Rich Paul has reportedly told other agents that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will move up to the four and five spots, respectively, in the coming 2021-22 NBA season. This looks like a bold move from head coach Frank Vogel. The ultimate question is: will this tweak work and bring the Los Angeles Lakers another title?
Let's discuss the three reasons why this move guarantees another Purple and Gold their second chip in three years.
3. LeBron James plays all positions anyway
Though LeBron James is identified as a forward, he never really behaves like one. After all, his quickness, passing ability and supreme vision make him the perfect point guard. Also, he has that brute strength which enables him to guard players taller and bulkier than him.
For his entire NBA career, this is how his coaches have been utilizing him. The man literally plays all positions on the floor at any given moment. As such, yes, James moving up to the four spot is a major adjustment. But it's not as if this is the first time we'll be seeing him at the four spot.
Besides, James can do a ton of things as a power forward. Since the Lakers are armed with deadly shooters like Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington, Kendrick Nunn, defenses would have to think twice if they really want to collapse on James.
2. Lakers have elite playmakers
The purpose of James' moving up a spot is to alleviate him of his “point guard” duties. These include close-outs, guarding quicker players, among others. These take a toll on anyone's body, especially for a 36-year-old man who has been playing professional ball for almost two decades. James is still more athletic than most NBA players, but the Purple and Gold are keeping it safe.
James moving up the four spot and thus not having the ball in his hands like he's used to is an understandable cause of concern for Lakers fans. The four-time MVP's greatest asset is his passing and vision. It may seem like this adjustment will underutilize James' abilities. However, let's not forget that the Lakers now have Rajon Rondo back, as well as Russell Westbrook. Both players have led the league in assists for a combined six times (three each).
As a matter of fact, Westbrook has averaged double-digits in assists in five out of the last six seasons. Though Rondo's passing numbers have gone down over the last few years, Lakers fans know this is a trivial matter compared to the other plethora of things the veteran brings to the floor.
1. Russell Westbrook will shine
Apart from the things already mentioned about LeBron James, perhaps one of the reasons behind this adjustment is to accommodate Russell Westbrook's high-octane style of play. With a mobile frontcourt comprised of James, Davis and Melo, Westbrook can do the thing he's been doing for most of his career: run the fastbreak. This is where Westbrook is at his best.
Of course, he can be a bit crazy in transition. But for the most part, Westbrook does well when he runs. And to max out his potential, he needs his teammates to run with him as well.
It's easy to imagine fastbreak opportunities with Westbrook at the helm and Melo running to the wing while LeBron and AD are waiting for an alley-oop. Or it can even be Rajon Rondo or James running the break, Anthony still running to the wing and Westbrook flying high for a thunderous slam. The options are infinite.