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Lakers’ LeBron James ‘could very well be the best passing forward ever,’ per Nuggets coach

lebron james, mike malone, lakers

The Denver Nuggets have one of the best, if not the best, passing big men of all time in Nikola Jokic. While Jokic is categorized as a center, according to his head coach, the Nuggets are currently facing NBA history’s premier passer at another position in the Western Conference Finals—Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, per Forbes’ Joel Rush.

“They have a player in LeBron James who could very well be the best passing forward ever to play the game,” Malone said on Saturday. “And he’s always looking up the floor.”

James played facilitator in the Lakers’ 126-114 Game 1 win, scoring only 15 points, but racking up 12 assists to go along with six rebounds.

James ranks eighth on the NBA’s all-time assist list with 9,346 career dimes—by far the highest placement for a non-guard. In the 2019-20 regular season, he led the league in assists for the first time in his career, averaging 10.2 dimes per game.

James is third amongst qualified players in assists per game in the ongoing playoffs (9.1).

The Lakers bested the Nuggets in transition in Game 1, scoring 16 fastbreak points to Denver’s 10. Evidently, Malone believes Denver’s ability to keep up with the Lakers in the open court will be key.

 “A lot of teams say they wanna run, but they’re not in shape to do so for 48 minutes,” Malone said. “Their ability to convert from defense to offense is remarkable.”

L.A. ranked sixth in the NBA in fastbreak points in the regular season with 22.5 per game, while Denver was a bottom-10 transition team at 17 points per contest.