Luke Walton is seen by peers and players alike as one of the best communicators in the NBA. Since his time as a player, his basketball mind has been something teammates and his coaches pointed to as a reason for why he might eventually make a good coach.
So when he compliments LeBron James and his ability to communicate, he’s speaking from his own experience.
“I’ve always heard what his basketball IQ was like, but in the short time I’ve spent with him, it’s off the charts,” Walton told reporters after a shootaround last week. “It’s really impressive what a student of the game he is, and the way he sees the game and can communicate that to his teammates.”
Given how much around James is new, his communication skills are going to be put to the test, not just in terms of new teammates, but also the background from which they’re coming. James has fellow veterans to help spread the message, but there just isn’t much in common between him and younger guys who most need to learn from him.
Brandon Ingram, whom James seems most interested in mentoring, is more than a decade younger than the man he’s hoping to learn from. Think about how tough it can be to relate to someone that much older or younger than you. Staying patient enough to relay that basketball knowledge is going to be a task in and of itself.
Even outside of James, the Lakers might actually have one of the smartest rosters in the league overall. We’ve already mentioned LeBron, who is basically a high-powered computer, but Rajon Rondo is widely seen as one of the NBA’s smartest players, Lonzo Ball has shown tremendous instincts to this point in his young career, and Ingram has the mind and skills that might allow him to learn from James.
Given how much learning is going to have to be done on the fly, the Lakers will take all the IQ points they can get.