By now, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James isn’t going to age like most athletes. In his 21st season in the NBA, James is still playing at an incredibly high level, averaging 24.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists through the Lakers’ first five games of the season.
That is certainly impressive though equally as impressive or perhaps concerning is the fact that he is averaging 35.5 minutes per game. This after coach Darvin Ham stated that he wanted to try and limit LeBron’s minutes this season.
Thus far, that hasn’t happened with LeBron still playing well over 30 minutes per game.
Los Angeles may be too reliant on LeBron.
In fairness to Ham, the Lakers have had four straight close games with each being decided by 5 points or less including two overtime games that forced LeBron to log 39 and 42 minutes respectively.
Presumably, as the season goes on, his minutes will decrease, though perhaps not as much as many had expected after Ham’s comments following the first game of the season. Even LeBron could wear down by playing extended minutes in his 21st season, especially if the Lakers hope to return to the Western Conference Finals and challenge the Denver Nuggets.
That would potentially add another 20 games to their season. LeBron and the Lakers know that it will be a long season if they hope to deep in the playoffs again. However, having to rely on a player who will turn 39 this season to carry them is perhaps the bigger concern. After all, the Lakers went 3-2 in their first five games of the season but they possibly would have gone 0-5 had they not opted to play him as much as they did.
NBA star LeBron James is now in year #21 and could either retire or leave in free agency but rumor has it that the Lakers have a surprise plan to keep him.
Hopefully, for the Lakers’ sake, they will be able to correct these early season trends so as to not wear LeBron down going forward.