In the final weeks of each of the last two seasons, the Lakers have largely been without LeBron James and Anthony Davis while the team was in desperate need of a playoff push. Injuries have proven a foe the pair haven’t been able to better in that span as their follow-ups to the title-winning season have been rather tame.
Newly-installed head coach Darvin Ham is focused on changing that. As the saying goes, the best ability is availability, and Ham is certainly aware that he needs his stars on the court at the end of the season to not only make a playoff push but to have any hopes of postseason success.
“I don’t need Bron or AD playing playoff minutes in October, November, December,” Ham said. “Once we establish our rotation, looking for different ways to minimize the load on their bodies, whenever possible. And again, being mindful of practice times, practice duration, game schedule, being strategic in that area as well. So we just feel good about where they are today. And to continue keep putting healthy days together as much as possible is at the top of the list, top priority, but we’ll manage them well to make sure that they’re getting stronger as the season gets longer and they’re hitting on all cylinders at the right time of the year.”
To further the point about their lack of availability, last season from March 1 until the end of the season on April 10 — a span of 22 games — LeBron and AD played a singular game together for 31 total minutes. In 2020-21 over the final month and a half of the COVID-shortened season, LeBron and AD played 84 minutes together across four games over a span of 25 contests.
That means in those 47 games in the final weeks of their respective seasons, of a possible 2,256 minutes, LeBron and AD played 115 together, about five percent of the total minutes. When the team has needed a playoff push, those two have been sidelined.
For those reasons, Ham, his staff, and the trainers employing a plan to keep the pair healthy and available is imperative for this upcoming season. Getting LeBron and AD themselves to buy into might take some convincing but given how unavailable the duo has been in recent seasons, it doesn’t feel like it should be a hard sell.