The Los Angeles Lakers are now 1-2 in games that LeBron James has missed this season. That amounts to a .333 winning percentage, which is better than the .200 winning percentage the team has in games that he’s appeared in. Long story made short, the Lakers are better without LeBron than they are with him.
Of course, I’m joking. If there’s ever been a misleading small-sample-size statistic, it’s that one. And besides, it turns out that although The King has missed the last two games due to the groin aggravation he sustained this past Wednesday against the Clippers, he’s still found ways to make sizable impacts on the team’s ability to win basketball games.
Patrick Beverley illustrated this in the locker room for the Spectrum SportsNet crew after Sunday’s win vs. the Nets, saying LeBron led the team vocally in what may have been their best practice of the season on Saturday.
“We had a phenomenal practice — probably one of our best practices — yesterday. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to LeBron. He started to get on guys in the right way, and guys in the locker room responded. So credit to his leadership. Obviously, there are things you guys don’t see in the locker room. But he was a big voice in practice yesterday that kind of led over to our energy, game-planning, and focus for this game today.”
Pat Beverley credits LeBron's leadership and a good practice session after win over the Nets. pic.twitter.com/NmAGNbwX22— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) November 14, 2022
Obviously, it shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone to learn that LeBron has been vocally flexing his leadership muscle, especially with this team full of unproven role players that have little-to-no playoff experience.
Still, it’s encouraging to hear that LeBron put a stamp on the Lakers' “best practice” of the season, as it shows that he’s not mentally done with this team despite the 2-10 start coming into Sunday’s win.
LeBron’s vocal leadership was complemented nicely by Anthony Davis’s leadership that came in the way of destroying any Brooklyn Net in his path on Sunday. He ended the game with 37 points on 25 field-goal attempts, adding in 18 rebounds with 10 of them coming on the offensive glass.
All of the above combines to give Lakers fans some optimism, as it shows the team’s two best players haven’t given up on this team yet. Moving forward, Davis will need to continue those types of performances — while the Lakers will, of course, need LeBron to get healthy and return to the floor. Luckily, the Lakers have four days off between Sunday’s win and their next game vs. the Pistons on Friday.
Hopefully, that will be more than plenty of time for LeBron to get ready, an idea further strengthened by the fact that Darvin Ham called the decision for LeBron to sit out Sunday more “precautionary” than anything truly serious. In addition, Dennis Schröder and Thomas Bryant could make their season debuts if their Thursday evaluations go well.
Then — and I’m sorry if you’ve heard this one before — maybe the Lakers could combine their superstars’ play as well as improving health to go on a bit of a run.