LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Luke Walton? Get ready for Showtime 2.0!
From the moment LaVar Ball tried to speak it into existence, LeBron James and Lonzo Ball seemed to be destined to play together for the Lakers in Luke Walton’s rebooted version of Magic Johnson and James Worthy’s Showtime.
After a year of crisscrossing paths, beginning with LeBron watching Lonzo wow the Summer League a year ago and including their one head-to-head matchup where LeBron’s triple-double trumped Lonzo’s near triple-double, the hoped for pairing of the greatest closer in the history of the game and the league’s next great point guard finally became a reality as LeBron signed a 4-year $153 million contract to play with Lonzo on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Even more importantly, the Lakers, who played at one of the fastest paces in the NBA last year, have no plans to slow down even with 33-year old LeBron James on the roster and a game plan that focuses on toughness and defense. Instead, they’re doubling down on wanting to play even faster, believing the addition of LeBron and improved team toughness and defense can enable the Lakers to play even faster and be more efficient in transition than last year.
The architect of the Lakers’ blistering transition offense is Luke Walton, who wants the Lakers to play fast like the Warriors, but the young hoops savant who makes work is the Lakers’ 20-year old rookie point guard prodigy Lonzo Ball, whose selfless style of play and relentless pushing of pace have already elevated the Lakers’ transition game and imprinted themselves on the team’s identity. The Lakers want to play fast. They consider that part of their DNA.
So just how good a transition team could the LeBron and Lonzo Lakers be? Last year, the Lakers played at the third fastest pace and created the most transition possessions and scored the most transition points in the league. Unfortunately, they only ranked 22 of 30 NBA teams in transition scoring efficiency. In other words, the Lakers were among the best in the league in creating transition opportunities but among the worst in converting them.
LeBron joining the Lakers is going to change all that. He’ll not only give the Lakers more opportunities to run but also dramatically improve how they finish those opportunities. No player on the planet is more unstoppable in transition than LeBron James. His unique combination of transcendent playmaking and ability to finish is going to turbo charge what’s an already impressive Lakers’ transition game. It’s going to be Showtime on steroids.
“The construction of the Lakers’ roster provides James with the opportunity to be even more devastating in transition, with a multitude of ball-handlers [who] can get him the ball with a head of steam, while filling the wing, or as a trailer. The marriage of the Lakers’ frenetic pace with his individual prowess in transition could lead to a degree of efficiency from LeBron that we haven’t seen before.”
To get the full picture of what a monster game changer LeBron could be in transition and how his presence could potentially transform the Lakers’ transition game into Showtime 2.0, watch Pete’s great YouTube video:
Pete does a great job showing just how unstoppable LeBron is in transition both on the ball and off the ball. Everybody’s so consumed right now with the reasons why LeBron and Lonzo and the young Lakers aren’t a good fit they’re missing the big picture, which is LeBron is exactly what Lonzo and this young Lakers team needs to elevate their transition game to Showtime level while they’re exactly what LeBron needs to elevate his legacy to the greatest ever.
Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain. LeBron has embraced Lakers mystique and accepted the challenge of leading the franchise back to relevancy and championship contention. Don’t kid yourself, LeBron chose the Lakers for basketball reasons. Like Rich Paul said, he wanted to do what he wanted to do, which was follow KD’s lead and go play where he can have fun.
I look back to that very first time LeBron’s and Lonzo’s paths crossed, almost exactly one year ago at the Las Vegas Summer league and I think that’s where the seed was planted that Magic Johnson harvested in the form of LeBron signing an unprecedented four-year long term contract to join the Lakers. I think LeBron had a vision that day that slowly coalesced to his decision to finish his career playing in L.A. with young Lonzo Ball and the Baby Lakers.
LaVar Ball may be the crazy like a fox but his vision for pairing the greatest closer in the history of the game with league’s next great point guard is a championship strategy that the Los Angeles Lakers are about to deploy.
Get ready for LeBron, Lonzo, and Showtime 2.0!