With the Los Angeles Lakers having just kicked off their preseason schedule, the team is entering the 2018-19 NBA season with a ragtag collection of centers whom many believe don’t have a chance to earn a starting job on almost any other NBA team. But that doesn’t seem to faze the Lakers’ recently signed superstar, LeBron James, who has been rumored in the past to be in consideration to play some minutes at center despite being a natural forward.
“We want a positionless team,” said James, who was described by Lakers.com reporter Joey Ramirez as the “perhaps the most positionless player” in basketball history.
“There’s gonna be times when we’re all playing different positions. I think that’s going to be the benefit of our ball club.”
In a career that will officially span 16 seasons once the NBA regular season kicks off next month, James has been utilized at all five positions at various points in time, seeing the majority of his minutes at small forward. But as he suggested when he was interviewed during Saturday’s team practice, there are other Lakers players, including Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and recent addition Michael Beasley, who are versatile enough to play more than one of the five traditional positions in basketball.
“We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. It’s going to work well for our team. It’s good. We just have to help rebound.”
LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker pic.twitter.com/kVfNubGdZy— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 1, 2018
Despite oftentimes fielding a comparatively small lineup in the 2017-18 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were among the best rebounding teams in the NBA last year, as they ranked second in rebounds with 46.4 a game, and seventh in rebounding differential with 1.6 more rebounds per game than their opponents. But with the team expected to field more small-ball lineups in 2018-19, Lakers.com suggested that it might be harder for them to flex their muscle on the boards, as natural forwards like James, Kuzma, and Beasley could all see minutes at center as they split time in the middle with JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac, and rookie Moritz Wagner.
Still, positionless basketball might not always be the best way to go for the Lakers, even if head coach Luke Walton is all for implementing it. As quoted by Lakers.com, Walton said that effective rebounding would be essential to the team’s success in the 2018-19 season, but added that there might be some times when the Lakers will go back to traditional positional definitions.
“If we can’t rebound the basketball, we’ll have to get away from positionless basketball and go back to the good ol’, solid [positions] one through five,” said Walton.