Over the last decade, there’s arguably no two sides more familiar with one another than LeBron James and the Warriors. A host of Finals matchups made them rivals and defined an era of the NBA.
The storylines, then, are aplenty as the Lakers and Warriors face off. But with LeBron in a new city and with a new franchise, things are a bit different this time around.
As he’s known to do, Draymond Green grabbed a mic and recorded a podcast soon after his Game 1 loss to the Lakers. And as much as that sentence might cause some eye rolls, he actually had a very interesting observation.
“LeBron is playing a totally different style, totally different game than he’s ever played before and it’s interesting figuring it out. It’s very interesting — like you’re not used to seeing LeBron off the ball so much. I thought that was interesting and something that we’ll have to adjust to. It’s just not your typical LeBron running the show, which is a bit weird.”
Yeah, Draymond, this isn’t the Cavaliers! LeBron doesn’t have to shoulder the near entirety of the load anymore. He also physically can’t really carry that burden right now.
While head coach Darvin Ham stated that neither LeBron nor Anthony Davis had any restrictions coming into the postseason, LeBron has looked pretty limited. He has been both effective and limited with the foot tendon injury that cost him multiple weeks late in the season and may need surgery after the season.
Through seven playoff games, LeBron’s usage rate is 27.2%, the second-lowest mark he’s ever had in any postseason trailing behind only his first year in Miami. It’s also a notable drop from his regular season usage rate of 33.3%.
It’s not all a physical limitation, though. It’s a roster that doesn’t require LeBron to do the heavy lifting. Between guards in Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell that can be the playmaker and Anthony Davis playing at the level he’s currently at, LeBron can take more of a backseat.
It’s what makes this Lakers team so dangerous. Arguably the greatest player of all-time can be the fourth option offensively at times. It’s an absolute luxury.
So, it makes sense that Draymond had that observation, at least when referring to previous iterations of LeBron James teams. The only time LeBron played the Warriors this year, it was on Opening Night and that was a drastically different team.
Hopefully, it takes Draymond and the Warriors even more time to adjust to this new version of the Lakers and LeBron. Like, say, 3-6 more games?
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.