The 2019-20 NBA regular season has been suspended until at least May, which, in theory, means that LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will be well-rested for their first postseason appearance in seven years. While that could end up being the case, James himself doesn’t see the break he’s getting as a competitive advantage.
In an interview with Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton on the “Road Trippin Podcast,” James said that the notion that he’s getting much-needed rest is “overly-blown,” and that his body was physically prepared for a long postseason run:
“The narrative that I don’t like is, ‘Well, now guys get so much rest,’ or, ‘LeBron’s 35, he has so many minutes on his body, now he can get so much rest.’ It’s actually the opposite for me because my body — when we stopped playing — was asking me, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ My body was like, ‘Hey man, what the hell is going on? It’s March 13. You getting ready for the playoffs. Why are you shutting down right now?’ And I was right there turning the corner. I felt like I was rounding third base, getting ready for the postseason, so the rest factor, I think, it’s a little bit overly-blown, especially when you in the full swing of things.”
James has obviously been elite throughout the season, but in the games that he played before the season was abruptly suspended, he looked like the James that carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals two years. Through five games in March, James averaged 30 points per game on 55.7% shooting from the field, including 37.5% from behind the arc, in addition to 10.6 assists and 9.4 rebounds per game. Those look like “Playoff LeBron” numbers to me.
James can get back to that level, but he said it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to play with playoff intensity without a few months to prepare:
“We’ve been out for about a week and a half now, so, I think maybe one and a half-two weeks of a mini training camp, and then 5-10 games — to get ready for the playoffs. I mean, if we just talking about finishing the regular season, you don’t need that much. You can do a week of training camp and get back into it by the end. But when you’ve been building six months of conditioning, and preparation ...
With how outspoken players have been about that exact issue, it would be surprising to see the NBA resume the season without some sort of preseason. Now, all we can do is wait for that day.