When Rajon Rondo went down with a broken hand, ball-handling duties for the Lakers shifted. Lonzo Ball is still the nominal point guard with the starting lineup, but it has also gotten LeBron James more involved as a ball-handler and, unsurprisingly, that’s been a boost for both his stats and the Lakers’ success as a team.
LeBron gave his annual spiel about playing more off the ball and going to the post and not being the primary ball-handler this offseason, but as happens every year, he finds he’s most comfortable and the team is best off when he is the one initiating plays and making decisions. This has been the case for LeBron’s entire basketball playing career, and for some reason each year folks (including LeBron) insist he’s going to be willing to take a back seat.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst took a look at James’ return to being on the ball more, highlighting a few things that have stood out from Second Spectrum tracking data and in discussions with advanced scouts that have been watching the Lakers recently. For one, he’s handling the ball for a full minute more per game than he was prior to the Rondo injury, per Second Spectrum, which, as Windhorst notes, might not sound like much but with the pace the Lakers play at that’s a lot more possessions he’s initiating each game — and as such he’s scoring five more points per game.