In his 19th season and with two other superstars on the Los Angeles Lakers, it was believed that LeBron James would be able to take more of a step back from his usual high usage game. But with the Lakers struggling amidst injury and chemistry issues, LeBron has stepped up, continuing to control the game in all facets and playing at an unbelievable level.
Technically, James’ usage is slightly lower than in his previous years with the Lakers, but it isn’t noticeable in any way as seemingly every night Lhe is putting up outstanding numbers in an effort to get a win.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case as often as he or the Lakers would like, including Wednesday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, so LeBron will continue to look for ways he can improve and help the team.
“Obviously we’re playing the game and I only play the game for one reason and that’s to win,” James said after the loss. “No matter what I’ve been doing as far as this season so far, it hasn’t resulted in as many wins as I would like. So I’ll continue to see ways I can be better as well, see things that I could do both offensively and defensively from a leadership standpoint to help this team get over the hump even a little bit more.”
As for his high usage rate, LeBron feels like it’s par for the course for his career. “For me, I don’t get caught up in usage rates and heavy loads and things of that nature. That’s been me my whole career since I was an 18-year-old kid taking over a franchise. So that type of pressure or that type of load is something I’m accustomed to, I’ve been accustomed to it for 20 years.”
What it has required this season is for James to play more center than he ever has throughout his career, which brings an entirely new role defensively. But again he brushed that off as well.
“I don’t mind it,” LeBron added. “For me personally, it doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to get the job done.”
While James may not worry about the load he is carrying, it would make sense that the coaches and trainers would be monitoring this very closely. Head coach Frank Vogel insists that he and LeBron are on the same page in regards to making sure he is fine physically.
“I’m in constant communication with LeBron about his usage and minutes and all those type of things and he repeatedly on a day-to-day basis says he feels great,” Vogel said. “In particular, with the style of play that we’re playing where the paint is open and the game is being made easy, so it’s easy for him to play the minutes that he’s playing.
“It did seem like he had stretches where he either looked fatigued or I think sometimes you can misperceive the energy as we’re getting kicked by the other team. So sometimes, that’s the body language more than fatigue. He’s been shooting the crap out of the ball and had a tough shooting night from deep, but he’s been reporting that he feels really good.”
The Lakers certainly have had some nights where they have been ran off the floor by the opposition and that can have a negative effect on body language. But regardless, for the time being, LeBron and everyone else have no concerns about his ability to carry this team the way he has.
James gaining ground on Curry in All-Star Voting
James being an All-Star starter is basically a foregone conclusion at this point, but whether or not he will be a captain is up in the air. Stephen Curry held the lead after the first voting returns and he still does after the second, but it is a much tighter race.
After the second returns, LeBron trails Curry by less than 80,000 votes and with the way he has been playing as of late, the idea of catching and surpassing Curry is a very real possibility.
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