LeBron James still figuring out role alongside Lakers’ young core

LeBron James, Lakers

Through the first quarter of the season with Los Angeles, James is still having some trouble finding his role with the team’s young core group.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a disappointing performance in the blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers quickly turned it around on Thursday night pushing past the Indiana Pacers 104-96.

It was a contest that the Lakers had started off strong with a commanding 38-15 lead that saw them shoot 69.6 percent from the field along with 60% from 3-pt range while getting 11 assists on 16 made shots. However, things had dissipated after that with Los Angeles eventually seeing their entire lead evaporate in the third quarter. 

This was a contest that saw that once again looked for star forward LeBron James to step into a prominent scoring role in the second half notching 21 of his game-high 38 points on the night with 12 of those points coming in the decisive fourth quarter after he checked into the game with around eight minutes left in the period. 

After the Pacers had closed the gap to 89-88 with 4:56 left in the fourth quarter, James closed out the game scoring 12 out of the last 15 points of the game that gave the Lakers the edge. It was a game that could have tittered south as it has on several occasions so far this season, it was James once again stepping into the closer role to push the team back in the right direction.

This has seemingly become the norm as the season has worn as the 33-year-old has continued to step in more firmly into that spot, but it’s something that he is still working his way around what type of responsibility he has on a nightly basis switching back and forth between scoring and being a distributor.

“That’s the thing I have been battling with since the season started,” said James, who notched his sixth 30-point performance of the season. “How much do I defer to get some of our young guys to figure it out and how much do I take over games. Tonight was one of those games they looked at me to close the game by making plays both offensively and defensively.”

It has been a constant juggling for James throughout the first quarter of the season as he has had to shift his priorities on the floor on what has been seemingly a nightly basis with their young core group going through the motions. Third-year forward Brandon Ingram has gone through his ups and down throughout as he was able to pour in 14 points against the Pacers, but he has struggled to truly breakthrough alongside James as initially hoped with 15.6 points per contest so far this year. 

Second-year forward Kyle Kuzma has stepped it up with 16.4 points per contest while shooting 47.4 percent shooting from the floor. However, he has had his moments where he has struggled offensively on the court. The same could be said with second-year point guard Lonzo Ball going through his promising moments while struggling at other times. Second-year guard Josh Hart has also struggled to find his consistency as of late but did notch an encouraging outing against Indiana with 13 points off the bench on 6-of-7 shooting.

“We’re still going through the process,” Ingram said on his fourth-quarter role. “Like I said, we find the shot for our team. Whatever it is, whether it’s swing-swing or getting to the basket or the free throw line. Whatever it is, everyone is just region to find the best shot.”

This has continued to be a fluid process and looks like it will continue do so with James having to fill out the process while the youth on the team works toward demonstrating more growth and stable play. Until then, the four-time MVP may see many more night ahead where he does more heavy lifting offensively.

The following two tabs change content below.

Bob Garcia IV

Staff Writer at Sports Out West
Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He is also currently covering the NBA and NFL for ClutchPoints. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarciaivsports.


To Top