The REAL Problem With LeBron & The Lakers In The NBA Restart (Ft. JR Smith, Age, And Bad Shots)
LeBron James & the Lakers changed coming into the NBA restart and they have a big problem. #LeBron #NBA #Lakers Twitch- www.twitch.tv/mjallday2k
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With a 4 month break, that means everyone has to get into shape again in a time where there’s less margin. LeBron falls under that category too. Actually LeBron’s past couple of seasons have followed a cyclical pattern.
I went back all the way to the 2012-2013, calculated all the monthly offensive and defensive ratings for each month for 8 seasons, averaged them, and here’s the chart. Looking at the chart, LeBron actually gets better as the season goes along, sort of peaking in April. This is not true for every player. Looking at Kevin Durant for the past 4 seasons, his trend is sorta all over the place, not necessarily mainly upwards.
The reason why I looked into it is because LeBron is perhaps the most meticulous player when it comes to physical conditioning preparation, spending $1.5M per year to take care of his body, so he’s timing his peak shape in May. Playoff LeBron is real. And with a 4 month break, that all ruins the timeline. This is actually the same break between the finals and the first day of the regular season. Urgency will speed up the process, but if we look at all of his trends, it points to LeBron having to work his way up to that level.. Anthony Davis on the other hand is 27 in his prime years and I think that he’ll be able to produce despite a 4 month break. Plus he’s 100% healthy which isn’t always the case so this might be his time.
Avery Bradley and Danny Green are the two guards that are the glue to the perimeter defense. The Lakers had the third best defensive rating overall. It’s a team oriented defense that relies on physicality and size. Now obviously, a player like Anthony Davis who is a defensive player of the year candidate and Dwight Howard helps out with that a lot, but looking at 3 point defense, the Lakers held their opponents to the 4th lowest 3 point percentage in the league. And it’s because Avery Bradley made ball handlers uncomfortable, not like Patrick Beverley who just ends up fouling, that’s jail ball defense. Bradley will pick up ball handlers full court. With a 6’ 7” wingspan at a 6’2” height , Bradley can move quickly but still impact taller players. This means that he is able to stay with point guards on the perimeter and make dribbling a chore. Couple that with his ability to fight through screens with ease and he’s contesting guards on the perimeter. Bradley takes pride on that end and is relentless in his pursuit whether that is for loose balls or in off ball denial.
I’d actually prefer Caruso to take Bradley’s minutes. He’s the GOAT aite. On a real though, Caruso has been part of some of the Lakers best lineups. He has a net rating of 10.3 which is tied with LeBron. He’s actually the most positive plus minus of plus 20.3 out of all teammates sharing the court with LeBron. Just looking at the games, Caruso simply just works with Bron and doesn’t play out of his role. He spaces the floor and is just in the right spots for LeBron to get enough space yet still use him in tight spots.
This Lakers squad needs some knockdown catch and shoot 3 point specialists, they are 22 in 3 pointers made per game and 17th in 3 point %. In the playoffs, JR fulfills that role. In the last 4 playoffs he was a part of, he’s shot 40.6% from 3 on 6.2 3s a game and he’s proven to hit some clutch shots. And then add to the fact that JR Smith and LeBron have played with each other for years and you add a capable weapon in the hands of LeBron who knows where to be on the court to best add to the Bron-AD duo. JR shot 54% from the corner 3 in the past 3 postseasons.
Dion Waiters on the other hand is, well, outta place. I understand that the Lakers chose Dion because they wanted to add a shot creator, but they already have Kuzma who is their inefficient shot creating chucker that is streaky. Realistically, Dion is gonna be the second unit scorer, but with LeBron and AD, if their minutes are staggered properly, they’ll be the focal point of the offense. Waiters has been awkward in those situations. It’s as if he needs to be the primary ball handler shooting a bunch of shots. Like his best season, he shot 43% from the field. Waiters hasn’t really shown any defensive capabilities. And I mean no defensive capabilities.
Like I said, it really depends on LeBron and AD, and those two are raring to go.