Why Isn’t LeBron James Playing for the Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers have predictably faltered through the gate behind their inconsistent play. It’s featured star forward LeBron James struggling to work past nagging injuries. As the Lakers prepare to play the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, here’s why James isn’t playing.

Lakers are stumbling through early-season troubles

Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, the Lakers knew it would feature plenty of bumps as their revamped roster built chemistry.

After dropping their first two games, Los Angeles won five out of the next six games, with the only slip up being coughing up a 26-point lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, James’ absence has contributed to two straight losses, pushing the franchise to split its first 10 games.

The Lakers will take the court on Tuesday night without the four-time league MVP.

Why isn’t LeBron James playing for the Lakers?

As the Lakers work through the first few weeks of the 2021-22 season, it’s featured the four-time league MVP dealing with nagging ailments.

James missed two games after suffering an injury scare against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 24. The 36-year-old played through it until he aggravated an abdominal strain in the 119-117 win over the Houston Rockets on Nov. 2.

Since then, the Lakers announced the star forward would miss at least one week due to the injury. The team hasn’t revealed the extent of the strain but left the door open to remaining sidelined for an extended stretch beyond a few games. It suggests it may be a multiple-week type of situation.

Despite the lack of clarity, former longtime team head strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco took to Instagram to provide more details. DiFrancesco wrote that the injury occurs with the overextension of the torso combined with an extreme force that can happen during a tomahawk dunk.

He added that it could be a window of four to eight weeks regardless of the severity of the strain. However, that aspect remains the most crucial part as it will determine how much time James will miss.

Beyond that, it’s crystal clear that the Lakers must prepare for the real possibility that James won’t be available for much longer than a week.

Los Angeles needs Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis to step up

James’ extended absences shift the attention toward the Lakers’ two other stars to lead the effort.

Los Angeles acquired Russell Westbrook to lift some of the offensive workloads off his fellow All-Star teammates. His first 10 games in a Lakers’ uniform have featured several ups and downs, averaging 19.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.9 assists while shooting 41.8% from the floor and 26.8% from 3-point range.

Westbrook has shown promise behind his explosiveness to the rim, but he’s struggled to find cohesion playing alongside his teammates. The 32-year-old is coming off arguably his worst performance, posting eight points on 1-of-13 shooting from the field with six turnovers in the lopsided loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Westbrook possesses a prime opportunity to become a more significant offensive factor with James’ sidelined. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis will serve as the focal of the game plan as he’s averaging 23.1 points on 50% shooting from the floor and 11.1 rebounds.

Davis is working his way through an assortment of health issues, as he’s dealing with a stomach problem and a cold while experiencing soreness in his right thumb. He played in only seven minutes in the loss against the Trail Blazers on Saturday due to his stomach illness but could play on Monday night against the Hornets.

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