In a move that shifted the power structure of the NBA for years to come, the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to terms with LeBron James on a 4-year, $154M deal on the first day of free agency. The Lakers now have their superstar.
A player of James’ caliber comes with a great deal of gravity — the ability to draw the attention of the entire opposing defense.
James is like a black hole, but not in the negative way that term is usually used to denigrate players. Rather than the ball getting sucked into James’ hands to die, it’s defenders who are vacuumed into his orbit with fatal consequences.
But unlike shooters like Klay Thompson whose gravity only works one way, James godlike skills on the court extend to controlling his own gravity as well, as it sometimes flips the opposite way, repelling players either because they don’t want to get steamrolled by James in transition or they don’t want him to shred their defense by finding open shooters.
Let’s take a closer look:
How the Lakers’ leverage James’ gravity will be one of the most fascinating tests for the team this year. Will they use more pin screens for shooters? Will they try to leverage him more in transition, pushing him to play in an offense with a top-10 pace in the league, something he has never done?
We won’t know for sure until the season draws closer and we get a look at the Lakers in the preseason, but how the Lakers utilize James’ gravity will surely suck in a ton of our — and the rest of the league’s — attention next year.