Forward LeBron James’ first season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t go according to plan due to injuries.
However, legendary Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is confident that James will bounce back for the 2019-20 season, while noting that the team’s chemistry and depth serving as major factors in the year ahead.
Abdul-Jabbar was interviewed by Mark Medina of USA Today on a number of different topics, concerning both the Lakers and the NBA at large. One of the Lakers-related questions concerned his expectations about James, with his answer a positive one that was dependent upon other factors.
“I think LeBron will have a good season,” Abdul-Jabbar responded. “The groin injury was unfortunate. It all depends on how they intend to play and how much depth they have around him. LeBron and Davis are two good guys on the court working together. It’s unfortunate that DeMarcus Cousins couldn’t uphold his end of it physically. He’s had too many problems. But when he played with Davis down in New Orleans, they were pretty much simpatico. That would’ve been a really good match. I felt sorry for him in that sense.”
James’ groin injury limited him to just 55 games last year, the fewest in a season during his 16-year career. His absence left a gaping hole in the Lakers offense, which resulted in the team failing to reach the postseason for the sixth season in a row.
James largely matched the statistical numbers he had put up during the final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017-18. Finishing with per-game averages of 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1.3 steals. He had three games in which he scored 40 points or more. That trio of performances was topped by his 51-point effort against his other former team, the Miami Heat, on Nov. 18.
Abdul-Jabbar remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points during his legendary career. That puts him 5,844 points ahead of James in that category.
If he remains injury-free for the next three seasons, James will likely surpass Abdul-Jabbar’s imposing total during the 2021-22 campaign. However, for this season, James is on target to surpass another Laker legend in the same area, Kobe Bryant, who is currently 1,100 points ahead of him.