LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t gotten off to the start they probably envisioned this season. LA is just 12-12 through 24 games and currently sits in eighth place in the crowded Western Conference standings.
But a recent lineup experiment has intrigued James so much that he thinks it could be a secret weapon for the buoying Lakers moving forward.
LeBron James has struggled to find a rhythm this season
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for James. He’s played in only 12 of the Lakers’ first 24 games due to various injuries and a false positive COVID-19 test, so he hasn’t been able to find a rhythm on the court just yet.
“I feel like obviously before going to Sacramento (last Tuesday), I was getting into a really, really good rhythm,” James said recently, per Lakers Nation. “Offensively, defensively as a team, we were playing well. Those guys did a hell of a job winning that game, but for me, it’s been very frustrating either dealing with the groin or the abdomen and then having to deal with the false positive that knocked me out a game and then knocked me off the floor and not being able to keep my rhythm.
“It’s been a very challenging year to start going through the season for myself, but only good things ahead.”
Despite his unlucky start to the year, James is still averaging 25.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. It’s a long season, and LeBron should be able to find a groove soon to spark a hot streak for LA.
James has been encouraged by his minutes at the center position
The Lakers have thrown out a variety of different lineups over the past few weeks in an attempt to find some sort of groove. One of the more unique lineup experiments they’ve tried out is James at the center position with Anthony Davis on the bench, and LA has seen mixed results thus far.
The Lakers haven’t been exceptional on defense with LeBron at the 5, but they’ve been dynamic on offense with the smaller lineup. According to SB Nation, LA’s net rating with James at center is +17.6 this season, which makes it one of the most efficient lineups on the team.
James has felt comfortable at the center spot because he can see the entire floor on defense and yell out directions to his teammates, and he thinks more minutes at the position could be the secret recipe for the Lakers going forward.
“Just my rhythm, my keys, and things of that nature, but besides that, I get an opportunity to tell the guys up in front of me, because I’m in the background on defense to let them know exactly what’s coming,” James said. “So that we can stay above everything that’s happening, I can see everything that’s developing. It’s been pretty good for us this year when we have myself and Melo at the four and five.”
Expect to see more of LeBron at the 5 in the coming weeks.
Lakers still one of the favorites to win the NBA title
Despite the Lakers’ slow start to the year, sportsbooks still believe they’re one of the teams to beat on the road to the NBA Finals next summer. A quarter of the way through the season, LA still has the fourth-best odds to win the title at +900, according to DraftKings.
Will more LeBron center minutes be the key for the eighth-place Lakers to finally make a run to the top of the standings?