Los Angeles Lakers: Is it time for LeBron James to consider load management?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

Pros of load management

Number One

This season, LeBron James looks indestructible, almost inhuman, but he’s a real man with real miles on his legs. Before LeBron joined the Lakers, he played in eight straight finals, exerting himself as hard as possible over and over again.

We all know what happened to Kobe Bryant in 2013 after he pushed his body too far. At the age of 34, he played at an MVP level, while averaging 39 minutes per game. But in one crushing second, he tore his Achilles, basically ending his brilliant career and sending the Lakers organization into a six-year tailspin.

We also witnessed the stunning demise of the Golden State Warriors during the playoffs last season. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both went down with devastating injuries within weeks of each other after making deep playoff runs over the previous six seasons.

The more a player strains his muscles and ligaments throughout the season without allowing for proper recovery time, the easier it is to get hurt. All it takes is one awkward landing on tired legs for LeBron to go down, ruining the Lakers championship aspirations.

If LeBron James starts to rest throughout the second half of the season, it will decrease the chance of him suffering a significant injury this year.

Nothing I said above is revolutionary, LeBron’s Staples Center co-tenant, Kawhi Leonard is the most famous load management specialist in America. Everybody involved with the Lakers understands that LeBron is getting older, and he’s played a ton of minutes throughout his career, so he must rest to decrease his chances of sustaining an injury.

That’s what makes this situation worth mentioning because it feels like Frank Vogel, Jason Kidd, and the rest of the Lakers coaching staff have become so bewitched by LeBron’s greatness that they’ve forgotten the bigger picture; nobody in LA cares about regular-season success. Lakers’ fans only care about championships.

Number Two

When LeBron James sits, it will force the rest of the Lakers players to step up. This year, the Lakers have been overly dependent on LeBron James on offense. When James is on the court, the Lakers have a net rating of +15 points, and when he’s on the bench, the Lakers get outscored by almost 3 points.

Everyone on the Lakers has slid flawlessly into their role on the court. LeBron runs the show. Anthony Davis shoots from every level of the floor. Danny Green and KCP are three-point specialists. Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso, and Dwight Howard are primarily defensive mavens. JaVale McGee’s a rim runner. Kyle Kuzma provides scoring off the bench. And Rajon Rondo provides secondary playmaking.

The Lakers have racked up wins during the regular season based off of LeBron and AD’s greatness and because every other player has fallen in line. However, guys like Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can do more.

Kuzma’s shown during his starts for the Lakers that if given the opportunity, he can score at will. Rajon Rondo’s still one of the best playmakers in the NBA. And KCP’s mid-range game has improved.

If LeBron starts to take games off, it will give the other Lakers players a chance to break out of their prescribed roles and expand their games. That will pay dividends in the playoffs against teams that have up to seven games to devise different ways to stop LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Lakers are going to need Kuzma, Rondo, and KCP at their very best to win a championship this season.