LeBron James, the iconic basketball player, is entering his 21st season with the Los Angeles Lakers. As James approaches his 39th birthday in December, the Lakers organization is focused on prolonging his prime by adding talent to the team rather than reducing his playing time. This article will examine the Lakers’ strategy to support James, assess his performance in recent seasons, and discuss the team’s plans to manage his workload and keep him healthy.
LeBron James has had a legendary career and continues to be a force in the NBA. Despite his advancing age, James remains impactful on the court. Last season, he averaged 35.5 minutes per game, slightly lower than the previous season but still higher than his initial years with the Lakers. James maintained impressive statistics, averaging 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game while shooting 50%. However, injuries have plagued him in recent years, resulting in missed games and potential concerns about his long-term performance.
The Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, Rob Pelinka, expressed unwavering confidence in James’ abilities and dedication. Pelinka commended James for his offseason work ethic, highlighting his early morning workouts and extensive time spent in the team’s facilities. This commitment attests to James’ tireless pursuit of excellence and professionalism. The Lakers believe that James sets a high standard for his teammates and are inspired by his unwavering work ethic.
Understanding the importance of James’ health for the team’s success, the Lakers have taken steps to build a roster that can share the workload and provide support. The organization secured contract extensions with key players, preserved the core from the previous season, and added new talents. The acquisitions of Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes, Cam Reddish, and rookies Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis contribute to the team’s depth, versatility, and shooting ability. This strengthened roster aims to manage James’ workload effectively and reduce the risk of injuries.
While James’ minutes per game have decreased over the years, the Lakers’ coaching staff recognizes the need to find opportunities to lessen his load during the 82-game season. Coach Darvin Ham mentioned the importance of considering the team’s schedule and identifying strategic moments to rest James. The Lakers are committed to partnering with James to ensure his longevity and well-being, aligning with his goal of making it through the entire season in optimal health.
The NBA’s new policy regarding resting players has raised discussions within the Lakers organization. While both Ham and Pelinka support the policy, Pelinka proposed an alternate solution: the elimination of back-to-back games. The Lakers faced 12 back-to-back sets of games last season, and this number has increased to 15 for the upcoming season. By reducing or eliminating back-to-back games, teams would have more time to rest and recover, potentially benefiting players like James who require additional care to maintain their performance levels.
As the Lakers solidify their roster and determine their starting lineup, Coach Ham made it clear that D’Angelo Russell will return as the team’s primary ball handler. Russell, who was benched in the Denver series during the playoffs, has the support of the coaching staff and management. Ham praised Russell’s basketball IQ, intelligence, and determination to prove himself. The Lakers believe in Russell’s potential, both individually and as a catalyst for the team’s success.
LeBron James’ quest to extend his prime in his 21st season is a focal point for the Los Angeles Lakers. Through strategic roster additions, workload management, and a commitment to his overall well-being, the Lakers aim to maximize James’ impact on the court while minimizing the risk of injury. With LeBron James leading the team, the Lakers are well-positioned to chase championship success in the upcoming season.
Source : ESPN.com