Channing Frye has been around the NBA long enough to get a good sense for what it takes for teams or players to be successful. So, when he drops the kind of compliment he did recently when discussing the Los Angeles Lakers’ young core, you listen. He’s a fan.
Frye sat down with Erik Gunderson of USA Today’s LeBron Wire for a Q&A and wasn’t bashful with his praise.
I’ll tell you this: they’re arguably the most talented group in the NBA. And I mean talented in terms of experience, years playing in the Western Conference and they’re overall position.
The NBA is in an incredible place in terms of how much young talent is strewn across several teams, so that Frye would have this high of praise for guys like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and the rest of the young Lakers is pretty noteworthy.
That praise becomes all the more interesting when you consider Frye faced off against the Boston Celtics (who boast Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) in the playoffs last year and the Philadelphia 76ers (Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid) multiple times in the regular season.
We can litigate and debate the various young cores across the NBA, but the fact that Frye is willing to — at the very least — group them in with some of the best out there is pretty outstanding. That the aforementioned collection of young talent now gets to play alongside and learn from LeBron James is legitimately painful to wait for.
Speaking of LeBron, Frye gave his thoughts on how that dynamic between James and the young core might play out.
I think the thing they’re going to come to and I think a lot of guys are going to have to deal with this. There’s who you expect to be and then who you are when you play with LeBron. It’s two different things. I don’t know if they truly understand what it’s like to play with him because there is no room for mistakes. Because in all actuality, he could do it himself. He could lead a team to 40 wins by himself. I think for all of them they’re going to have to have a reality check, not only them but the people around them. There’s going to say, not a growing period, but a humility.
This going to be fascinating to watch. When Ball was on the court last year, he had freedom to figure things out on the fly. Ingram has been given all much too much responsibility over the time he’s been a Laker. Kuzma was seen as something of a go-to scorer as a rookie. All those things are going to change with James on the court.
How those guys respond to that new reality is going to be as interesting to watch as it will be crucial for the Lakers’ success.