LeBron explains adjustments to “new offensive system this year”

LeBron James and the Lakers have looked rusty to start preseason (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers clearly emphasized offensive improvements this summer. That philosophy seems to have extended past the personnel decisions made by the front office to affect the coaching staff, as well.

After Friday night’s preseason loss to the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James explained the adjustments that the roster is going through for that reason. Notably, LeBron – who played his first game of the preseason on Sunday – called it a “whole new offensive system” for the Lakers and maintained that it will take some time for the team to really start clicking on that end of the floor.

Of course, even if there was not a new scheme for everyone to learn, there was going to be an adjustment period as the Lakers need to get 11 new players up to speed. But it’s clear that even returning players in James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker have some work to do to get on the right page.

LeBron and Russell Westbrook both made their preseason debuts on Friday and struggled, both due to the rust of having not played for months and due to the struggles of learning to play a new system with new teammates. It is abundantly clear that the Lakers are nowhere near their peak performance at the moment and expectedly so. As LeBron put it, we’re not necessarily learning anything new from these preseason games.

Westbrook, after playing his first game for his hometown team, pretty much admitted the same thing:

There is an interesting thing to keep track of as the regular season begins for the Lakers based on these comments. Two seasons ago when Frank Vogel and Davis first came to Los Angeles, there was a similar level of apprehension about players getting used to each other and their coaching staff. That team managed to still come roaring out of the gate and take control of the Western Conference early, however, due to their impressive defense from day one.

This current Lakers team does not have the same defensive personnel on paper. And with the focus seemingly being on getting the offensive system learned and executed well, it’s questionable if they can make the defensive impact necessary to avoid a slow start. That is unless Vogel’s consistently top-tier building of defenses and AD’s DPOY-level production don’t carry the rest of the roster as many hope they can.

Would a slow start be the end of the world? Of course not. In fact, it should be expected that the Lakers stumble early and hopefully grow into the season and hit their stride by the time the playoffs come. But with so many comparisons made to the 2020 championship squad, it’s important to note some of these distinct differences and it will certainly be interesting to see how the team navigates uncharted territory.

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