The Lakers pitched LeBron James on playing more off the ball.
That plan predictably flopped.
His supporting cast was lacking. Though he indicated a desire to spend more time off the ball, when push came to shove, LeBron took over. Just like always.
This year, there won’t be any pretenses.
The Lakers’ other options at starting point guard:
Quinn Cook (not good enough)
Alex Caruso (not good enough)
Rajon Rondo (bad fit and not good enough)
So, LeBron will now fill a position of need while opening a starting forward spot that can be filled by someone better than those other point guards. The Lakers could start Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Kuzma in the frontcourt. But who besides Danny Green will defend opposing guards?
The Lakers could also start Green and either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Avery Bradley in a three-guard lineup with LeBron running the point but defending a forward. At that point, there wouldn’t be a massive difference in LeBron’s role relative to what he has always done.
No matter what, the offense will run through LeBron. By naming LeBron point guard, the Lakers just avoid starting another player who operates primarily with the ball. In the micro, this is a good, clarifying move.
In the macro, LeBron is 34 years old. If he’s tasked with bring up the ball and initiating the offense every time, that adds to his load. When playing forward next to a point guard, it’s easier for LeBron to defer at times.
Expect this to make the Lakers better – as long as LeBron’s health holds up.