Shaq: LeBron should let Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves be the No. 1 and No. 2 options

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal had some interesting thoughts on LeBron James potentially deferring to Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves in the 2024-25 season.

“If I was LeBron, being that I already have all the records, I would pass it to A.D.,” O’Neal said. “I would demand A.D. — ’cause listen, LeBron can still do what he do, but, ‘I don’t need to have the ball all the time. I don’t need to score all the points. So, A.D. I need you to score all the points. Austin Reaves, you can be No. 2. I can just be the old Magic Johnson-style point guard and keep everybody involved and just keep this thing going.’”

While it is an interesting concept to have James work in the point guard role to allow more production from Davis and Reaves, it also may not be enough for the Lakers to win.

Last season, James was terrific for Los Angeles, averaging 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game while shooting 54.0 percent from the field and 41.0 percent from deep in the regular season.

That play carried into the playoffs, as the four-time NBA Finals MVP averaged 27.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game across five games against the Denver Nuggets.

Despite those numbers, the Lakers still ended up in the play-in tournament (they eventually earned the No. 7 seed), and they only won one playoff game in the 2023-24 season.

Davis, who was an All-NBA selection in the 2023-24 campaign, also had a great season, averaging 24.7 points 12.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.3 blocks per game. While he may be able to handle the workload as the No. 1 option on offense, having James as a running mate is still important.

Reaves is certainly an up-and-coming player for the Lakers, but he averaged just 15.9 points per game in the 2023-24 season. With O’Neal’s suggestion that James spread the ball around to others and let Reaves play as the No. 2 option, it’s possible the Lakers could lose scoring production if James’ numbers go down and Reaves can’t make up the difference.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer is also a terrific passer, so it makes sense to have him in a role where he handles the ball a lot to set up his teammates.

However, James has gone to 10 NBA Finals in his career and won four titles and is arguably the greatest player of all time. Since he’s still playing at a high level, it may be hard to ask him to intentionally take a step back in the offense for others.

Ultimately, new Lakers head coach J.J. Redick will need to find the right formula on offense to get the Lakers to make a deep playoff run in the 2024-25 campaign.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.