2018 free agency begins on Saturday night at 9:00 pm PST, and what LeBron James will do for the Decision 3.0 looms over the entire league, as it always does every four years.
The Lakers have been jilted and rejected in each of their free agent pursuits since the last time this happened, having the good fortune of missing out on Dwight Howard in 2013 and Carmelo Anthony in 2014, while not being a viable option for Kevin Durant in 2016.
This year may be no different, but the perception certainly is, with the Lakers as the odds-on favorite to land LeBron within the next couple of weeks. I can’t help but wonder what that might look like, despite not knowing who will be on the roster once the dust settles on the Kawhi Leonard situation.
Lonzo Ball is relatively safe if reports the San Antonio Spurs not being particularly enamored with the histrionics that surround him are to true. That begs the question...how would he and LeBron fit together?
Let’s take a closer look.
On its surface, it would appear that they could get in each other’s way, with LeBron playing the de facto point guard role for each of his 15 seasons, and Lonzo being the prized “pure point guard” drafted just one year ago. But Lonzo’s greatest strengths in the half court offense are off of the ball, just as they were when he was at UCLA, and LeBron’s presence would push him into that more natural role.
Lonzo can help LeBron as well, replacing Kevin Love as the outlet passer who hits him in stride as he seals a helpless defender on a leak out while wreaking havoc on the defensive end and reducing LeBron’s transition burden.
The duo wouldn’t hit their potential without improvement from Lonzo as a spot-up shooter though, where he made just 32.8% of his 3-point attempts last season in catch & shoot situations. He isn’t so far away that he’s a lost cause, but he needs to take a leap forward in this aspect of his game to take advantage of the open attempts that LeBron would inevitably create.
Lonzo is already one of the smartest players in the game, despite his age, just as LeBron has been for the last decade and a half. High-IQ players typically thrive and adapt to each other’s games, and I expect that a LeBron and Lonzo pairing would be no different.
And maybe this time, the very idea of it isn’t just another summer fantasy.