Pump the Breaks on Showtime 2.0 in Los Angeles

Zach Schiller, Maroon-News Staff

Showtime is back in Los Angeles… or is it? With the best player in the world, LeBron James, taking his talents to sunny Los Angeles, California, many were ready to declare Showtime back and arguably the most important franchise in the NBA revived.

While I can certainly agree with the latter, Showtime is not back just yet for the Lakers. Even though the Lakers added some veterans along with James, their young core of talent remains the same as last season. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart have all shown flashes of potential, but clearly are not ready to compete for a championship.

For this reason, among others, James signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, his longest contract since signing with the Miami Heat in 2010. He realizes that building a championship roster will take time and will likely require at least one additional piece from the 2019 free agency pool, which features star players like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant.

The fear of a slow start has been slightly validated by the Lakers 0-3 start to the season. While this team is definitely improved from the 35-win team from a year ago, it is still not close to what it can be.

A big part of that has to do with the team’s chemistry. With the collection of young talent mentioned earlier, as well as a new veteran core featuring some interesting characters such as Lance Stephen- son, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and James, this team certainly should not be expected to have instant chemistry.

“I always kind of compare it to like instant oatmeal. It is not that fast. It takes a while to get to where you can close your eyes and know exactly where your guys are,” James said to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.

As some are quick to forget, James did not always have the fastest starts in each of James’ last two destinations. The 2010 Heat team started 9-8 and his first sea- son back with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 started out 19-20.

In addition to the Laker’s lack of chemistry, a couple of other components are holding them back from reaching their potential. Arguably the most important of those components is defense. Giving up 128 and 124 points to the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, respectively, on October 18 and October 20, is not a recipe for winning games in the NBA.

Additionally, the lack of three-point shooters on the Lakers is definitely a cause for concern in today’s modern NBA.

In the past, James’ teams have worked best when he can drive and find open shooters on the perimeter, allowing him to display his playmaking ability arguably his strongest asset.

The team shot an abysmal 23.3 percent from three-point range against the Trail Blazers; they followed that up with only a slightly better performance, shooting 25 percent from downtown, against the Rockets.

Despite these obvious shortcomings, there is still a great deal of hope for this team, as it is very early in the season.

The Lakers, who pride themselves on fast-break opportunities, outscored the 

Trail Blazers in the that department 34- 12, and the Rockets 22-17.

In addition, James already seems to be having an effect on the tenacity and grit of his new team.

“I liked our fight to get back in the game,” James said to media after the Blazers game. “We were down double digits. I liked the way we competed at times.”

Having championship aspirations for this team seems like a bit of a stretch, but ending their five-year playoff drought and winning a series or two seems well within reach.

For the first time in several seasons, Magic Johnson and Lebron James have given Laker nation hope that the famed purple and gold can return to national relevance and raise another banner in the Staples Center.

Contact Zach Schiller at [email protected].