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) /
3 of 4
Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Cons of load management

Number One

LeBron James is the leader of the Lakers. The Purple and Gold have built the best record in the Western Conference, behind James’s brilliance on the court. Yet just as importantly, because of his off-court leadership.

LeBron James, one of the most knowledgeable players to ever suit up, has stayed entirely concentrated during Frank Vogel’s famously long video sessions. LBJ’s focus has pushed every other Lakers player to also pay attention to the minute details that win games.

LBJ’s also been a practice hero, playing hard during training sessions and giving Frank Vogel his full respect when he’s critiqued him. LeBron’s unmasked compliance has given Vogel the added authority to criticize any Lakers player and push them to do better.

LeBron’s fantastic work ethic has trickled down to every other man on the Lakers because when you see the best player in the NBA entirely focused on each aspect of the game, whether it’s film study, defensive drills, or live contests, it pushes you to do the same.

If LeBron starts to take games off, it will mentally chip away at his teammate’s psyche. There will be a small letdown because they’ll see their leader is no longer pushing as hard as possible.

Tiny disenchantments might seem like a non-issue, but in a league like the NBA, full of gifted players, the smallest issues can mean the difference from taking home a chip or walking away empty-handed.

Look at the Clippers this season. Nobody doubts their talent. But, LA’s other team is in fifth place in the Western Conference, and they’ve looked out of sorts lately, even when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are on the floor. Often they don’t play as a unit, and they get lazy on defense.

Has Kawhi Leonard’s load management affected his teammates? Have they seen the way he takes games off, and in an inverse of LeBron’s inspiration, stopped working as hard as they can? We’ll never know for certain, but one thing is for sure, everyone takes on their leader’s personality, even if it’s just a little bit.

Number Two

The Milwaukee Bucks are one game up on the Lakers in the loss column. If LeBron James starts load management, it will be much more difficult for the Purple and Gold to catch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference.

Giannis and the Bucks are a great squad. If the Lakers do end up meeting Milwaukee in the NBA Finals, home court advantage will help. Historically NBA home teams win 64.5% of their contests. That’s a significant edge.

If the Lakers lose a tightly contested seventh game on the Bucks home floor because LeBron rested during the second half of the season, we’ll all look back and wonder what would have happened if the Purple and Gold had entered the finals with home-court advantage.