Luke Walton has learned to not dictate plays when LeBron James handles the ball
Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton is slowly learning the kinks of coaching a player of the magnitude of LeBron James, as he recently figured out not to call plays when he has the ball in his hands.
“The scouts also have noticed that when James is running the point, he rarely looks toward the bench to receive playcalls from coach Luke Walton,” wrote ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “Even when he has seen them, the scouts say, he ignores them and runs the play he prefers. Walton has adjusted, and now when James is running the show, Walton will typically just let him call the game. This probably shouldn’t be considered a slight — it’s just James being James.”
Brilliance very rarely ever needs assistance, and James has been one of the most gifted playmakers of his generation. Blessed with an incredibly photographic memory and a keen eye for spotting his open teammates, LeBron James runs the offense in auto-pilot once he’s familiar with his team — often quarterbacking the action all by himself while dissecting what the defense is giving up.
Luke Walton has also managed to be conscious of James’ usage, considering he’s coming off a season where he played all 82 games of the regular season and all 22 in the postseason — totaling 3,948 minutes in his last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“In fact, Walton has done a good job of limiting James’ minutes and using the depth he has in the backcourt to attempt to ease the burden so James can be a bit fresher. He’s averaging a career-low 35 minutes.”
All of these factors have contributed to the Lakers winning seven of their last 10 games, allowing LeBron James to thrive within the system and make a steady push for a playoff seed in the wild West.