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The Lakers’ passing game has hit the ground running

LeBron James and Rajon Rondo have the 2018-19 Lakers poised to be the franchise’s best passing team in years.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James outlets to Rajon Rondo. Rondo probes before throwing a skip pass to Josh Hart on the wing, who makes a quick touch pass to Kyle Kuzma in the dunker’s spot. Kuzma attacks the rim and skips it back over to Rondo after the defense collapses. Rondo declines the open three, takes two dribbles, and then fires a left-handed pass to LeBron James in the opposite dunker’s spot. LeBron shot fakes and then kicks the ball out to Kuzma at the top of the key. Kuzma shot fakes, rips through and attacks the closeout, taking one dribble before swinging it to Josh Hart. Hart shot fakes and attacks the closeout, skipping the ball to Brandon Ingram in the opposite corner, where his 3-point attempted is blocked out of bounds.

Eight passes. Four good-to-great looks turned down to get a better one.

They didn’t even score on the play, but that possession against the Denver Nuggets in the Lakers’ second preseason game was indicative of a new culture of ball movement that is permeating the team. Let’s take a closer look at this very entertaining brand of offensive basketball.

LeBron and Rondo have spearheaded this stylistic evolution of the team. Rondo has demonstrated his mastery of delivering pocket passes on pick and rolls and getting into the creases of the defense to find cutters. LeBron distributes from triple threat positions in the middle of the court and has already identified a favorite target in Ingram. Both seek out rim runners and hit aheads in transition.

“Passing is contagious” is one of the oldest basketball idioms for a reason, and there’s been a noticeable uptick in how both Ingram and Kuzma’s approach in this respect, frequently declining good shots in favor of great ones. If that continues, the Lakers should have one of the best offenses in the NBA and Lonzo Ball hasn’t even been thrown into the mix yet.

Now THIS is going to be FUN. Wait...no!!!