LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers is a seismic shift in Southern California, the type of earth-shattering move that sometimes sees young players like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart wilt.
When the news broke, however, those three couldn’t have seemed further from being worried about any extra pressure James’ arrival could bring:
Y’all really thought he was gonna pass up the greatest city in the world... #TheKingIsHere— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) July 2, 2018
The SHOW is back— Josh Hart (@joshhart) July 2, 2018
LAKESHOWWWW. @KingJames let’s go my brotha let’s rock— kuz (@kylekuzma) July 2, 2018
July 2, 2018
It’s a good thing those three are excited now, because playing with James will make their lives easier in some ways and far more difficult in others. Lonzo comes the closest, but none of those players have ever come near what it’s like to be performing under the intense level of pressure or scrutiny that comes from playing alongside James.
Being James’ teammate is a unique experience. As one of the most selfless superstars to ever play the game, he in a lot of ways makes things more simple for his teammates by sucking in defenses and allowing them to attack scrambling defenders.
On the other hand, however, playing with James isn’t for the faint of heart. Players have to make decisions more quickly than they ever have or risk losing the advantage James has created. They also have to can their open shots, lest The King lose faith in one of his subjects.
The other way things are going to change for Kuzma, Ball and Hart is that they will be scrutinized like never before, getting all the blame when the Lakers lose and simultaneously getting none of the credit when they win. However, they will also likely have far more success than they’ve ever had on a basketball court.
That’s just life playing with LeBron, and it’s a tradeoff not every player is prepared for. Only time will tell if Ball, Hart and Kuzma have what it takes to last in James’ kingdom, but being happy about the opportunity is a great place to start.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.