For years, conventional wisdom has been that the best way to build a team around LeBron James is to surround him with plenty of shooters. The Los Angeles Lakers, after signing James in free agency, took a drastically different approach.
They instead opted to target playmakers and those who could contribute on both ends of the court, such as Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson. While the strategy has drawn plenty of criticism, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has insisted that James is fully on board with the plan.
Additionally, Johnson is a firm believer of the Lakers’ path and how James can benefit. “It takes the pressure off of him. He doesn’t have to make every play. That’s what wears him out, what wears him down,” Johnson explained of the bevy of playmakers on the roster.
“He doesn’t have to make every play now. We’ve got guys that can make plays on their own, so he can relax on offense some.
“And also, we’re a fast-breaking team, so we’re not just going to be throwing it down to him. We’re going to be out and running. This team will allow him to be fresh and ready for the playoffs.”
Last season, James led the NBA in minutes-played by a large margin, averaging 37.9 per game while appearing in all 82 games. For his career, James ranks 20th in minutes played, and the only person above him on the list that who is still active is Dallas Mavericks stalwart Dirk Nowitzki.
Given the wear and tear James has accumulated over the course of his 15-year NBA career, it’s going to be important for the Lakers to do what they can to keep him fresh and prolong his playing days.
While Father Time is undefeated, Johnson’s plan could help the Lakers get the most out of their newest star.
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