Heading into Year 19, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James remains one of the best players in the NBA, though injuries have impacted the last couple seasons of his career.
A groin injury in his first year with the Lakers robbed them of a chance to make the postseason, while a high-ankle injury during the 2020-21 campaign submarined any chances of them repeating as champions. Even though he and Anthony Davis believe the longer offseason was beneficial, the team has to be careful about overextending the superstar too early in the year.
Head coach Frank Vogel knows better than anyone how crucial it is to make sure James is able to get through the entirety of the season and he discussed how his workload is going to be managed. “Day-to-day. We’ll be intelligent,” Vogel explained. “He’s someone that if he feels well, wants to be in there. Obviously probably don’t want to have him play 82 games, but we’re not going to prescript X amount of nights off. We’re going to take it as it comes throughout the year.”
As far as minutes go, Vogel is looking to keep James in the mid-30s. “We still want to be around a 34 range, as a script at 34-36 and then obviously hope for a situation where the group on the floor is playing well where you can leave them over there a little longer. It actually, in some ways, if he stays over there too long and gets cold, it’s worse for him than to get back in there, especially since we’ve been playing this type of rotation for so long. But we want to keep it around about 34 minutes ideally.”
The best part about having someone like Russell Westbrook on the team is that it could potentially allow James more rest on the bench. One of the biggest reasons why Vogel has had to play James extended minutes on some nights is because the Lakers lacked players who could organize the offense, but with Westbrook in tow that should no longer be an issue.
The Lakers are a clear-cut contender if James is 100 percent healthy, so it is good that Vogel and the coaching staff have a plan to keep him as fresh as possible.
Rob Pelinka details training staff’s approach
Last season, the Lakers were one of the most injury-riddled teams in the league, so in order to fix that Rob Pelinka made changes to the training staff. This time around, Pelinka explained that the training staff will be taking a more tailored approach to how players are treated.
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