LeBron James played just 29 minutes in the Los Angeles Lakers Nuggets‘ 119-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday to begin his 21st season. The 38-year-old superstar’s reduced workload is a part of the Lakers’ long-term strategy, according to head coach Darvin Ham.
“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 We need to be aware of his minute output and how long his stretches are for him to be as successful as possible, Ham said.
James was done for the night by the time the crowd began to jeer the Lakers with a 115-103 deficit in the final seconds of the game, asking, “Who’s your daddy?”
Despite this, James remained L.A.’s top scorer with 21 points (10 of 16) and a team-high eight rebounds. With five assists and no turnovers, he finished with the best plus-minus of any Lakers starter at plus-7.
“Listen, I want to be on the floor all the time. particularly when you have the chance to win a game or you believe you can have an influence,” James remarked following the match. “But this is the system in place and I’m going to follow it.”
Upon being questioned about whether he would need to modify his strategy due to his reduced playing time each night, James expressed his confidence in his ability to still have an impact on the game even with the extra rest.
James said, “Considering my performance and the things I completed on my own during the game, I believe I was productive for myself even though we didn’t win that time.” I believe so. I was, after all, a plus-7 for the match. No mishandles. Above all, I enjoy that there are no turnovers.”
James finished the 2017–18 season with the second-highest amount of minutes played (35.5) in his five seasons with the Lakers. However, he missed 27 games due to a right foot ailment.
During the team’s media day in Los Angeles earlier this month, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said that James needed to devise a plan. The group “partnered” with to “get him all the way to the end” of this campaign.
Mike Mancias, James’s longtime athletic trainer, was advised in the decision, according to Ham. James expressed that he was “not surprised or upset” by the way the Nuggets used his minutes.
Although Ham stated that the amount may change over time, the squad is starting the season with the intention of keeping James in the 28–30 minute range.
“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,” Ham stated.
Given James’ new role, it will be even more crucial for Los Angeles to receive effective play from big man Anthony Davis, 30,.
In the first half against Denver, Davis scored 17 points for Los Angeles on 6-of-11 shooting, but he was scoreless in the second half (0 for 6 from the field).
In an explanation, Davis said, “They started double-teaming.” They tried packing the paint. I failed to make a few simple layups near the hoop and small jumpers. Just trying to execute the play well and let our guys take it from there. Take it out on me if I’m doubled. Both Gabe [Vincent] and Rui [Hachimura] had open threes. They stayed upright. However, I need to film it more.”
In his Laker debut, Vincent finished with six points on 3-for-8 shooting. He noted that Davis must be involved, but added that in order to maximize the offense as a whole, Los Angeles also needs every player to be seeking for his shot.
“I think we’re going to continue to try to get him involved,” Vincent stated. “But it’s crucial that everyone maintains their aggression. I believe that we were observed staring and standing motionless far too often. I believe that everyone needs to play the game and be aggressive. From there, we’ll keep looking for him and figuring out how to be combative and other things.”