The Los Angeles Lakers have gone 5-2 in their last seven games, including stringing together a four-game winning streak at one point.
Against everyone except the Memphis Grizzlies, they’ve looked much better than they have at any point this season.
One big reason why?
LeBron James shifting to the five.
This week, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gave his honest take on how his best player has looked playing a whole different position.
“There’s some defensive benefits to it as well, especially with certain matchups where we’re doing a lot of double-teaming with elite guards and you have more speed to scramble around the perimeter,” Vogel said (via Silver Screen and Roll). “There’s still a lot of areas of those types of coverages that we need to improve on but the speed of that can be beneficial.”
James’ versatility, specifically, is what makes all this possible.
“Whether he’s guarding the five or if he’s on the backside at the 3 or 4 or whatever, his voice has been critical over the last three years of me being here and this era of Lakers basketball to the defenses that we’ve had,” Vogel continued.
“He’s the middle linebacker. He’s the best communicator. He’s the best anticipator. Anybody who wants to question what he’s doing on the defensive side of the ball, he’s critical to everything we do defensively.”
There’s a reason why Anthony Davis trade talks have picked up over the past month. LA is playing better with James down low than it had with Davis in the same role.
That said, it’s unclear how sustainable this is. Which explains why the Lakers are making such a serious push to acquire Myles Turner from the Indiana Pacers.
Antonio Brown gets his revenge.https://t.co/XQhTMmvNAr
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 12, 2022
It will be interesting to see how this little experiment develops going forward. Can James successfully continue in this current role, or will LA need to get itself a proper five as the playoffs creep closer?
An answer should emerge in the coming weeks and months.