With the Los Angeles Lakers currently making their playoff push, LeBron James’ effort — especially on defense — that has been questioned throughout much of the season has come under even more scrutiny of late.
At 34 years old, in his 16th season and coming off the most significant injury of his career, James is obviously not the same player he was in seasons past.
However, as the Lakers have struggled defensively and lost two out of their four games since All-Star Weekend, James’ effort has been magnified following his recent comments.
Following a strong performance against the New Orleans Pelicans, James challenged opponents who question his defense, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports:
“I mean, every team has the right if they want to single me out defensively. Come on with it,” James told Yahoo Sports. “Hey, listen, come on with it. Every team has the right to be like, ‘Oh, ’Bron’s over there.’ Hey, just come on with it. … We’ll see what happens.”
At this stage of his career, it truly comes down to effort. When the former five-time NBA All-Defensive First Teamer is engaged, he is still a capable on-ball defender. Such was the case when he forced New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holliday into a late turnover.
Along with James, the Lakers need to defend at a high level for longer stretches. As they will be without Lonzo Ball for at least another week, the Lakers recognize that getting back to their top-10 defense will improve their chances of making the playoffs.
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