D’Angelo Russell was not the only player dropping dimes these past couple of games for the Los Angeles Lakers, but it seemed like his passing abilities were contagious because his teammates were making wonderful passes, too. This passing was on full display during Sunday’s game against Maccabi Haifa, when the Lakers had 30 assists as team. Although this is still in the preseason and against a non-NBA team; it still provoked optimism to see the Lakers share the ball. One should be careful building narratives in the preseason, but also cannot discount the vision and passing that some of these Lakers have.
The Lakers’ starting five is comprised of players who can pass the ball extremely well. The front court of Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert played well together, to no surprise the former showed his speed and attacking in transition, while the latter showed strong defense and rebounding. Both players have pleasantly demonstrated their inner point guard, dropping no-look assists left to right.
This behind-the-back pass from Julius Randle to Kobe is absolutely ridiculous. There are not that many power forwards in the world that can do what Randle did. The ability to rebound the ball and push the ball to find an open teammate is outstanding.
Big man, Roy Hibbert also displayed his passing prowess in Sunday’s game. His no-look pass out of a timeout to a cutting Julius Randle displayed how well Hibbert has been playing for the Lakers so far. He also made a nice bounce pass to Jordan Clarkson for an easy reverse layup. A lot of people forget that Hibbert went to Georgetown University under the guidance of John Thompson III, where he developed a high basketball intelligence.
This was a nice back-door pass to a cutting Clarkson.
The rest of the starting five, Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, all possess similar strengths in passing and scoring. They can handle the ball and run the offense at any given situation. Clarkson has been steadily improving from last season, and has been a strong all-around player so far. The fact that he played point guard most of last season gives him an advantage in knowing when to shoot or pass. Kobe has been an underrated passer for his career, and just last season had a career-high 17 assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Look at this half court bounce pass from Kobe to Nick Young for the easy lay-in against the Raptors.
I can’t finish this piece without mentioning the ultimate dime-dropping machine in D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers selected him because they felt like he was the best playmaker in the draft, and he sure proved that last game. Russell missed the past few games due to a glute injury, but he returned to action missing no beat at all, coming off the bench, he had 11 assists in only 17 minutes of play. Of those 11 assists, this no-look pass to Tarik Black particularly stood out.
The Lakers can be a good passing team because they have the necessary players to be one, but how well they can execute it for the rest of the season is still in question. The Lakers looked more successful and fun when the ball moves around freely. Most of the shots that went in were assisted by another player. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that the Lakers’ offense was more successful when they shared the ball. You can’t put too much analysis in a preseason game, but you can see what works and what doesn’t. The ball movement and unselfish play works for the Lakers.
Hopefully, we can see a lot more passing and sharing like this in the Lakers’ season.