(J Alexander Diaz/Los Angeles Lakers)
LeBron's Dime No. 1 Among Lakers-Heavy List of NBA's Top 60 Assists
At the expense of his new team, LeBron James put his world-class passing ability on full display with an assist that was named best of the year by the NBA.
Against the Lakers on March 11, James casually faked a pass to his left, drawing the entire defense (especially rim protector Brook Lopez) in that direction.
That left the paint wide open for him to flick a no-look pass to Ante Zizic for the easy slam.
Four months after this highlight play — which was also deemed “Assist of the Year” by the annual NBA awards — James joined this Lakers squad that is brimming with top-tier passers.
The roster’s penchant for distributing was seen in the NBA’s countdown of the season’s top 60 assists, as the Lakers were responsible for 13 of them.
James himself made a whopping six appearances on the list, while Rajon Rondo had three, Lance Stephenson added a pair, and Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma provided one apiece.
58) LeBron James vs. Detroit
The first of LeBron’s many spots on the list came against the Pistons, who couldn’t identify a man to cover a cutting Tristan Thompson.
James posted up and saw the wide-open teammate before firing the around-the-back bounce pass.
57) Lance Stephenson vs. Milwaukee
One spot ahead of James was Stephenson’s defense-to-offense highlight.
First, Stephenson used his enormous wingspan to poke the ball out of Tony Snell’s hands. Then he pushed the break himself before flipping it without looking at T.J. Leaf, who finished with the layup.
53) Lance Stephenson vs. Charlotte
Facing his old team, Stephenson put some of his trademark flare on this play that started by picking up a loose ball at midcourt and dodging a pair of Hornets with a behind-the-back dribble.
Then came a truly “Lance Stephenson” moment, as he (hilarously) swirled his arms in circles, with an appropriately matching facial expression, before dumping the bounce pass off to Leaf.
49) Rajon Rondo vs. Orlando
Rondo’s first appearance on the list came off one his signature slashes to the basket, as he beat his defender and drew over a second man, leaving Jrue Holiday open in the paint.
Rondo delivered the ball with tenacity, hitting Holiday with an around-the-back bounce pass.
42) Rajon Rondo vs. LA Clippers
Now that he’ll face the Clippers four times a year, it’s safe to say that the Lakers’ intracity foes are hoping to avoid more Rondo moments like this.
Up by 22 in the third quarter, Rondo felt the leeway to try something tricky in transition. With the ball on a four-on-one fast-break, he lobbed it off the glass from the free throw line for Anthony Davis, who flushed the one-handed jam.
35) Lonzo Ball vs. Detroit
For a player who would’ve ranked eighth in the NBA in assists if he had played enough games to qualify, Ball surprisingly only had one appearance on this countdown.
But it was a fine example of Ball’s high basketball IQ and presence on the glass, as he instantly tapped a missed shot to Lopez for an easy hoop, instead of simply grabbing the rebound.
33) LeBron James vs. Phoenix
LeBron looked a cross between Lonzo and Jared Goff on this rebound-to-assist.
He grabbed the board with one hand, already locked into a throwing motion. Then he heaved it perfectly to a wide-open Jose Calderon for two easy points.
26) LeBron James vs. Indiana
Not many players would try to fit a pass between three defenders, but James is far from your average forward.
He recognized the mismatch Thompson had on Victor Oladipo and tricked everyone in yellow by looking away to the wing before bouncing it into the restricted area for the dunk.
24) Kyle Kuzma vs. Boston
For as much as Kuzma torched the Celtics with his own shot on a 28-point night, his top play came on a pass.
First he shook off Marcus Smart with a spin move before driving to the hoop. There, he drew a second defender before tossing it behind his back for Larry Nance Jr.’s dunk, sending the bench into hysterics.
16) LeBron James vs. Atlanta
This one was risky even given James’ talent, as he probably could’ve fired a regular pass instead. But with his squad up 17, he increased the difficulty.
LeBron brought the ball up in transition and looked off the defense before firing an around-the-back (and past the defender’s foot) bounce pass to Kyle Korver for the triple.
8) Rajon Rondo vs. Portland
President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson (maybe you’ve heard he was a pretty good passer, too) loves how Rondo elevates his game in the playoffs, like during New Orleans’ sweep of the Blazers.
He made Portland look silly on this top-10 dime, cycling down the baseline before dropping off the no-look bounce pass to Davis for the easiest bucket of the night.
8) LeBron James vs. Orlando
This is some psychic-level stuff from James, who seemingly has more than one set of eyes.
After tracking down a loose ball, LeBron knew that the defense wasn’t paying attention to Dwyane Wade right under the hoop. So he took advantage by firing a sizzling bounce pass with his back to the basket.
1) LeBron James vs. Lakers
This one’s worth a second look.
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