The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to an abysmal 3-10 start in the 2022-23 season and while everyone wants to throw blame on certain people like Russell Westbrook and Rob Pelinka, the fact of the matter is that no one is without blame. Even the king himself, so we’re asking the question: Is LeBron James washed?
I’ve already outlined how poor of a job Pelinka did building this roster, and Jeanie Buss deserves some responsibility for that as well after giving him an extension. Darvin Ham is a first-year coach who was put in a tough situation, but at the end of the day, it’s up to him to get this team playing at a high level like he promised.
Anthony Davis has often disappeared in second halves, and Lakers role players have struggled to make open shots to help out the team’s stars.
Everybody deserves blame for this 3-10 start, and yes, that even includes James.
In the 20th season of his career, James has finally looked mortal as he is currently averaging 24.9 points on shooting 45.7% from the field, which are the lowest since his rookie year, to go along with 8.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists. He’s also shooting 23.9% from 3 and averaging 4.8 free throw attempts, the lowest marks of his career by far.
James will turn 38 next month and has accumulated over 63,000 minutes in his career when counting both the regular season and playoffs. What he has done at this stage of his career is unprecedented and that will be recognized later in the season when he breaks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.
But as we’re seeing in LeBron’s recent Nike campaign with Jason Momoa, Father Time eventually finds everyone so it begs the question…
Is LeBron James washed?
As someone who has followed LeBron every step of his career, I think the answer here is that it’s still too soon to say.
James has been so great for so long that I think he’s earned the benefit of the doubt that we can wait longer than 10 games before completely judging where his level of play is at.
Currently, though, James has not played like a top-five or even 10 NBA player. The league is flush with young talent and guys playing at extremely high levels like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, to name a few.
Those guys are all bringing it every single night and if there’s one thing I think is fair to question regarding James, it’s exactly that.
While James’ statistics are all small sample sizes and hard to really make anything of, the one thing I think we can make something of is his injuries.
Through the Lakers’ first 13 games, James has already missed three of them. He has been on the injury report all season due to foot soreness, and in a recent loss to the L.A. Clippers, he got hurt once again by straining his adductor.
A pattern emerging
These smaller, nagging injuries have become a theme for James in recent years with the Lakers, something that is not totally surprising given his age and mileage. He has dealt with groin, ankle, abdomen and foot injuries since last season alone.
As far as his play though, again, I maintain that it’s too soon to judge James. He’s still adjusting to a new roster that lacks shooting, something he has typically thrived with in his career. Even James himself has been in a shooting slump which is not necessarily attributed to age and more just a small sample.
Due to his poor shooting, James’ focus has been on attacking the basket more. The only problem is that he hasn’t been getting the foul calls he’s gotten in years past, something he has already been very vocal about. If James’ shooting can stabilize and he can get a few more whistles, I would expect James to continue being one of the best offensive players in the league when he is on the floor for L.A.
The injuries are definitely worth monitoring though as James can not help the Lakers if he is not playing. And looking at the rest of the roster, this team badly needs its biggest star on the floor as much as possible.