A recent report indicated they plan on managing LeBron James’ minutes more than they have in the past, and they ended up playing him just 29 minutes on Tuesday. Head coach Darvin Ham said afterward that the superstar playing around 29 minutes a game will be a trend, although he also said the team will take things day by day.
Darvin Ham says "in all likelihood, yes" when asked if the 29 minutes LeBron played tonight will be a trend this season.
As he has said in the past though, he emphasized that managing LeBron's workload will be a "day-by-day" thing.
— Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand) October 25, 2023
In the 2021-22 season, James played 37.2 minutes a game, which was his highest figure in that category since the 2016-17 campaign when he turned 32 years of age.
He is now 38 and about two months away from his 39th birthday, and due to the incredible amount of wear and tear he has accumulated over 20 previous seasons, he has a finite amount of energy.
The high workload he carried last season might’ve been a little too much for him. He had problems with both of his feet, and he ended up suffering a right foot injury in late February that cost him a month of game action. Even after he returned, he lacked some of his trademark explosiveness in the open court, although it looks like he has gotten it back.
Versus Denver on Tuesday, James shot 10-of-16 from the field and scored 21 points. Several times, he turned on the jets, exploded in transition and scored at the basket. Almost all of his point production came in the paint.
Injuries could be the only thing that prevents the Lakers from making a serious run at the NBA championship this season. They have a very deep roster around James and Anthony Davis, and their 3-point shooting seems at least somewhat improved. However, they made just 34.5 percent of their attempts from deep on opening night.
With a reduced workload, James should be able to turn in his umpteenth season of elite basketball.