LeBron James has yet to take the court for the Lakers this preseason, but his work for the upcoming year started well before training camp last week. His offseason work has always been well-documented, and this summer was no different.
The Lakers’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook has served as motivation for James and Anthony Davis as they look to return to the championship form that saw them win a title in 2020. For Davis, the added motivation of a year missed due to injury helped him work silently in the shadows this summer.
James has never been one to work in the shadows, and his work ethic during the offseason has never been questioned, but even by his usual standards, astute observers of James this preseason would note how he appears to have slimmed down.
On a recent episode of “The Lowe Post” by Zach Lowe of ESPN, Dave McMenamin, also of ESPN, revealed James’ latest focused this offseason, which included adding lean muscle, giving the appearance of James losing weight.
“We’ll start with LeBron, who looks great, and went into his two-a-day offseason regimen on his own a month before training camp started. Rob Pelinka reports that LeBron has trimmed down. I asked LeBron about it, he kept it close to the vest, but he said ‘listen, I’m always looking for ways to find an edge, find a margin.’ I spoke to a source close to LeBron, (and) it’s not necessarily that he lost weight, but he’s added lean muscle.”
James adding muscle could be a sign that he expects to play more of the four this season. During his Lakers tenure previously, James has mostly been considered a de-facto point guard, regardless of which position he was listed at in the starting lineup. But the arrival of Westbrook removes any facade of him being a point guard in the starting lineup, and changes how he will be used this season. While the Lakers may not be yet set on how Davis will be used in the starting lineup, when it gets to winning time, James and Davis will be the frontcourt.
With Westbrook the point guard in those lineups, James will not be able to exclusively dominate the ball this season in those closing lineups, which would explain why he would add muscle to bang with bigger forwards.
Outside of even how he may be used on the court, James getting in leaner shape is good for his longevity. James has already played an astounding 19 seasons at an elite level and staying in top physical condition will only serve to lengthen the (presumably) final stages of his career.
While it’s never hard to get excited about James suiting up in the purple and gold, seeing a leaner, more muscular version of him is another reason to be eager to see him take the court this season, whenever he does so for the first time.