Three games into the NBA restart, the Lakers are 2-1 and are sitting at the top of the Western Conference. No surprise there, as they basically picked up where they left off. Well, everyone but LeBron. It's been an adjustment for the King.
Over the three-game stretch, LeBron has been putting up 19.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 7 assists per contest. James is doing it shooting .440 from the floor, which may be the most significant drop in his game so far. LBJ is struggling with his efficiency, as he's just coming off his first display of shooting over .500 from the floor in a win against the Jazz. The only number he would like to see gone down is his turnovers, but unfortunately for LeBron, they're up to standard with 4.3 a game.
Now, it's only been three games, and it seems unfair to criticize the guy based on such a small sample size. Nevertheless, that didn't stop Jalen Rose from voicing his opinion on James' performance in the bubble so far.
“Gotta get going LeBron, those Paul Pierce numbers”
The fact is LeBron's numbers haven't been up to par with his performance up until the hiatus. It may be a rhythm thing, as James is having a tougher time adjusting to playing basketball after a 140 days long break. But I see it as more of him deferring to Anthony Davis, taking a back seat to the Lakers' power forward. It's a pledge for the future, as The Brow is set to be LA's difference-maker when it's time for seven-game series.
When that time comes, rest assured LeBron will be ready. He and Danny Green are the only two guys the Lakers can count on to deliver when it's post-season time. They're the only two who have proved the lights aren't too bright for them when it's playoff time. Green's performance so far has the Lakers' fans feeling pessimistic, but I don't doubt the veteran. When it's his time to shine, I trust he'll deliver.
Based on what they've done throughout their careers, James and Green are only constants on the Lakers' roster. Everyone else is yet to prove their worth in the post-season, Anthony Davis included. That's what leads me to the conclusion that taking a back seat may have been LeBron's plan all along. His FGAs are down significantly, and so is his usage rate. For the first time, Anthony Davis is the Lakers' go-to guy based on the advanced stats. Coincidence? I don't think so. James has too high of a basketball IQ for me to think he didn't time such pecking order.
So I wouldn't judge the guy too soon. Sure, it hasn't been his best three-game stretch ever, but there's still a lot of basketball left to play. And LeBron has shown enough flashes to prove he's still got it. And rest assured, when it's time for the playoffs, James will be on his A-game again, just as he's been for the last decade.