5 Things we learned from LeBron James' first Lakers game
The Lakers' 2018-19 campaign is finally off and running as they played their first preseason game today, losing 124-107 to the Denver Nuggets. It was a game filled with enough sloppy play to command a Shaqtin-a-Fool compilation of its own, but there were a few clear signs that onlookers can take to the bank and brood over as the Lakers get into gear for regular season play.
The preseason campaign in the NBA can be misleading. Success or failure here isn’t always a good predictor of what will happen in the regular season. Minutes are distributed differently nd coaches feel empowered to experiment with their lineups in order to gauge who fits best against specific opponents.
Luke Walton certainly used the opportunity to the fullest, and our first glimpse at the new-look Lakers did provide plenty to take away. The sample size is ridiculously small so take everything with a grain of salt, but here’s what we learned on Sunday night.
#1 The King will pick up where he left off last season
LeBron, aged 33 right now and due to turn 34 before the turn of the calendar, is pretty much the same player that he was this past summer. He barely played 15 minutes today, but what we saw was a typical LeBron show when he got the ball.
Easily the best player on the planet today, James spent most of his time off the ball, resulting in a flowing Lakers offense that managed to get every player on the floor involved in the absence of a dominant ball-hoarder. When he did get the ball, James made the kind of plays we've now come to expect of him, dishing to cutters and able to find the open man on set plays.
He didn't try to score much, but the moves he did put on the court made it amply clear that he's still exploring his peak years. Come regular season, expect him to flirt with a 30 point scoring average in addition to increased rebounding numbers.