The Los Angeles Lakers‘ busy offseason has led many to label them as a heavy NBA title favorite this upcoming season. LeBron James heads into his 19th season with the chance to add a fifth championship to his illustrious. James has let that opportunity push him to make a notable change regarding his body.
Injuries derail Lakers’ NBA title repeat hopes
The Lakers headed into last season eyeing winning a second straight NBA title.
However, those aspirations quickly became clouded after injuries began to accumulate. Anthony Davis experienced nagging leg issues, leading him to miss two months due to a calf ailment related to his Achilles tendon.
James also became hit by the injury bug missing six weeks due to a right high ankle sprain. The two stars returned in the final two weeks of the regular season but weren’t physically the same players. James reinjured his ankle just before the start of the playoffs, while Davis suffered a groin injury in the first-round series against the Phoenix Suns that sealed his team’s fate.
As training camp shortly begins, James has already left a strong impression.
LeBron James’ NBA title hunger drives him to make pivotal change ahead of his 19th season
After experiencing an injury-plagued 18th season, James used the summer to focus on his health.
The revamped efforts led the four-time league MVP to take a renewed approach regarding his playing weight. During a recent press conference, general manager Rob Pelinka revealed that the 36-year-old slimmed his physique ahead of training camp.
“We all know LeBron studies the greats and he adds things into his game, Pelinka said. “I think going into this stage of his career he’s made a decision to come back a little bit leaner and I think that’s going to translate into his explosiveness and quickness. But he’s been very locked in with his training.”
ESPN‘s Dave McMenamin also noted that the star forward kept his weight around 250 pounds, where he was listed throughout much of last season. The altered approach likely stems from wanting to better withstand the physical grind that comes with playing an entire 82-game regular-season slate.
As much as James has proven to be an ageless wonder, it’s his commitment to his health that’s allowed him to maintain his high level of play. It will continue to be the determining factor that will extend his career as long as he desires.
Beyond that, it’s a promising sign that the star forward is ready to lead the Lakers toward an expected NBA title contention.
Lakers need LeBron James to lead NBA title push
The Lakers entered the offseason with the task of rebuilding the roster around their star talent.
Los Angeles first acquired Russell Westbrook to add a playmaking point guard pair alongside James and Davis. The front office then filled the supporting cast with shooting and versatile defenders.
The Lakers hope the revamped roster can balance and ease some offensive workloads off their stars’ shoulders. At the same time, James will still need to be the all-around game-changing factor in his 19th season.
His fit alongside Westbrook will be crucial to the team’s success as it will require a must-needed adjustment between their respective playing styles. Each player has historically excelled with the ball in their hands, likely leading to more off-the-ball scenarios.
The Lakers are circled as one of the NBA title favorites heading into next season, but it will take plenty of work to reach those lofty expectations. A significant part of the equation will be sacrificing egos and buying into the team’s game plan.
All these factors set the table for a special 2021-22 campaign.