The last two seasons for LeBron James have featured MVP-level performances when he’s on the court. In 2020-21, he was firmly in the debate for the best player in the league halfway through the season. This past year, he nearly led the league in scoring in one of the most prolific offensive seasons of his career.
But perhaps more notably, both seasons featured injuries to LeBron that cut his year short. In total across the two seasons, LeBron played 101 of a possible 164 games. While he’s still defeating Father Time, the margin of victory has gotten smaller and smaller each year.
It makes sense, then, that one of Darvin Ham’s main priorities as new head coach is to preserve LeBron. At his introductory press conference, Ham spoke about his focus with LeBron this season.
“Just maintenance,” Ham said. “And he’s done a phenomenal job his entire career taking care of his body and spending the resources and providing himself with the right people around him to make sure he’s able to sustain the type of level you seen him play at even to this day. Not just Bron, but AD, Russ, our entire group, we’re really, really player health conscious.
“We’ll get with the performance team, build out a plan for everybody and, again, the plan is to get stronger as the season gets longer. That’ll be my No. 1 goal is to try lessen some of the wear and tear on LeBron because I feel like he’s shown that level he’s playing at is not going anywhere anytime soon. I just want to try to help assist him with being able to sustain that level.”
LeBron has repeatedly spoken about being against minutes restrictions and load management, but considering how each of his last two seasons have ended, and three of his four in Los Angeles — with him on the bench, injured — one has to wonder if he’s open to making some changes.
The fact remains that the Lakers will only be competitive if LeBron and Anthony Davis are healthy, regardless of Russell Westbrook or a solid supporting cast’s presence on the roster. LeBron’s health should be one of the top priorities for the Lakers moving forward as preserving him is essential to preserving any hope of winning another title.