Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James continues to thrive as a facilitator

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers continues to impress as the primary facilitator on the team.

With the Los Angeles Lakers roster completely reshaped and filled with shooters to surround LeBron James, an excess of potential starters on the roster kicked off a whirlwind of rumors about the Lakers’ starting lineup in August. Who will start? Who will come off the bench? What are the most effective combinations?

With so many players dedicated to the art of shooting, it did not take long before LeBron James was mentioned in the starting point guard conversation.

Frank Vogel did not hesitate to reiterate that nothing had been decided at that point in time, but on opening night, maybe accomplice a calf injury that kept out Rajon Rondo, the job was entrusted to LeBron.

After a loss in that same game, Vogel was fast (maybe too much) to declare that Rondo would take the spot once healthy. Well, games came and went, he returned from the injury that sidelined him for nine games, but James held onto the point guard job.

What changed on the coach’s mind? After the initial loss, the Lakers went on a nice streak. Things were working seamlessly, a well-oiled machine resting on LeBron’s knowledge and management of the game. They continued with another successful run (16-1). Vogel never looked back.

The role is not certainly a novelty for James, but for the first time in his career he is officially the floor general who handles the ball a majority of the time. The new strategy is allowing him to play a career-low 34.9 minutes per game, manage his offensive load and be able to focus on his defensive effort.

On the team side, the more or less new way he is affecting the game is of great benefit for the Lakers, that can now count on Anthony Davis’s scoring prowess and a new shooting department. Numbers and stats, if eye proof was not enough, are supporting his contribution in LA’s new success.

At the current stage, LeBron is at the top of the league in many categories relative to assistance and overall game impact that prove how much his managing ability impacts the Lakers’ performances.

First and foremost, the 16-year veteran is leading the league in assists per game at 10.9. Furthermore, he is also first in potential assists and in assist points created, per NBA.com, trailed in second position by Phoenix Sun Ricky Rubio, not a joke of a passer.

James also leads the league with an astonishing career-high 51% assist percentage, while sits fifth in win shares and fourth both in box plus/minus and value over replacement player, per Basketball-Reference.com.

Not surprisingly, once again the King is leading the league in Real Plus-Minus and finds himself sixth in Player Efficiency Rating, per ESPN.com.

Anyway, this new approach does not keep him from scoring his share of points a night with 25.4, and, most importantly, it is not preventing him from taking over games when the moment requires it. He is top 10 in fourth quarter points.

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Despite a strong competition, with a great team record, LeBron James is back in the MVP conversation, still playing at the highest level in his 17th year. A whole summer of rest and training rejuvenated and prepared him for the new challenge, which, so far, he looks perfectly up to.