After missing the past eight games, LeBron James (abdominal strain) is official listed as problematic give Los Angeles Lakers national televised game against the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Have your popcorn ready.
LeBron James is still up against Milwaukee but is teaming up with Phil Handy. This will be the eighth game in a row James has missed since November 2 pic.twitter.com/NZ88L33lD6
– Bill Oram (@billoram) November 17, 2021
Los Angeles are dominating 8-8 through 16 games – 10 of which LeBron has missed. Understandably, the retooled Lakers have struggled to find consistency and alignment without their main dispatcher, among other absences.
However, the Lakers are trailing 4-6 without James, including some avoidable losses. They are nearly 8.0 points out of 100 in possession with him off the floor. The acquisition of Russell Westbrook is supposed to help in that regard.
In six appearances, the soon-to-be 37-year-old LeBron has averaged 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game – relatively modest numbers for him. He is making more long jumps and fewer free throws than ever before. On the other hand, he was clearly locked in defense early on, and the impact of his physicality, IQ, and sheer presence was immeasurable.
Simply put: the Lakers are not the Lakers without him, like Anthony Davis note after Wednesday’s tough loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers can’t really gauge their progress until LeBron has played for a long period of the game.
“We’ve formed a group together and we haven’t seen it yet,” AD speak. “We still have guys who are capable of winning basketball games for us. … Once we get everyone back we can see, to be honest. Until then, we can keep fighting with what we have.”
Sure, the Lakers are hoping LeBron’s return kicks off their campaign. But, his inclusion in the starting lineup doesn’t automatically solve all problems – and it can’t erase the unfortunate losses to Oklahoma City (twice) and Minnesota.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as the King regains his court:
The Lakers have been playing small in recent games, starting AD in 5th. This is particularly beneficial for Westbrook, as evidenced by his ideal performance compared to Milwaukee.
“I really think we really benefit from offensive space,” said Frank Vogel after the game on Wednesday. “We had a lot of great looks from the 3-pointer line. I think Russell Westbrook had his best game as the Laker tonight. 15 assists and three redirects. Obviously, he’s benefiting from that space, and so is AD. … Lots of positives. ”
With LeBron’s return, Vogel can adjust the lineup and separate his two star dribblers for multiple games. But both will start and end, and Westbrook-LeBron’s fit in those minutes will ultimately determine whether the Lakers can win the title.
We’ve only seen them together in six games. They start find a trench towards the end of that stretch before James was on the injury list. For example, Westbrook is much more aggressive – screening, cut – when he plays next to LeBron.
Without James running the show, Westbrook was careless late in the game. Of course, LeBron was one of the decision makers at the most difficult time in NBA history. Overall, James’ return should stabilize their performance late in the game.
LeBron’s presence helps the Lakers always have a star on the field. In the Bucks loss, Vogel unleashed a flurry of forwards Rajon Rondo, Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore (who had a nightmare season), and DeAndre Jordan in a crucial stretch of the second half as Giannis Antetokounmpo was resting. . Presumably, Vogel thinks the Lakers reserve unit can take on the Bucks’ B team while Russ and AD get hit.
That was a miscalculation. That squad missed out on a series of three key players and the Lakers missed their chance to take the lead. With LeBron back, Vogel shouldn’t be in this predicament.
The most pressing question about LeBron’s return may be its impact on Talen Horton-Tucker.
THT has been a bright spot for the Lakers during a dull week. He dropped 17 points in the return match against San Antonio Spurs. The next day, he led Los Angeles with a career-high 28 points. He followed with 25 people in Milwaukee. The 20-year-old hit the belt with a unique combination of renunciation and grace, adding a fresh breath of youth and sportiness, at both ends. He’s pulled 40% of his triples and has excelled defensively.
Talen Horton-Tucker. pic.twitter.com/g2kED1QEu9
– Lakers Legacy (@LakersLegacyPod) November 16, 2021
In a slight surprise, Vogel started THT in all three games. On Wednesday, he praised Horton-Tucker but did not commit to the starting lineup when LeBron returned.
“I haven’t made any decisions yet on what it will look like in the end,” Vogel said. “Sometimes, scoring from the bench is just what you need. But he plays as well as anyone from the point of view of both sides of the ball; what he gives us in defense and what he gives us in attack. He was excellent in the first few games back. He’s going to have a big role but he’s definitely made it.”
Horton-Tucker may be too good to come on from the bench, although he is another dominant player alongside Russ and LeBron. However, if he does and does 3 seconds, then distance won’t matter anymore. The Lakers had an instant offensive behavior creator in the role of Sixth Man: Carmelo Anthony. (Rebuttal: Anthony has cooled down a bit, Malik Monk is unreliable, and Kendrick Nunn is still out with a bruise on his knee.)
The most important Talen Horton-Tucker shot last night:
Catch – & – Shoot 3pointer
He clearly worked on his shot, but a lot of his 3pt was of the Harden-esque type, backstepping, no dribbling.
When LeBron comes back, he’ll need to shoot *this* even more. pic.twitter.com/u82XWW2Oyz
– Lakers Legacy (@LakersLegacyPod) November 18, 2021
“It doesn’t matter what role he plays, whether he starts or comes on from the bench, we need his energy,” Anthony Davis said of THT. “The way he is playing, he has to keep that mindset. He’s coming in, he’s shooting well, he’s reading right, he’s doing great things for us in defence. However, we don’t want that to slow down or go away when we have a guy back or his role changes. “
If Horton-Tucker continues to make significant strides in his third season, the LeBron-THT fit could be almost as important as how Russ and LeBron connect.
So: Can LeBron James Solve All Of The Lakers’ Problems? Of course not. For one, he is part of a general health and age concern, not an exception. Also, there are legitimate questions about the squad: Can they defend the wings and hit 3s continuously? What happens when longtime veterans are removed from rotation? What if Westbrook can’t assimilate?
With LeBron’s shoulders so wide, it’s not fair to expect him to fix things.
Despite that, the Lakers didn’t win anything meaningful without LeBron, and they couldn’t really uncover the identity unless he was hooping. His return was more than welcome: it was a new beginning.
https://clutchpoints.com/does-lebron-james-solve-all-the-lakers-problems/ Will LeBron James Solve All The Lakers’ Problems?