LeBron James has been the primary reason the Los Angeles Lakers have enjoyed so much success during the 2019-20 NBA season.
Despite being in Year 17 of an already illustrious career, James has somehow managed to defy Father Time and continue to play at a level that places squarely among the elite.
While James is not quite the same level of athlete that he once was physically, he is still one of the most cerebral players in the league and it shows with how he controls a game from tipoff to the final horn.
However, James was clearly not needed against the Golden State Warriors as the Lakers blew them out, 116-86. The 35 year old was a scratch from the contest as he nursed a sore groin, but was still on the bench to support his teammates.
In his postgame interview, head coach Frank Vogel discussed how the team looks different without James on the floor and how players were able to step up in his absence, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Well, we’re different on both ends of the floor. LeBron’s probably our best communicator on the defensive end. So he’s calling out coverages, putting guys in the right spots. And obviously he has the ball in his hands a ton offensively orchestrating the action.
So Do got that responsibility tonight, and Alex and those guys did a good job of orchestrating and running the offense and got us a W.”
James’s resurgence on the defensive end has been a pleasant surprise t as he has garnered a reputation in recent seasons for not trying on that end in an effort to preserve himself down the stretch of games. Most people would argue that is the correct thing to do given how many career minutes he has played and recent injury history, but he has certainly tried a lot harder this regular season than he has in previous ones.
James is one of the few true ball handlers and playmakers on the team, so having him out of the lineup can cripple their offense. However, Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo were able keep the ship afloat against Golden State as they got dribble penetration and were able to make the defense pay when they got into the paint.
James’s health should be the utmost importance for the purple and gold as he is their most important piece and they will need him at 100 percent if they hope to make a 2020 NBA Finals run come June.