Latest posts by Ashish Mathur (see all)
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When LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, the team started 19-20 and had major chemistry issues.
James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were struggling to coexist on the court and it took the three All-Stars quite some time to figure out how to play with each other.
Luckily for the Cavs, they’re in the Eastern Conference, so they were able to rebound from their slow start. Cleveland finished the 2014-15 season with a record of 53-29 and made it to the NBA Finals, where it lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
The architect of that team, former general manager David Griffin, says the Cavs were fortunate to be in the East because they were able to figure things out on the fly, knowing that once they got to the playoffs, they had the best player in the world in James and would be favored to win every series.
Griffin, appearing on The Full 48 podcast with Bleacher Report writer Howard Beck, says LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers can’t afford to get off to a putrid start in 2018-19 because of the ruggedness of the Western Conference.
“We started our first year together — with LeBron back and Kevin Love and Kyrie — we started 19-20 that year,” Griffin said. “And when you go through that kind of upheaval early on, in the East, you’re able to not have a great deal of stress around, ‘We have to make the playoffs.’ And obviously with that roster, at the time we put it together, we felt really strongly that, if we just get in the playoffs, we’re gonna wreak havoc.
“In the West, you don’t have that. You don’t get the advantage of, figure it out on the fly and let it take a great deal of time and start out 19-20 because your pieces are terrible fits.”
After James signed, the Lakers added Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley. Rondo and Stephenson aren’t known as good jump shooters — a trait players often need when playing next to James because he’s a great passer and collapses the paint on his drives to the basket. It’s fair to say there won’t be much floor spacing for the Lakers when Rondo, Stephenson and James are playing together.
Many have questioned James’ move to the Lakers since the roster appears nowhere near ready to compete for a championship. It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out for James and the Lakers.