LeBron James has spent his career drawing the attention of help defenders. Numerous shooters and big men have capitalized on that spotlight, but few have compounded those advantages the way that Lonzo Ball has been while playing alongside James this season.
“The ball moves faster than any player” is a time-honored basketball idiom, and for good reason. Moments of advantage are fleeting in the NBA, but consecutive, decisive passes at a high velocity will break most defenses, and that’s where Lonzo has begun to enhance LeBron’s playmaking ability, and vice versa. Let’s take a closer look:
LeBron James and Lonzo Ball are using their increasingly telepathic connection to set teammates up with hockey assists. @LakerFilmRoom rounded up the best of them.https://t.co/x1LIePX5nT pic.twitter.com/vafSErs0xS— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) December 21, 2018
LeBron sees Lonzo as a kindred spirit in this respect.
“We’re one and the same when it comes to our playmaking ability. We’re always looking for our teammates and that’s the greatest satisfaction we can have when we see our teammates score the ball,” James told reporters recently.
The Lakers often use Lonzo and LeBron to set ball screens for each other because it allows an elite playmaker to make a decision regardless of how the defense tries to stop it. If Lonzo can continue to progress as a scorer, those 1-3 pick and rolls could become the Lakers’ go-to play in crunch-time, similar to how Cleveland used LeBron and Kyrie Irving in similar situations. Lonzo will never be the scorer that Irving is, but Lonzo’s playmaking advantage can make up for that.
The Lakers are in a season-long process of figuring out what — and who — works next to LeBron. Increasing synergy like this between Ball and James may make those evaluations easier.
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