Los Angeles Lakers: Should LeBron James and Anthony Davis be load managed?

Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images /

As load management becomes more popular, should the Los Angeles Lakers get on the bandwagon and consider doing this for LeBron James and Anthony Davis?

The era of load management is upon us and it has drawn divisive opinions from all walks of NBA fandom, especially Los Angeles Lakers fans.

Old heads argue that they themselves had to play 82 games, 40 minutes per game every season, and if they could do it, there’s no reason why players today can’t. The other side argues that load management, the new term for rest, will increase player health in the long-term, lead to fewer major injuries, and will overall create a better product on the court in the games that matter the most, the playoffs.

To be fair, resting players isn’t some newfound practice, as teams like the San Antonio Spurs have been load managing their players for the better part of fifteen years. It’s just that the practice has become more popular in recent years, with its popularity reaching peak levels with last year’s Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard.

It can be argued that the team’s management of Kawhi’s workload in the regular season was a major factor in the team’s postseason success.

This is where the Lakers factor into this discussion. Their two superstar players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are prime candidates for the team to consider putting on a load management schedule.

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James has long had a reputation for being one of the league’s ironmen and has played more minutes than anyone these past ten years by a large margin. However, just because he’s been able to do this, doesn’t mean that he should continue, as those miles catch up eventually, even for LeBron.

Davis has had a reputation for being an injury-prone player. However, his recent injury history isn’t as bad as you would think, as Davis has played in 75 games his last two healthy seasons, not counting last year where the team forcibly sat Davis due to ongoing trade discussions. But still, Davis has had a propensity in the past to get random, ticky-tack injuries that sideline him for short periods of time.

As of right now, Anthony Davis and LeBron James are both averaging around 35 minutes per game, which is a little bit on the higher side, but still not totally crazy compared to league leaders such as Fred VanVleet, James Harden and Damian Lillard, who are hovering around the 37-38 minute per game range.

Should James and Davis be on a load management schedule? The answer is yes, but not to the degree that players like Kawhi have undergone in the past. LeBron has stated before that it’s not about minutes played, but rather games played that factor into his fatigue, so the team should be wise to keep the 35-year-old fresh whenever possible for the playoffs.

The case for Davis may be less so, as he is still a young buck, at only 26 years old, but the same principle should apply. Given the fact that he’s a big man, and is subject to more wear and tear, the team should be looking to load manage him as well. With the Dwight Howard redemption tour in full swing, he provides a great backup for the Lakers when they decide to rest Davis.

Replacing LeBron’s production will obviously be more difficult, but Vogel has shown so far that he can make adjustments when necessary, so it shouldn’t be too hard to revolve the offense around Davis, instead of LeBron, as it would make sense to rest either player and not both at the same time.

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The bottom line is that this team is built for the playoffs, and if their success in that area means taking a few losses here and there when the team is load managing LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so be it.