At the end of practice Friday, Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel wanted to run some late-game situations with his team.
It’s the pick-and-roll combo — surrounded by whoever proves to be the Lakers’ best shooters — that has Lakers’ fans drooling and the rest of the league on edge. They could be the most dangerous pick-and-roll tandem in the league because of LeBron’s decision making and Davis’ versatility as a shooter or roll man. It has to be the core of the Lakers’ closing lineup. That combo was hit-and-miss Friday against the Laker reserves (that’s why training camp exists), according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. But it still turned heads.
Of course, the Lakers played it down.
“We have so many different lineup packages that we can probably go to throughout the course of the season,” James said. “So we’re just trying out a few things now in practice — going with smaller lineups, going with bigger lineups, going with quicker lineups, going with slower lineups. But that’s the luxury of having our personnel — we have the ability to do multiple things. So that’s what practice is all about, being able to work on those things.”
LeBron is right, this is why practice exists… and we know that at the end of the game this is the combo Vogel will lean on. As he should. (At this practice the three around them were Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley, according to ESPN.)
LeBron, for his part, was preaching positionless basketball.
“I’m a ballplayer. I’m not a point guard, I’m not a shooting guard, a small forward, power forward or a center. I’m just a ballplayer. You put me on the floor, and I can make things happen with whoever is on the floor. So I’m just looking forward to getting out there with my teammates because it’s exciting. It’s fun.”
The Laker rotations are a work in progress, as are how the ends of games work. Those experiments will go on into the regular season, chemistry and combinations that work are not formed overnight.
But if we don’t see a heavy late game dose of one-five pick-and-roll with Davis and LeBron the Lakers are doing it wrong.