LeBron James playing point guard long-term is not a recipe for success for the Los Angeles Lakers according to ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins.
“LeBron James playing the point guard, that’s not gonna be sustainable,” Perkins said. “… D’Angelo [Russell] gotta find it within to pick up the pace. They play too slow. No easy baskets for Bron or A.D. (Anthony Davis). And that’s why they miss a guy like Dennis Schroder. We forget what he brought to the table on both ends of the floor. But those guys just gotta play, man. They gotta elevate their game.”
With Russell not performing up to par before becoming sidelined with an injury, the job of running the offense has fallen to James. The 39-year-old is certainly capable of doing so, but it likely isn’t optimal over the long haul, as Perkins pointed out.
The Lakers entered this season planning to limit James’ minutes and workload in his 21st NBA campaign. That has not been the case, however, with him appearing in 31 of their 34 games so far and averaging more than 34 minutes per contest.
In fact, the superstar played in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday despite dealing with flu-like symptoms and an early-morning arrival caused by travel. Despite that, James was able to score 34 points in a 129-109 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans one night after he put up 26 points in a 108-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Those two defeats are part of a stretch in which the Lakers have won just three of 11 games since claiming the first NBA In-Season Tournament championship on Dec. 9. James put a lot of effort into that competition as he looked to add the unique accomplishment to his legacy. He also garnered the first MVP award for the tournament.
Since then, Russell’s struggles led to him being replaced in the starting lineup by Jarred Vanderbilt. With Schroder no longer on the roster after he left this past offseason as a free agent signing with the Toronto Raptors, the Lakers are thin at the point guard position.
The recent slump has dropped the Lakers’ record to 17-17 and raised some questions about the future of head coach Darvin Ham. Betting odds on who might replace Ham were leaked last month, and Perkins added that Ham needs to share in the blame for the recent tough times.
Los Angeles is back in action Wednesday against the Miami Heat, starting a stretch of nine of their next 10 games at Crypto.com Arena. It could wind up being part of a defining month for the Lakers this season.