After the first significant injury of his career during the 2018-19 NBA season, LeBron James has bounced back in his 17th season as he is set to turn 35-years-old soon.
As James has appeared in all 29 games, he is averaging 25.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 10.6 assists while leading the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference so far.
However, after the team’s road trip, James is considered doubtful against the Denver Nuggets now with a thoracic muscle strain, which happened against the Indiana Pacers.
While James did not require an MRI, it is viewed as a ‘significant issue,’ according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
James first sustained the injury, a pull in the rib cage area, against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and played through it during Thursday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. James didn’t require an MRI, but this is a significant issue and not just a load management situation, sources told ESPN.
Along with a thoracic muscle strain, James reportedly has been dealing with a ‘nagging’ groin issue recently:
Earlier this week, James said he didn’t plan to miss any games this season for rest. James has also been dealing with a nagging groin issue recently, sources said. Last season a groin strain on Christmas Day derailed James and the Lakers’ season.
As most will connect James’ groin issue to the one he sustained against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, there are not enough details to make that conclusion.
While it is currently unclear what the severity of each injury is, James has maintained he will play as long as he is healthy amid the load management conversations.
For James and the Lakers, they do have a four-game lead on the Nuggets in the Western Conference standings. With Kyle Kuzma expected to return after a five-game absence, there is an opportunity for James to get completely healthy.
Since the Lakers have heavily relied on James and have struggled without him on the court, it is also an opportunity for head coach Frank Vogel and his coaching staff to find new ways to be effective without their primary ballhandler.