The Los Angeles Lakers nearly walked away with a win against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, but they couldn’t get the potential game winner up before the shot clock expired due to a bad case of overpassing.
In most instances, sharing the ball is a good thing, but LeBron James thought the Lakers were almost being overly generous with the rock on Tuesday.
“We were a little too unselfish, but that’s good for us right now as we continue to learn one another,” James told reporters after the game. “We want to make the extra pass, go from a good shot to a great shot.
“It’s going to be good for our team in the long run. As we continue to figure each other out and go through what we want to do to get better, moving the ball and sharing the ball is key.”
Head coach Luke Walton shared a similar sentiment after the game, saying he thought the Lakers were playing a joke on him with how much they were moving the ball.
“We want to be selfless, but there was a few possessions from both units, I thought they were messing with me they passed so many times. A lot of them had open shots, but in the preseason I’ll 100 percent take [overpassing],” Walton said.
Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma took a more “glass half full” approach when talking about how unselfish the team played.
"I think we were really, really unselfish tonight. I think we did a great job moving that ball and playing defense down the stretch of that first half."- Kyle Kuzma— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 3, 2018
"That's a fun way to play. That's a fun way to play when you're trying to find the open shot for the team. That's a fun way to play"- Ingram on the Lakers' ball movement (via @SpectrumSN)— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 3, 2018
Partially in part because of the breakneck speed they want to play with, the Lakers have averaged 27 assists per games through two preseason contests, an average that would have ranked third in the league last season, according to NBA.com. So their unselfishness is backed up by metrics as well as the team’s eye test.
And with gifted playmakers like Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo and LeBron James, who were all among the top-10 assists leaders in the NBA last season, this was to be expected, and the Lakers should have no problem with ball movement this year. However, in order for those passes to mean anything, someone on the roster is going to have to put the ball in the basket. So far, JaVale McGee has been their most reliable option in that respect.
That should change, though, as the Lakers integrate Ball back into the lineup and James settles into a more off-ball role. Having a true point guard in the second unit should also help open things up for players like Kuzma and Josh Hart or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as well.
Sure, it might have been frustrating to watch the Lakers pass up shots, but if the biggest complaint from a team that has spent less than a week together after two games is that they pass too much, they’re in good shape.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.