With three practices in the books, and only one remaining before Monday’s preseason opener, it’s been business as usual for LeBron James.
“It’s been fun getting back on the floor, getting back with a unit and working on habits, trying to get better every day, keep on stacking the days,” he said after Friday afternoon’s session.
This is LeBron’s 20th training camp, which is something only nine other players in NBA history can say they’ve accomplished, but he’s still looking for things to fine tune.
“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve played this game, the day you think you can stop learning is the day you start going backwards,” he said. “I’m always trying to figure out ways I can get better and learn from coaches, new teammates and life in general. Every day is a learning experience for me, and I love being a part of this new coaching system, new coaching style, new head coach and the group of coaches that came in. It’s fun.”
James, who played in three preseason games last season, said that he expects to play in “more than I played last year,” though he didn’t specify which of this year’s six games those would be, or how many. With whom will he play?
Darvin Ham revealed a possible starting lineup for the first preseason game that would include Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, LeBron, Anthony Davis and Damian Jones.
Westbrook and Davis have of course played with LeBron, as has Jones, who looked good rolling to the rim and catching LeBron lobs in his eight games with the Lakers in 2020-21, when he converted 16 of 17 field goal attempts. Nunn, unfortunately, didn’t play last season due to a bone bruise in his knee. But he’s been playing very well in camp, apparently.
“Kendrick today was killing,” said Austin Reaves, who looks to be firmly in the rotation as well, and still a possibility as a starter. “I don’t think he missed a shot all day.“
Ham noted Nunn’s ability to score at all three levels, from three, to the mid-range, and at the rim, while praising his work defensively as well, showing that he can squeeze through pick and rolls, avoid screens and contest shots on the perimeter.
It takes time for some players to learn how to play alongside a defensive magnet like LeBron, but that process has begun. “You deal with it by getting on the floor, getting in the game, logging minutes,” said LeBron. “You start to get more and more into the game, watching more and more film, more and more practices and it starts to come with time. I think that will continue to happen with the new guys we have this year.”