Last night, LeBron James made his debut for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Russell Westbrook also made his purple-and-gold debut for the team, as we finally were able to see these two players on the court at the same time (sadly we didn’t see the full big three as Anthony Davis sat out this game after playing in the first two games).
In their debuts, the team came up short as they fell to 0-3 on the preseason from the 121-114 loss to the Warriors. Although the team’s defense has been very suspect (28th in the NBA in Defensive Rating so far) and the offense hasn’t been much better (21st in NBA), you won’t be hearing any worries from LeBron. When asked about what they could learn from having him, Davis, and Westbrook out there at the same time before the preseason starts, LeBron (ruthlessly) downplayed the significance of these preseason games (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll).
“I just want to continue to play ball, continue to work on our habits, things of that nature. I mean, preseason is…” James began, laughing and trailing off, seemingly pausing to consider in real-time how hard he wanted to blast the NBA’s annual preseason exhibition slate. “I care more about the practice court than I care about preseason games. You get out there and play rotations, and you’re trying to figure out things of that nature. There’s only so much you can get out of a preseason game, at least for me individually.
I think we can all agree that the most important thing in a team’s preseason is just getting through it without any injuries (Trevor Ariza will already miss time after an ankle procedure for an injury that was either sustained in training camp or right before camp). In terms of improving their team basketball, it’s hard to do that when you’re resting players to ensure no injuries happen before opening night. However, as LeBron continues to say, the preseason can be used to build things individually. But…yeah…LeBron isn’t really going to be doing that for himself considering this is the 19th preseason of his career (another h/t to Harrison Faigen and SS&R for the transcribed quote).
“It means something, as far as individuals getting in rhythm, getting in game shape. We have our practices, but being out on the floor and bumping up against another team and things of that nature, that helps. All I’m saying is that for me, there’s nothing I’m going to learn in preseason at this point of my career,” James said, laughing
First look at LeBron and Russ in the preseason? A combined 11 pts on 5-for-19 shooting, 10 reb, 6 ast, 8 turnovers. LAL begins the preseason 0-3 with a 121-114 loss to Golden State.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 9, 2021
As you can see from the statistics above, LeBron and Westbrook struggled in their first action together. That’s definitely understandable for their first game in basically six months. The bigger worry is how well the team is currently working together, given recent comments from the team (including Westbrook after last night’s game) that it’ll take some time for them to figure it out (the Lakers only have three players returning from last season’s team).
But let’s forget all of the analysis I did above. It’s so funny to hear LeBron just flat out say preseason doesn’t matter. Sure, we’ve all been thinking it, but it’s refreshing to hear it from The King.