Despite their current four-game skid, the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten out to a tremendous start to the 2019-20 campaign. The Lakers are currently sitting with the best mark in the Western Conference just over a quarter of the way into the regular season. But, it has come with a bit of a cost with their star players dealing with some nagging injuries. That has put LeBron James right into focus as he’s recovering from yet another lingering ailment that has hampered him on the court. With that in mind, the Lakers should consider going to the route of managing James a bit more than previously thought.
LeBron James’ strong start
In the months leading into this season, there was plenty of optimism around the Lakers’ largely reconstructed roster that features many new faces. Among those is star forward Anthony Davis, who has been a huge part of their early success this year.
However, the biggest expectation was that James was going to bounce back after an injury-riddled first year in Los Angeles that saw him miss 27 games. That marked the first time in his career that failed to make at least 62 appearances in any season.
James has sped off to a strong start this year as he’s currently 10th in the league, with 25.7 points and a career-high, league-best 10.6 assists per contest. However, that has been hampered by some nagging injuries flaring up over the last week that have drawn questions about his long-term health over the course of the regular season.
Lakers should hed towards resting LeBron James
James has continued to be quite vocal about playing in every game he has can as long as he’s healthy enough to do so.
The 34-year-old has reached that point once again, where he’s ailed after reaggravating his groin injury. It’s the same one that had been bothering him earlier in the week as he revealed after Wednesday’s loss to the L.A. Clippers, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“I felt healthy going into the game,” James said after finishing with 23 points on 9-for-24 shooting, with 10 assists and 9 rebounds. “I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev, and it kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”
The Lakers may be in a bit of a rut at this point, but the team needs James to be healthy for the long run, and that that should further emphasize the need to allow this injury to heal fully. Keep in mind, he is also dealing with a thoracic muscle strain, which had previously forced him to miss his first game this year.
The groin injury that he is dealing with isn’t as severe as the one that forced him to miss 17 straight games, but it’s one that can get worse if not appropriately handled. That alone should lead them to err on the side of caution to avoid any long absence from the star forward.
Lakers, LeBron James must look at the bigger picture
The Lakers’ promising start to the season has given them a bit of a cushion in the Western Conference. Yes, the Clippers are gaining on them, especially after their win on Christmas Day, but the overriding importance for the Los Angeles is to keep James healthy.
Davis’ presence is a significant luxury to have on the roster, but it’s the four-time league MVP who is the driving force of the team. That was further emphasized in Sunday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, and quite frankly, whenever he is off the floor this season.
The Lakers need their two star players healthy for the playoffs, and can’t be blinded by their struggles in the regular season as being a real cause for concern. Los Angeles four straight losses came against legitimate playoff teams in the Clippers, Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Indiana Pacers.
If they hope to truly have a shot at contending for an NBA title this season, the Lakers need James to be as healthy as he can be.