LeBron James and the Lakers Shouldn’t Mess with Perfection at Trade Deadline

LeBron James and the Lakers Shouldn’t Mess with Perfection at Trade Deadline
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 23:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against Spencer Dinwiddie #8 of the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on January 23, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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The looming NBA trade deadline has a way of forcing every team to focus on fixing its flaws. But in the wake of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 128-113 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, there’s at least one team that should resist the temptation to tinker.

A 15-point win over a reeling Nets squad (2-12 in its last 14 games) playing with one healthy center may not be the best basis for making deadline decisions. And in the era of superteams, the Lakers could be forgiven for worrying that another title threat could make the bold move they eschew.

But the Lakers’ play all season, and against the Nets, suggests a big swing isn’t necessary.


Dominance by Committee

No, Kyle Kuzma isn’t the third star he said he could be. His 16 points off the bench were helpful, and he’s finished with double figures in each of his last four games. But his ball-stopping tendencies and occasionally glaring lack of feel mark him as much more of a role player than a reliable night-to-night star.

That’s not a problem when you’ve got so many other weapons chipping in.

Dwight Howard, a spot starter for the ill JaVale McGee, bullied the undersized Nets for 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Danny Green drilled four of his seven three-point attempts, a couple of which you knew were good based on the perfect rhythm of his patented tippy-toe hop gather.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope nailed all three of his attempts from deep, also joining Green in pestering Brooklyn’s guards.

Go down the list. Jared Dudley had his moments. So did Rajon Rondo, who managed 10 assists in 23 minutes.

We haven’t even mentioned Anthony Davis and his 16-point, 11-rebound night—partly because he doesn’t belong on a list of role-fillers, but also because he didn’t have to do much with so many able helpers lightening the load. 

This is a team of smart, no-nonsense (or, in Howard’s case, mostly benign nonsense) vets who can shoot, defend and benefit from the across-the-board greatness of LeBron James.


LeBron’s Heavy Lifting Is Light Work

With 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, James logged his 10th triple-double of the season. It was a solid reminder that you don’t really need a third star when you’ve got one who can do the work of several.

LeBron spent most of the game in analysis mode, taking w