The Los Angeles Lakers already played at a frenetic pace last year. They finished the season almost tied for the second-fastest pace in the league and, according to just about everyone associated with the franchise, are getting ready to play even faster.
LeBron James kicked the theme off during his press conference at media day Monday afternoon.
“My game does not change no matter who I’m alongside,” James said. “I believe my game can fit with anybody. I’m a team-first guy. I love passing the ball, I love sharing the ball. And then watching these guys from the outside looking in, the level of pace that they play with I’m excited about.”
It’s interesting to hear James talk about his game fitting with others and not the other way around, as has been bandied about ad nauseam across social media throughout the offseason.
“I love getting up and down and running, and things of that nature. But Luke (Walton) and the coaching staff will let us know what they like for us and how to be great, and we have to practice that,” James said. “We have to implement it every single day in order to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
It turns out Walton is of a similar mind to James.
“We’re gonna play fast,” Walton said. “Whether it’s the same speed (as last season), faster, slower, we’ll get to know our team as training camp goes.
“We have a very deep team, we have a lot of guys who can push the ball. We want to attack. We think a big strength of ours this year will be our depth and the amount of guys that we can throw at you. When you have that type of team, it’s a big advantage to push it down and make other teams play more possessions and play at a faster pace.”
Walton’s point about depth is important to keep in mind, and was echoed by Lonzo Ball.
“We’ll always have multiple playmakers on the court, so whoever gets the ball in transition on the rebound, we can get out in transition a lot faster than other teams. So once we get it just go, and whoever gets it can push it. That’s going to help us a lot.”
More exciting than even the notion of the Lakers somehow playing faster than they did last year is that the should be more efficient in those situations than they were a year ago. James is one of the best players in transition the game has ever seen, and Rajon Rondo was incredibly efficient in that department last year. Plus, younger players like Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are going to get better through natural development.
Another factor to keep an eye on: The NBA’s new clear path rules. The league wants to incentivize more fast break play, so either the Lakers will be given more opportunities as guys won’t be fouling in the backcourt, or they’ll take a free point and get the ball back for a half-court possession.
In theory, all these factors should come together to make the Lakers a more dangerous team during the regular season. The depth Walton and Ball alluded to will mean the Lakers can go at teams in waves and maintain their high effort throughout the game (In theory, at least).
Can these games start already?