After signing LeBron James, the Lakers emphasized tough-mindedness, playmaking and defense in building his supporting cast. Complementary shooting was deemphasized. That meant signing players like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
The results have been horrendous. Those players just aren’t good enough, even at the skills the Lakers coveted. Exacerbating the problem, those players also fit poorly with LeBron, who predictably took the ball back into his own hands.
The Cavaliers and Heat showed how well shooters complement LeBron. He’s lethal with space, and his forceful drives/passing ability creates numerous open long-range looks. If those shooters can also defend, that LeBron-led team is on the path to contention.
Instead, LeBron’s floormates shot just 33% on 3-pointers this season. That’s by far the lowest in the last dozen years, as far back as NBA.com has data. Here’s the 3-point shooting of LeBron’s floormates by season:
What did James think of the Lakers’ grand experiment? How did he view the idea of prioritizing playmaking over shooting.
“That experiment?” James said of the roster construction for his first season in L.A.
James stared out onto the court for a moment, turned his attention back to the conversation, pursed his lips and stuck out his tongue as he trumpeted air out of his mouth, making a raspberry sound.
And this is the response now that the plan (predictably) failed?
This is the difficulty of managing LeBron. He sometimes has roster input, but he’s not there to take blame when moves go wrong.
He has earned that power. LeBron brings so much positive to an organization, the people around him must deal with the drawbacks. It can just be frustrating.
It’s Johnson’s job, though. He must get the Lakers to the next stage.
On the bright side, the Lakers signed all these ill-fitting players to only one-year contracts. As I wrote last summer about the Lakers’ plan for this season: