The Los Angeles Lakers are only 12-12 to start the NBA season and the sharks have been circling. Choose a scapegoat and there are fingers pointing blame. Coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers front office, the players themselves. There has been plenty of blame going around to explain the Lakers' mediocrity.
Very few people appear to be offering the nuanced take that a brand new Lakers roster, full of new players who've never established rhythm or a vibe between them. The word 'chemistry' is overused by sports media, but perhaps not in this instance. The Lakers have had so many injuries that there's been not a moment to establish chemistry.
Michael Corvo of clutchpoints.com recently did ask the question. He asked James whether he thought he and his new teammate Russell Westbrook have had enough time to establish any chemistry. James was refreshingly blunt.
“We haven’t had enough games together to know exactly what’s gonna work the best for our team long term."
James also went on to explain that in the short term, Westbrook and James have been dynamic as transition playmakers and in the pick & roll. You can see some of that in this clip.
James makes a good point. First off, the fast-break ability is helpful to score points and offset a team's rhythm on the other end, but it doesn't make the whole game. James' point about chemistry and how to balance his game and Westbrook's is huge.
Both Westbrook and James are high-usage players who control the ball a lot. James has the ability to be an open shooter if needs be when Westbrook is attempting to get into the paint or be a playmaker, but Westbrook is not a shooter when the roles are reversed. Westbrook and James certainly need more time to establish their roles when they're both on the floor. They're both elite players and elite basketball minds, so finding that happy medium is certainly inevitable.
The only real question is whether there is enough time in the season for the Lakers to compete while that is being worked out.