LeBron James: Missing In Action
The year is 2023, and LeBron James is still playing at an extremely high level. It’s unprecedented for somebody to come into the league at age 18 and still be dominating when they’re pushing 40. But can we really be surprised when we’re talking about the King?
The Lakers have struggled throughout the season, but the fight hasn’t completely out of them. Though injuries have struck, they have tried to persist and prevail through effort and hard work as a team. Plenty more exciting moments await LA and the rest of the league, and,, the NBA picks will change.
LeBron Misses the Game vs Miami
When the Lakers took the floor against Miami earlier in the week, they did so with LeBron not on the floor, out with a non-COVID illness. Surprisingly, this was the first time he missed action this year; they won three in a row in November. That Heat contest marked the ninth time James could not take the floor this year, for one reason or another.
In those contests, the team has surprisingly managed to post a 4-5 mark. They will have him back as they take on Atlanta in the next battle, a group he destroyed on his birthday recently. He posted 48 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. This is for a guy celebrating his 38th year of life! This type of greatness in recent years has not happened before.
Dennis Schroder scored 32 points to lead his team to a victory against the Heat. They were also without Lonnie Walker IV, who is slated to miss at least two weeks. Russell Westbrook returned after injuring his foot in a game earlier in the week to drop double-digit assists off the bench again.
The bigger story for the Lakers is Anthony Davis’s continued absence. But seeing James able to play big minutes every time he does take the floor is very encouraging. He has not logged fewer than 31 minutes in any games he has appeared in from 2022 to 23.
Many NBA greats in the league don’t make it until the end of their 30s. Some, like Vince Carter and Michael Jordan, can play into their 40s. Dwyane Wade didn’t make it past 36. Paul Pierce faded out of relevance in his last few seasons before hanging it up. Larry Bird only made it 13 seasons in the league.
But here is James, in his 20th campaign, averaging 29-9-6 per night. Not only that, but he’s shooting better than 50% from the floor. He has grabbed 10+ rebounds on eight occasions. 14 times in 29 games, he’s scored over 30 points. He’s even got five games with at least four threes made. Not bad, eh?
James likely will not win the MVP this year, nor again, before the conclusion of their insane career. That doesn’t mean he won’t continue to start All-Star games (off merit, not just popularity) and be among the best players. But it does mean that his trophy case will likely remain as is.
Many debate him and Michael Jordan as to who the GOAT should be. Sometimes, signing a tote and enjoying what the modern King does on the court every night is okay. In the social media era, we see much more James than we ever did of MJ.
Lakers Still In Danger of Missing Playoffs
Sure, James is continuing to play at a high level. But if you read this article between the lines, you’ll see the team is not currently in a playoff position. Even in a year where the World Conference is a bit water, they aren’t in the top 10. They are 1.5 games behind the Utah Jazz for the tenth seed in the play-in tournament as of today.
The big thing for LA is to get AD back on the floor and for James to play as many games as they can get out of him. Because Walker and Austin Reaves are expected to miss several weeks, they’ll need their stars there as much as they can have them.