When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, it was clear they were going to expect more from their roster, especially the young core.
The team’s 2017 NBA Draft haul of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart have proven themselves capable of handling real minutes while Brandon Ingram continues to flash his potential as a two-way force.
However, it was always going to be an adjustment for everyone on the roster to learn how to play with James given his need to have the ball in his hands at all times. He is at his most effective when he is able to make decisions on the court, whether that be scoring or passing the ball.
Ingram believes the team is prone to watching James when they are on offense, according to Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation:
“We slip into that but also we trust the ball in his hands. We know he’s going to make the right play for the team; whether it’s shooting the basketball, whether it’s passing the basketball,” Ingram explained.
“I think we just have to do a better job of being ready, moving without the basketball and moving to open spots so we can be in areas to make plays.”
There have been several moments during the 2018-2019 NBA season where the young core defers to James to make a play, especially late in games. The 33-year-old is nearly impossible to defend when he has it going and it is easy to become fixated on him instead of remaining engaged.
While it is natural to fall into the habits Ingram described, he is also right the team should be able to trust James to make the correct decisions every time he has the ball. There will come a point, though, where he and the rest of his teammates will need to pick up the slack and help shoulder the load.
Even with James in town, the Lakers could still be playing better basketball. In a loaded Western Conference, the purple and gold will need to start stringing together wins if they hope to make the playoffs.