One of the biggest questions surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers coming into this season involved LeBron James and limiting his minutes. Now in his 21st NBA season, LeBron simply can not take on the same workload on a day-to-day basis and it will be up to head coach Darvin Ham and the rest of the Lakers staff to keep that in check this year.
On Opening Night, we all got a glimpse at what to expect as James played just 29 minutes in the Lakers’ loss to the Denver Nuggets. LeBron was effective in those minutes as he finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 10-of-16 shooting, but it wasn’t enough for the Lakers to overcome the defending champions.
“We’ll see. In all likelihood, yes,” Ham said of when asked if around 29 minutes is the number they’re aiming for with James. “It’s going to be a day-by-day process, gauging how he’s feeling, get communication from him, our training staff, our medical staff. We communicate and collaborate and land on a solid plan. It’s easy with him to get caught up in the emotion of the game and you tend to forget you want to play these long stretches, but in order for him to be as effective as possible, we have to be mindful of the minute output and how long his stretches are.”
LeBron has never played fewer than 33 minutes per game in a season, so being below that level is something he surely isn’t used to. But the Lakers superstar is going to go along with the plan, even though he admits the competitor in him wants to be on the floor more, via NBA.com:
“Listen, I mean, I always want to be on the floor. Especially when you got an opportunity to win a game or you feel like you can make an impact. But I guess this is the system in place and I got to follow it.”
It’s tougher to accept those few minutes in a loss, and especially one in which he was effective. But even still, LeBron knew the plan going into the contest and was not angry at Ham’s substitution pattern.
“Nah, I’m not surprised. I already talked to Coach. We had a game plan going into game one. Not surprised or upset.”
The Lakers were a plus-seven with LeBron on the court in a game they lost by 12. Limiting James’ minutes is a must in order to preserve him for the season and into the playoffs, but Ham must find the right lineups and rotation combinations for the Lakers to thrive in those minutes otherwise the pressure will be on to push those minutes numbers higher.
Lakers’ LeBron James talks what motivates him in his 21st season
LeBron James is coming into this 21st season with high expectations and clear goals that he wants to accomplish this year. Chief among them is hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy once again and bringing the Lakers another championship.
The Lakers superstar spoke about another ring being his primary motivation this year, while also mentioning further cementing his legacy as well as the team itself being so hungry and pushing each other.
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