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Laker Film Room: How LeBron James Changes the Lakers, Part 1 - Transition

The newest Lakers superstar may be the best open court player in history, and hasn’t slowed down one bit

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The ink is finally dry on LeBron James’ historic 4-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, altering the course of the franchise and the league as a whole. James’ arrival will change the team in many ways, and the first part of my series on how he’ll do so focuses on his domination in the transition game.

LeBron’s volume and efficiency in the open court are staggering. He generated 1.55 Points Per Possession between his possessions used and assists in the 2017-18 season, ranking in the 88th percentile on 628 possessions. In simpler terms, he generated nearly 12 points per game in transition alone.

Let’s take a closer look at how he did it.

The construction of the Lakers’ roster provides James with the opportunity to be even more devastating in transition, with a multitude of ball-handlers can get him the ball with a head of steam, while filling the wing, or as a trailer. His previous teams have relied upon him to be the de facto point guard in the open court - where he’s also dominant - but those are more difficult possessions because the defense naturally focuses their attention on whoever has the ball while matching up.

As Rob Pelinka noted during Wednesday’s press conference, the Lakers still intend to play fast even though LeBron has never played on a team that finished in the Top 10 in pace before. The marriage of the Lakers’ frenetic pace with his individual prowess in transition could lead to a degree of efficiency from LeBron that we haven’t seen before.

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