LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have played well to start the season. The Lakers are 11-4 on the year, which is good enough for the best record in the league. This is even more impressive considering that the Lakers have not even reached full strength yet this season.
The team has benefitted from some easy games to start the season but they have made the most of them. The Lakers were riding a five-game winning streak prior to Sunday’s loss in which they blew out four of their last five foes.
They seemed to be on the way to another blowout win against the Golden State Warriors but instead blew a lead and lost to Stephen Curry and co. That is what happens when both LeBron James and Anthony Davis score less than 20 and combine for only 36 points. The Lakers are 0-4 in such games.
LeBron and Davis have — predictably — seen a dip in their total output as a whole this season. We all knew this would happen as the Lakers were coming off of the shortest offseason in NBA history and the M-O for the team is simply getting to the NBA Playoffs with both superstars at 100%.
LeBron is playing the fewest minutes per game of his career (32.6) while Davis is playing the fewest that he has played since his rookie season (32.3). Both players have seen a dip in their per-game averages from last season with Davis’ usage rate down almost 4%.
This is nothing to be worried about. Again, it is by design and these two are still top-five players in the league and at some point, they are going to ramp it up. For LeBron James, we are going to see the first waved “ramp-up” of the year in the next several games.
Why LeBon James is going to go on a nice run for the Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are entering the toughest stretch of games to date and it presents the perfect chance for LeBron James to pick up the workload a tad and prove that he is still the best basketball player on the planet and that he should be considered for MVP.
The Lakers are going on a seven-game road trip which starts with the Milwaukee Bucks. In that road trip, the Lakers have notable against teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and even the Atlanta Hawks.
The other games present a chance for LeBron to rack up the stats against lesser teams. Chicago has taken a step forward this season but is still not as talented as the Lakers, Detroit is the worst team in the league and Cleveland presents the chance for LeBron to ball out in his hometown yet again.
The games against the playoff-caliber teams are what is going to mostly drive LeBron to take it up a notch, though. While the Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the league, they have not done well against legitimate playoff teams.
The team’s four losses are against the Warriors (seventh seed in the West), Spurs, Trail Blazers (sixth seed in the West) and the Clippers (third seed in the West). Their best win this season is probably against the Mavericks, who have started really slowly this season.
This is a chance for the Lakers to make a statement and that statement starts with LeBron. Much like last March, LeBron is going to come into these games with something to prove and is going to do just that.
I predict that these dominant runs for LeBron will come in waves. He will enjoy a dominant five-game stretch, return to a lesser output (which is still fantastic, don’t get me wrong) before having another notable stretch later in the season, perhaps again in early March.
Then, as we get close to the playoffs, we will likely see LeBron unleashing not only to lock up the number one seed but to get in playoff form. Between that run, another (predicted) dominant run in March and this current stretch, I think LeBron James is going to do enough to win the MVP award for the fifth time.