A recent report from Joe Vardon of The Athletic stated that the Los Angeles Lakers are “a little concerned” whether or not their superstar LeBron James is fully healthy, and whether he’ll be able to propel the team, who currently sit 10th in the Western Conference, into the playoffs and break the franchise’s five-year postseason drought.
James pushed back on that idea at the Lakers’ practice on Tuesday, and said he thinks he’s nearly back to his full capacity:
LeBron on where he’s at physically: “I’m rounding third base … sliding into home.”— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 20, 2019
The film backs up his conclusion. James returned from a likely Grade 2 left adductor tear against the Clippers on January 31st, and when the team comes back from the All-Star break on Thursday against the Houston Rockets, he’ll be three weeks into his return.
So just how healthy is he? To look into that, I made a video and broke down film on four key indicators from the Clippers game through the All-Star game. These indicators include two movements which the adductors play a key role in — first-step acceleration and lateral (side-to-side movement), his movement confidence (namely his willingness to absorb contact and drive into higher risk situations) and lastly, his endurance and conditioning level:
All in all, on two of the four indicators — first-step acceleration and movement confidence — James completely checks out. However, when it comes to lateral movement and endurance, he still has work to do. Considering the adductors are a primary driver of lateral movement, and he had to modify his training and conditioning program for over a month while injured, neither of these current issues is a surprise.
I personally believe James to be right around the 90 percent mark — right where it sounds like he thinks he is as well — with the final 10 percent coming back as he regains that lateral movement and elite conditioning.
I am also very confident James will get back to that point as quickly as humanly possible. There’s no other athlete in the world who I have more faith in when it comes to the commitment, dedication, and discipline required to get back to 100 percent, which is good news, because the Lakers’ difficult closing schedule will ensure they need everything James can give them. It sounds like he’s ready to bear that burden.
Dr. Rajpal Brar has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 1.5 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), and analyzes the Lakers from a medical perspective for Silver Screen and Roll.