Dwyane Wade Believes LeBron James’ Injury Helped Lakers Down Stretch Of 2022-23 Season
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers had to go through plenty of adversity throughout the 2022-23 season, though the work was worth it as they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers made the playoffs despite extended absences from LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James in particular seemed like he could’ve missed the rest of the season after sustaining a foot injury. The injury ended up costing James nearly two months, but he was able to return just before the start of the postseason.

In an appearance on ‘Club Shay Shay’ with Shannon Sharpe, Dwyane Wade argued that James’ absence actually benefitted Los Angeles because it allowed other players to step up and build their confidence:

“I think the outcome is different between the Lakers. With him getting that time away, actually we got a chance to see them grow as a team outside of LeBron. We got to see AD grow at that level. Obviously, when he on the floor, we was like a top five player in the league. We got a chance to see what the DLo can bring and what Austin Reaves can bring. The best thing to happen to the Lakers was LeBron’s absence because it allowed them to not have to depend on him, right? Because when you got a great player, you depend on that great player. And so they have the rock, and they have something to play for in the middle of that.

“And so I think it was great for the Lakers… And then when you saw he came back, he was a different player than he was before he went out even though his numbers were still big, he wasn’t leading the charge as much. He was allowing Reaves, AD and all these guys to do their thing and he was just kind of shadow boxing until he needed to be LeBron. So it was beautiful to watch.”

Davis filled the role as the team’s undisputed leader with James out and he responded with some of the best basketball of his career, while Reaves, Russell and the rest of the role players all had their moments.

Obviously having a healthy James is a better alternative than him being out, but there is something to be said about giving extra reps to the rest of the team. The good news is that if James does return for his Year 21 season, he is expected to be ready by training camp.

Lakers front office approaching offseason as if LeBron James will be part of team

James hasn’t yet made a decision on if he’ll retire or not, but the Lakers are reportedly operating under the assumption that he will be part of the team next season.

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