One of the hallmarks of a great player is that he makes the players around him better and lifts up the entire team. LeBron James may get another chance to display his status among the greatest if the Los Angeles Lakers are successful in their pursuit of Christian Wood.
“If LeBron can get him to toe the line, it cements LeBron as the greatest player of all time,” one NBA source said of Wood to the Los Angeles Times. “That’s how hard it is.”
The 27-year-old free agent played last season for the Dallas Mavericks, who were his seventh team in seven NBA seasons since he debuted with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2015. His talent level isn’t in doubt, with his scoring average above 18 points per game for the last three seasons.
But there has to be a reason he has bounced around the NBA like he has and also had multiple stints in the G League since coming out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“Polarizing” is a word that’s been used to describe Wood, who reportedly is also drawing interest from the Cleveland Cavaliers. His scoring statistics don’t seem to translate into success for his team, as he has never played in an NBA playoff game.
The Lakers are totally committed to their quest of making another run at the NBA championship after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season. That is where James’ possible ability to get through to Wood could come into play.
The 38-year-old recently announced he will return for his 21st NBA season and take another crack at winning his fifth NBA title. Now in the twilight of his career, James has no time for distractions in pursuit of that ring, so Wood would have to be fully on board, something he may not always have been in the past at his other NBA stops.
The Lakers had to have pleased James by re-signing Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura while also adding Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Taurean Prince and Jaxson Hayes this offseason.
Vincent, as one example, seems to be an overachiever as an undrafted player who also has valuable playoff experience gained during the Miami Heat’s run to the NBA Finals last season.
If James can somehow help Wood become a similar success story, both of their reputations would likely be enhanced.