Los Angeles Lakers: Absence of LeBron James has proven he’s the MVP

Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, LeBron James, Tyson Chandler, Kyle Kuzma (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, LeBron James, Tyson Chandler, Kyle Kuzma (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

With LeBron James out for the Los Angeles Lakers, it has shown the league what he means to this team.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers has missed the last 5 games with a slight groin injury and during what seems like the longest week in Lakers history, the Purple and Gold have gone a miserable 1-4. This might be the first time ever, that a player didn’t suit up during a 5-game stretch and cemented himself as the clear MVP.

On December 28th: The Lakers were up 15 points in the 4th quarter against the Kings and they lost by 1. I know that Bogdan closed his eyes (Maybe) and heaved a 32-foot prayer for the win, but the Lakers were up by 15 in the 4th!

The next day on the 29th: The Lakers were down 2 points going into the 4th quarter and they eventually lost by 11 points.

"After the game Luke Walton said, “I know it’s not going to be easy, but I believe in the guys that we have. We’ve just got to do a couple of things a little bit better.”"

Luke you’re a great coach, but seriously? A couple of things better? That 4th quarter was so bad I wanted to break my TV.

On December 31st: The Lakers got their only win without LeBron James (for an entire game) in a rematch with the Kings. The Lakers played great, but does anybody else have the feeling the Kings players were thinking about which New Year’s Eve party they were going to attend during the 4th quarter? They do live in Sacramento, but were fortunate enough to be playing in LA on the 31st.

On January 3rd: The Lakers lost to the Thunder by 7. LA was up by 4 points heading into the 4th quarter, but only managed to put up 18 during the last frame.

On January 5th: The Lakers lost to the Knicks by 7 points. The Lakers were up by 6 points heading into the 4th quarter, but only managed to put up 20 points against the 2nd worst team in the league during the final 12 minutes. The headline on ESPN was, “Ingram’s 21 points not enough in Lakers’ loss to Knicks.” That’s the understatement of the year.

The common theme among all of these losses is that the Lakers were up (or only down by 2 points against the Clippers) heading into the 4th quarter, before being manhandled during the last 12 minutes of the game.

What’s happened during these last 5 games in the 4th quarter?

The Lakers are dead last in the league in assists during the last frame through these past 5 games, with a shockingly low 3.6 assists per 4th quarter. Brandon Ingram and KCP are tied for 2nd, behind Kyle Kuzma (he only played 3 out of those five 4th quarters due to injury) in field goal attempts during the 4th quarter, but each is averaging a hilarious 0.2 assists.

Furthermore, Ingram and KCP are both averaging just about 30% from the field during the 4th quarter. Every time Ingram gets the ball during the 4th quarter and drives into 3 opposing players, and of course misses, a little piece of my Lakers heart dies.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if LeBron had been healthy these last 5 games, the Lakers would have, at the very least, gone 4-1, but in all likelihood they would have been undefeated. I don’t care if the Lakers didn’t have Kuzma (for 1 and a half games) and Rondo during those contests, with LeBron in uniform, once again, the Lakers would have almost certainly swept those 5 games, because LeBron James would have helped the whole team move the ball and actually run a real offense.

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The difference between watching the ball go through LeBron for the Lakers during the 4th quarter and seeing Ingram run the show throughout the final frame is equivalent to watching a Broadway show versus a local high school play. After watching these past 5 games it’s become clear that without LeBron James, Brandon Ingram and these Lakers would be one of the 5 worst teams in the NBA. Is there any better proof than that, that LeBron James is the NBA MVP?