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LeBron James takes control of the Lakers

His scoring is way up and his impact on Los Angeles Lakers games has surged, too. Not coincidentally, they’ve been winning more. They’ve won seven of 10 even after their 32-point loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Is it because he has become more comfortable in his new surroundings? Sure, that probably is playing some role.

Is it because his teammates are learning how to play alongside him and vice versa? No doubt.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

But that doesn’t seem to be the real basis of it. What seems to have gotten James back into the groove is that he’s back in his comfort zone playing lots of point guard again. It hasn’t been framed this way but that’s what he has been doing increasingly as the season has aged, and especially after Rajon Rondo went down because of a broken hand.

Since Rondo had to leave a game in Portland and subsequently have surgery, James is handling the ball almost a minute more per game than before, according to Second Spectrum’s tracking data. This is a significant spike because the Lakers have so many possessions where they push the ball in transition that ballhandling stats can be a little skewed. During this span James has increased his scoring average five points a game.1

In fact, his stats have improved across the board, especially his shooting, which has soared since Rondo went down. The Lakers are benefiting. Even “official starting point guard” Lonzo Ball is filling the lanes on fast breaks and coming out of his shell at James’ urging.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Advance scouts who have been tracking the Lakers report that Ball frequently becomes an off guard when James is in the game with him. It’s enough to wonder if this arrangement is truly their destiny of playing together in the future, especially if Ball is able to improve his outside shooting and show a willingness to drive the ball, as he has in recent games. Though Ball suffered a sprained ankle Tuesday, which may slow him down temporarily and add even more ball-handling duty for James in the near term.

This is probably because having the ball and controlling the offense is the way James has been conditioned to play for most of the past 15 seasons. He has won MVPs and titles operating as the de facto point guard. That’s who he is, even if it has a tendency to mentally and physically exhaust him at times.

James grumbled to Cavs management about the need to have more playmakers on the roster to ease this burden in recent years. It wasn’t that the Cavs coaches and front office ignored him — it was just that all their data showed they were better when James was the primary playmaker. They were sorry/not sorry about not taking the ball from him.