It was clear when LeBron James selected the Lakers in free agency in July that he’d spend the early portion of his career in purple and gold chasing the legacy of Stu Lantz. We joke, but last night, James tied Lantz and this Magic Johnson guy for the second-most points in a Lakers debut with 26, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 27 points in his debut with the team in 1975. For you fantasy hoops historians, it’s fun to note Abdul-Jabbar averaged a career-high 16.9 rebounds to go with 4.1 blocks in his first year in Los Angeles.
During a small three-game Thursday slate that saw James’ Lakers lose to a Blazers team banking on continuity from its star backcourt, we saw other strong statistical performances emerge around the league — such as the Philadelphia 76ers‘ Ben Simmons delivering yet another triple-double against the Chicago Bulls (he’s averaging a healthy triple-double against the Bulls for his career). Simmons is now tied with Jason Kidd and Magic with 13 career trip-dubs through his first two career seasons — just 54 shy of Oscar Robertson. It appears Simmons has some work to do to catch up with Oscar in this regard.
While it’s early in the season, new narratives, such as the Lakers trying to surround James with the requisite shooting talent to contend — the team shot only 1-of-7 from 3-point range on his passes and 7-of-30 overall beyond the arc on the night — will undoubtedly develop in these first few games of the marathon campaign.
From a fantasy perspective, the stars showed up during Thursday’s light slate, with James joining Damian Lillard, John Wall, Joel Embiid and Zach LaVine as players to score at least 26 points in their respective outings.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: 26 points (9-16 FG), 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 TO
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: 30 points (11-19 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 TO
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: 28 points (9-21 FG), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Nik Stauskas, Portland Trail Blazers: 24 points (7-11 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 3-pointers
John Wall, Washington Wizards: 26 points (9-16 FG), 9 assists, 3 blocks, 3 TO
Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland Trail Blazers: 5 points (1-10 FG), 6 rebounds, 1 TO
Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers: 7 points (2-7 FG), 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 TO
Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards: 9 points (3-7 FG), 11 rebounds, 0 3-point attempts
Having attended the 76ers vs. Bulls game last night in South Philly, I can attest to the ant