Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James dealt with an ankle injury last season that held him out for a large portion of the regular season, and the Lakers struggled without him.
Those struggles led to Los Angeles picking up the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and it was eventually eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
However, that hasn’t stopped general managers and coaches around the league from wanting to have James over any other player in a winner-take-all game, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
“He’s still LeBron,” Lowe wrote. “He takes care of his body. A lot of GMs and coaches — maybe most, maybe half or a smidgen lower considering [Kevin] Durant’s last calendar year — would draft him No. 1 for a winner-take-all game. But it might be time to apply the ‘if healthy’ qualifier here, too.”
Durant and the Brooklyn Nets were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, but the Brooklyn superstar had multiple memorable playoff games with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup and James Harden nursing a hamstring injury.
There always will be a debate about who is the best player in the NBA, but James’ resume speaks for itself.
The four-time champion went to the NBA Finals in nine out of 10 seasons before the 2020-21 campaign, and he is looking to lead the Lakers back to the NBA Finals in the 2021-22 season.