Things are going south for the Los Angeles Lakers as they are mired in a three-game losing streak that’s largely been a result as offensive deficiencies. Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder being sidelined created significant voids, and LeBron James has struggled to carry the team alone.
The Lakers’ most recent stumble saw them squander a 17-point lead in what amounted to an overtime loss to Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards.
James logged 43 minutes, the most of any Laker, and further exasperating that was how much he factors into every possession when on the court. The ball was constantly in James’ hands as he either attempted to drive to the rim, launched from deep or tried to feed teammates for 3-point looks or on cuts to the basket.
The larger-than-normal role during the past three games has caused James’ usage rate to spike to 38.7%, which is up from his season average of 34.8%. Concerns about getting sufficient rest have emerged, but the 18-year veteran said he gets plenty of it.
“I mean, I’m resting now sitting here talking to you guys,” James said. “I’m resting when I get in my car and head home, I’m resting when I get home, I’ll rest tomorrow. I think this whole narrative of, ‘LeBron needs more rest,’ or I should take more rest or take time here, has become a lot bigger than what it actually really is.
“I’ve never talked about it. I don’t talk about it. I don’t believe in it in. We all need more rest.”
James added that the shortened offseason, in which the Lakers and the Miami Heat received the least amount of rest, is a factor, but he’s working through it.
“This is a fast turnaround from last season and we all wish we could have more rest,” James said. “But I’m here to work and to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates. If I’m hurt or not feeling well, we can look at it then.
“I have nothing but honest people around me, but I’m also honest with myself as well. Me having a love for the game and being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything.”
Although James could opt for load management or other alternatives to obtain rest occasionally, he is fine with the current pace.
“I’m not pushing myself. I’m going out and playing the game. I’m doing my job and I’m trying to do it at a high level,” James explained. “That’s been a narrative around the league. I’ve never asked for time off or time throughout the season. It’s grown to a point where it’s not even coming from me anymore.
“It’s just, ‘Well, LeBron should take time off. Why is his workload this?’ I’ve been hearing it for five, six, seven years now. I’m still going strong. I don’t need a handout, I’m not looking for a handout. My job is to go out when I’m available and healthy to go out and play. That’s what it’s all about.”
Frank Vogel ‘looking for opportunities’ to rest LeBron
In contrast to how James feels about his playing time, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel admitted he wants to search for avenues where rest for his star is plausible.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to make sure we give LeBron appropriate rest,” Vogel recently said. “After the All-Star break we still don’t know what the schedule looks like, but hopefully they build in some appropriate time for those guys to get their legs under them and get the rest that the guys who aren’t in the All-Star Game are going to get.
“Like we do all year, we’ll continue to evaluate that on a day-by-day basis.”
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