After months of daydreaming through the offseason and weeks of teasing footage from practice during training camp, Lakers fans finally got their first look at the team’s new Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook on Tuesday.
Though the team remained winless, falling to a Golden State side without Steph Curry and Draymond Green by a final of 111-99, there were just enough glimpses of what could be with the Lakers moving forward to keep the excitement high in the final week of the preseason.
“There were some good spurts but obviously it’s the first game,” Westbrook said. “Some good things we can take from it, watching film and figuring out space and timing, the whole nine. We can be a little encouraged by it.”
As the team ramps up toward next week’s regular season opener against the very same Warriors, James, Davis and Westbrook have begun ramping up as well. James played in just his second preseason game on Tuesday with him and Westbrook playing 26 and 28 minutes, respectively. Davis, who has been by far the most active on the court this preseason of the three, played 30 minutes and continues to impress, scoring a team-high 20 points on Tuesday.
“We saw some great things,” Davisi said. “With me, Bron and Russ in actions, there’s endless possibilities of things we can run and we can do, especially with shooters on the backside like Melo and Baze — all our shooters. Still, an adjustment. We’ve done it a lot in practice but first time playing together tonight. Even though there were good things, a lot of things that we can do better. Still can work on our defensive schemes as a unit.”
Tuesday was a mixture of positives and negatives for the Lakers trio of superstars. On the plus side, the new Big Three shared the court for 19 minutes, sported a defensive rating of 95.6 and played at a rapid pace of 116.03.
This will be the Lakers at their best, forcing a turnover on defense and getting out in transition. This was a great pass from Russ with LeBron running the lane pic.twitter.com/oozdeqiFRg— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) October 13, 2021
On the downside, the offensive rating was just 91.1 as the team’s new-look offense remains a work in progress.
“It’s going to take a minute for us to become the team that we know we’re going to be capable of being,” James said. “It’s all about working the process, being patient with the process, understanding that we’re going to have frustrating moments, we’re going to have moments where we’re right there and we may take a step backward. I think nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for. We’re going to hit some moments where we just feel we’re right there but we’re not quite there yet. Any time you have a new team and a whole new core of guys, it just takes a little minute.”
The question of just how long it’ll take to get things right has been the most-asked one throughout the preseason. Through two weeks of the preseason, the Big Three have taken the court just once together. But as Westbrook reiterated when asked on Tuesday, the deadline is not the regular season opener but the end of the season next spring.
“I don’t have an answer for that one, honestly,” Westbrook said. “I know that’s the question everybody keeps asking. Nobody has a real answer for that. We’re just going to play like every other team and then we’re going to figure it out. We don’t know need to figure it out when the first game is.
“We got one goal in mind and that’s to win a championship so throughout the season, there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs, there’s going to be adversity. Once we’re together on the same page, that’s all that matters.”
Tuesday may have been the first look at the Lakers’ Big Three and it certainly provided peeks at what could be. But with big goals in mind this season for James, Davis and Westbrook, Lakers fans will have to exercise a lot more patience before seeing this team click on all cylinders.