn’t like the body language the two Los Angeles stars have shown.
NBA Exec: I Feel Bad for Darvin Ham
The exec suggested to Deveney that the Lakers have set up new head coach Darvin Ham to fail. The roster around James and Davis just isn’t good enough to compete in the rugged Western Conference.
“I feel bad for Darvin because this is not the job you want for the first time on the sideline,” the exec told Deveney. “This is not the rookie job you want to start with. You see him getting them to run out in transition, they get into transition just about as much as any team in the league (No. 2) and they are by far the worst team at finishing in transition. But Darvin’s only other option is to slow it down and give it to LeBron in the halfcourt, but they can’t shoot. They have no shooters on the floor so the halfcourt offense is terrible, too. Darvin is set up to fail with this team.”
The Lakers do have the second-best defensive rating through three games, allowing only 103.4 points per 100 possessions. The purple and gold are first in steals per 100 possessions and 11th in blocks per 100 possessions and opponents are turning the ball over on 18.7% of their possessions against the Lakers. Los Angeles is also allowing the fewest points in the paint per 100 possessions and the ninth-fewest second-chance points per 100 possessions, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
“There’s room for improvement,” Ham said at practice on October 25th. “But for the most part, I think guys have stepped up to the challenge. Our three principles – contain, contest and control – and I’ve been totally thrilled with the way we’ve tried to contain the ball, keep the ball in front of us. The way we’ve contested, not just on the ball or chasing over the top of pick and rolls, but multiple contests – even guys who have shifted off the ball getting a hand up there. And then our shifts in activity, still gotta see room for improvement as well on the defensive glass. I just like our activity. I think we’re (two in defensive rating). I would like for us to be No. 1. So we have goals that we want to work toward of being the best defensive team in the league.”
The Lakers are so putrid on offense that their stout defense hasn’t been able to help them get wins. Everyone on the team is struggling to shoot 3-pointers, especially James and Davis. LeBron is shooting 25.9% from beyond the arc, while Davis is shooting 20.0%.
Lakers Could Trade LeBron & Davis Next Summer
If the Lakers don’t make the playoffs this season, James and Davis could be traded during the summer of 2023. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports believes Los Angeles should enter a full rebuild sooner rather than later.
“I think they should just say, ‘You know what? From an extreme case, trade AD, trade LeBron, trade Russ if you can. Start all over,’” Goodwill said on October 24th. “Because what you have is not sustainable, even in this season. By ‘sustainable,’ I mean — even if you get Buddy Hield and Myles Turner — that makes you, what, a sixth seed in the Western Conference? That’s not Laker expectations. That’s not LeBron James expectations. There’s no path to get better. So why not just tear it down?”
James signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers in August. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP can’t be traded until February 18, 2023. Davis, meanwhile, doesn’t have a trade restriction.