LeBron James has, over the course of his career, made teammates around him better in ways the vast majority of players in the NBA can only dream of. So far this preseason, it’s been no different, and his teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers have sung his praises as a result.
After the Lakers beat the Warriors soundly on Wednesday, Jared Dudley recalled a specific play that had him marveling at James’ ability to get teammates — and shooters especially — the ball in a timely matter.
“Avery (Bradley), one time he caught the ball low, he had a chance to get the Spaldings right he had so much time. I haven’t had that since back in the day when I had Nash and his advanced passing. And LeBron is right there,” Dudley said.
Dudley was then asked how best James’ teammates can optimize the effects of his passing ability.
”Spacing. Give enough spacing to where if they double, make them pay,” the 34-year-old forward said. “Avery and Danny (Green) did that today. To know when to cut, it’s all about timing because LeBron sometimes will pull up and sometimes he’ll attack and they’ll come weakside. So even though you think the angle of where you are on the corner wing that he doesn’t see you, as you saw one time he threw the ball behind his head. He sees everything. So my whole thing is getting your feet ready, being confident, but just knowing when to space, when to cut through, and that’s just trying to figure him out. And a lot of times Bron will tell you. He’ll tell you in practice.”
James was asked about his own passing after that game, too, and it seems he wants his own unselfishness to spread as a culture across the roster.
“We’re moving the ball, sharing the ball and it doesn’t matter who has the shot. We want to pass up sometimes great shots for even greater shots,” James said.
“It’s my job to put guys in a position to push the pace and get guys open looks. Get AD the ball where he wants it, and then find my shooters like AB and DG. It worked well for us tonight.”
Frank Vogel, who had further thoughts on the team’s passing abilities that echoed James’ sentiment, sounded pretty thrilled about what James brings to the table does for the ease of his own job.
“He’s one of the best ever do it, in terms of just running the team and being a quarterback, calling the action out there and then, like we just said about Anthony, his ability to read help is maybe the best ever. Wherever the help is coming from he’s able to just to identify and find and deliver the ball right on target at time and time again,” Vogel said.
Speaking of Davis, he also has noticed the effect playing with James has on his and everyone else on the roster.
“He makes everybody better. He draws a lot of attention. We get a lot of shots, guys making the right place so it’s going to be like that all year. The more and more he draws a crowd, the more open shots we want to get and we have enough guys and enough shooters where they can make plays from that,” Davis said.
This isn’t all to make it seem like James is singlehandedly responsible for everything good that happens on offense. Guys still have to make shots, and the more consistently they do, they better James can be at his job. It makes for a fun, symbiotic relationship that, when carried out at its optimal levels, can lead to championship-type success.
With the Lakers kicking off their season in just over 24 hours or so, the sooner they can all get on the same page, the higher the likelihood becomes that James and his teammates can lift the Lakers organization to the place its fan base demands it consistently remains.