Anthony Davis will be out for four weeks with his calf injury, and that means the other players have to jump in and pull the additional load for the Lakers. Most of that burden lays on LeBron James' shoulders. Last year's Finals MVP knows that the Lakers' score will slip without his significant input, and we're already witnessing it - last night, the Jazz won by 25 points.
Despite LeBron's great displays, the Lakers have recorded four losses in a row and five in the last six games. In the previous defeat against the Washington Wizards, the Lakers lost in overtime, and LeBron played 43 minutes in that game. LeBron playing playoff minutes could potentially be a problem in the future. We know how much James takes care of his body, but you can't trick father time - he is 36 years old.
Earlier this month, LeBron was asked about his heavy minutes, but the Lakers superstar insisted that he doesn't need rest.
"I don't get tired. I don't feel tired. I get my sleep; I get my rest. I have a lot of energy. I don't get tired, and my mindset never gets to the point where it's like this is a long road trip, or I'm exhausted, or I'm tired.
LeBron James, Detroit News
LeBron is averaging 35 minutes per game this season and is ranked 18th in the league, but he's convincingly the oldest player in the top 20. He played all of 32 Lakers games this season, including four games that went in overtime. He's pushing himself this season, and he's not planning on lifting the foot of the gas.
"I think this whole narrative of 'LeBron needs more rest,' or I should take more rest, or I should take time here; it's become a lot bigger than what it actually is. We all need more rest. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I'm here to work; I'm here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates. I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it's growing to a point where it's not even coming from me anymore. It's just like, 'OK, LeBron should take time off' or 'Why is his workload at this?' I've been hearing it for five, six, seven years now, and I'm still going strong. So I don't need a handout, I'm not looking for a handout, my job is to go out when I'm available, when I'm healthy to go out and play, and that's what it's all about".
LeBron James, ESPN
James is coming from the other part of the spectrum in a league where we're all tired of load management. That, however, doesn't mean he has to play all the minutes because he could be gassed out when would it matter most or even wore; he could be risking an injury. The last time a Lakers superstar tried to carry the team on his back, it ended in an Achilles injury, and Kobe was never the same after that.
LeBron takes a lot of pride in playing 82 games but understands his legacy is made in the Playoffs. If there's a man we should trust on this, it's the superstar with the longest prime in NBA history.