Former NBA champion Antonio Daniels recently spoke about how the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have to adjust with veteran superstar LeBron James back in action.
Daniels touched on what James’ return means for players like Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura.
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“I said a week ago, the concern that you have with LeBron James coming back is he’s LeBron James, right?” Daniels began. “He casts a big shadow…he casts a huge shadow. So, with LeBron James coming back, what that does is that takes some of the ball-handling responsibility off of Austin Reaves, who’s been flourishing handling that basketball.”
Daniels also noted that Hachimura didn’t get any playing time on Sunday in James’ first game back despite the fact that the power forward has been playing “very well” for L.A. Daniels emphasized that James’ return “changes things.”
There will certainly be an adjustment period over the next few games for the Lakers now that James is back. The good news for the squad is that the superstar’s return came earlier than expected, meaning L.A. has a good amount of time (seven games) to sort things out before the postseason begins.
The Lakers also didn’t acquire Hachimura for no reason, so it’s probably safe to assume that he’ll find his way back into the rotation. Since being traded to Los Angeles, he has averaged 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from deep.
There’s no avoiding the fact that this has been a very abnormal season for the Lakers. They essentially assembled a contending roster midway through the season before losing James for an extended period of time. As a result, they’re figuring things out on the fly and are perhaps the biggest wild card in the NBA right now.
But all things considered, the Lakers are in a significantly better situation now than they were around this time last season, and there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the team. Los Angeles is currently 37-38 on the season and would land in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 play-in game if the season ended today.
With James back, the Lakers are looking to move out of that position and into a more favorable one. An outright playoff bid is still on the table for Los Angeles, which surely remains a huge goal for the team.