Of course, the Lakers could just start James at the point, which was the team's "intention," per Yahoo Sports'Chris Haynes in July, but that doesn't change the need for a shooter who can defend against opposing guards. Under just about any circumstance, James should not be forced to chase around the fastest guards in the league all season.
Incumbent Rajon Rondo may get the starting nod based on reputation and experience. Rondo is at his best with the ball in his large hands. While James can and will dominate the ball (unselfishly), he shouldn't be the only player capable of handling it.
Otherwise, teams will throw tremendous defensive pressure to either wear James down or force a less-skilled player to initiate the offense. Rondo came into the league a poor shooter but has improved in recent years, hitting 35.9 percent from three-point range last season.
The biggest concern was Rondo's 113.3 defensive rating last year through 46 games played, which contributed to a poor net rating of minus-8.6, per NBA.com.
In comparison, Alex Caruso had a 102.4 defensive rating with a 3.2 net rating through 25 appearances. That's not to say Caruso should be starting over Rondo, but if the third-year guard can build off his success as a sophomore, Rondo's pedigree shouldn't put him ahead of a more productive player.
He's arguably the best defender of the three (at least by defensive rating) and an improved shooter (48.0 percent from deep on just 2.0 attempts per game last year). But is Caruso an everyday starting NBA point guard?
Coach Frank Vogel commented on Friday at Lakers media day that rotation spots (including starting roles) are up for grabs. If James takes on the primary ball-handling responsibility, the Lakers could start Avery Bradley as a defensive option at the 1.
Bradley, who has played most of his career as an undersized (6'2") off-guard, was a defensive standout for the Celtics, but hasn't been as consistent on that end of the floor since leaving Boston after the 2016-17 season.
Bradley noted that he's healthy and in great shape heading into the season. Over 63 games played, Bradley's defensive rating was 110.2 with a net of minus-1.5. He would need to improve those numbers significantly to be a starter. Bradley also needs to show that his ball-handling and decision-making are up to par, even in a secondary role with James.
Quinn Cook could provide another viable option in addition to Rondo, Caruso and Bradley. After spending the last two years with the Golden State Warriors, hitting 44.2 percent and 40.5 percent from deep, respectively, Cook should be the best shooting option at the position.
The biggest concern with the 26-year-old guard would be his 112.1 defensive rating last season (and minus-6.3 net rating). He was better through 2017-18 (108.4) but still a net negative (-2.2). Like Caruso, Cook has yet to play starters minutes over a full season.