Frank Vogel: LeBron James & Lakers’ Conditioning Still Improving
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

This season has not been one to remember for LeBron James and the Los Angeles so far. While his numbers on the court have remained impressive, especially considering it’s his 19th NBA season, he has been in and out of the lineup for a number of reasons.

First, it was ankle and abdominal injuries that cost LeBron a handful of games, which was then followed by a one-game suspension for the incident in Detroit with Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart in just his second game back. LeBron then got three games back before being forced to sit out another due to being entered into the NBA’s health and safety protocols for what was ultimately deemed to be a false positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test.

The Lakers have been fortunate to finally get a couple of days off between games and LeBron admitted that being in and out of the lineup has disrupted his rhythm and conditioning.

“I feel decent physically,” LeBron said after practice. “I’m still getting back to where I was before I think it was the second time when we played Houston when the injury occurred late in that fourth quarter. And then the suspension and then the false positive has all kind of just knocked me in and out of rhythm as the season has started so far.

“So as far as my wind and things like that, the only way to get that back is put in the time and the work on the floor as we did today in practice, got up and down, that was good for my heart rate and in the games as well.”

Regardless of how much players work out, there is simply no substitute for real game minutes, even for someone like James. This especially holds true with the Lakers wanting to run the floor.

The team currently ranks second in the NBA in pace and head coach Frank Vogel believes the team’s conditioning wasn’t quite where it needed to be.

“I don’t think it was there to start the season where it needed to be, but I think guys have gotten better getting their legs under them,” Vogel said. “But this season there’s been a handful of guys on the floor each night that have been out that have been fighting that battle individually whereas the whole group is not necessarily doing it, but that’s just the nature of guys being in and out of the lineup. One of the battles we’re fighting.”

Injuries have been the story of the Lakers season and none was bigger than the one that hit James himself. Hopefully the worst is behind them and LeBron can lead the Lakers and begin turning this season around.

James doesn’t believe Lakers need to make any roster moves

As the Lakers continue to struggle there are some rumblings that the team could look to make some moves, but LeBron maintains his belief in the roster Rob Pelinka put together this offseason.

“It’s impossible for me to say ‘OK, when do we get to a point where we need to make a change?'” LeBron said. “And I don’t think we even need to do that. I love every guy that’s in this locker room and I believe in what we’re capable of doing. When we get enough game reps and enough logged minutes – we’ve had guys in and out, especially me. I can’t even say how I feel at this point because I’ve been in the lineup half the games.

“I love what Rob and coach and the front office did to assemble this team, and we look forward to the journey ahead of us.”

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