After being criticized for his lethargic defense last season, LeBron James appears to have recommitted himself to becoming a better defender for the 2019-20 season.
Jared Dudley, James’ new teammate with the Los Angeles Lakers, says that the four-time MVP has so far shown in scrimmages that he can still play tenacious defense.
“A lot of defense has to do with your energy level, so someone like LeBron has had to save his energy so much for offense, but now we have Anthony Davis,” Dudley told Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen. “We have better scoring on this team than last year, so he can be able to shift and balance his energy in the right way to help both offensively and defensively.
“In scrimmages, he’s being really assertive. His man isn’t scoring. He’s not being lackadaisical with back door (cuts), he’s assertive because you have guys like Anthony Davis calling and directing, and making it a lot easier on everybody.”
A strong defensive effort this season would go a long way in redeeming James’ reputation around the league. During his prime years defensively, James was a six-time member of the NBA’s All-Defensive team.
With the Lakers relying on him a lot offensively last season, James had to relax a little bit on the other end of the court to conserve his energy. But with new head coach Frank Vogel at the helm, the Purple and Gold is focused on primarily being a defensive team.
“Well, that’s going to be our DNA,” James said. “Coach Vogel has stressed that, the coaching staff has stressed that, and that’s what we want to do. That’s going to be our mark.”
With a renewed interest in becoming a defensive force, James could be a prime candidate once again for MVP honors by season’s end.