Sunday night was another typical game for the Lakers. After giving up a huge lead in the first quarter, the Purple and Gold were never able to make up ground before the final buzzer, and the Suns walked away with a 140-111 win.
After the contest, Deandre Ayton spoke about the game, citing how he felt after L.A. tried out their infamous small-ball lineup to start the game.
“Yeah, I felt disrespected that they came out small. I mean, I can guard their lineups, I don’t know if they can guard ours. That’s just my thing, I’m just punishing teams like that. Last year even when the league was trying to play this small ball. I’m traditional big man, it don’t phase me though. At the same time I’m still a big that could move a lot and guard one through five -- willing to guard one through five. So it’s just stuff like that you have to adjust to and know that the league is changing every day, and that traditional big stuff when it’s small on bigs, that matchup will never change.”
The Lakers have had some success when sticking LeBron James at center. His size and playmaking ability make him particularly versatile at the position.
"I believe in the history of the ball game there are two guys that can do what he's doing and I've seen one of them do it and that's Magic Johnson (I saw him do it in the NBA Finals) and I believe that's LeBron James," said Shannon Sharpe. "It's a lot different now than it was back then because you don't have traditional centers. You don't have guys that really post up. Now, it's positionless basketball and it has allowed LeBron James to play the five."
To give full credit to James, he had a solid performance with 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game on 50% shooting.
Unfortunately for James, Ayton also had a pretty great game, with 23 points and 16 rebounds on 78% shooting. His team also got the win.
Perhaps, despite what some believe about the "LeBron at center" experiment, the Lakers might be better off abandoning that approach before they disrespect anyone else.