Years missing the playoffs and accumulating draft picks that developed into attractive assets paid off in spades for the Los Angeles Lakers as they signed LeBron James in free agency. Even at 33 years old, most consider James the best player in the NBA.
After coming to terms with the three-time champion, the Lakers filled out their roster in an intriguing manner. It’s amounted to James beginning a season without another All-Star on the team.
So, some have criticized the Lakers for their approach and believe they are essentially wasting a year with James. And being on the wrong side of 30 years old, that means one of the remaining years of his prime.
James, however, doesn’t see it this way. In an ESPN interview with Rachel Nichols, James explained why he doesn’t believe the years of playing at an elite level are dwindling:
“I don’t even look at it like that because I don’t feel like this is going to be one of the last years of my prime,” James said. “That’s another statistic number, and I’ve always been a part of beating the odds in life. So being around my kids a lot, it gives me even more and more time in my youth.”
In fairness to James, critics have been expecting him to begin losing the battle with Father Time for a while now. And yet, James just put up his best statistical season ever, averaging 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists.
He did so while playing in all 82 games for the first time in his career. And now, with a youthful core and talented vets by his side, James may have a smaller ball-handling load to carry.
Put simply, when you have a player of James’s caliber on the roster, it is never a wasted year. It will, however, be up to the Lakers young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart to develop continue developing.
It will also be on veterans Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee to prove their worth on respective one-year deals.