Head coach Darvin Ham has made it clear that besides a talented roster, the Los Angeles Lakers need LeBron James and his star teammates to stay healthy if L.A. is to become successful again.
In 2021-22, James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook played together in just 21 games due to injuries plaguing the Lakers’ season. The four-time NBA champion made just 56 appearances, struggling with the abdomen and ankle issues throughout the campaign.
Yet, James still ended up recording 30.3 points per game, the second-highest point average of his career, proving he can still play at an elite level at the age of 37. Ham has said lessening the forward’s workload will be one of his priorities next season, hoping it’ll help the All-Star remain available for when the team needs him the most.
“Just maintenance, and he’s done a phenomenal job his entire career, taking care of his body, and spending the resources and provide himself with the right people around him to make sure he’s able to sustain the type of level you see him play at even to this day,” Ham said.
“So just being in and not just Bron, but AD, Russ, our entire group. Like we’re really, really player health-conscious, like we’ll get with the performance team build out a plan for everybody. And again, the plan is to get stronger as the season gets longer.
“So that’ll be my No. 1 goal is to try to lessen some of the wear and tear on LeBron because, you know, I feel like he’s shown that level he’s playing that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So I just want to try to help and assist him with being able to sustain that level.”
LeBron not concerned by physical toll of playing center
James’ body took more beating than usual during 2021-22, as the forward put in several shifts at the 5 in the second part of the season. However, the Lakers star said the physicality of the position isn’t something that concerns him.
“It doesn’t matter for me personally. My personal goal is to be able to play any position on the floor,” James said.
“Every game is different. Matchups is different at times, so to be able to have the availability to our team that I can switch off and play center for minutes or point guard for minutes or play the wing spot for minutes, according to what the game dictates or needs.
“That’s for me to make sure that I’m equipped and I’m in the best possible shape I can be in to help us win ball games.”