The Los Angeles Lakers were unable to get vengeance for the Western Conference Finals on Opening Night as the team came up short against the Denver Nuggets. While the Lakers competed throughout the game, the team ultimately proved that it still isn’t on the Nuggets’ level.
There was a lot of great basketball played for the purple and gold and a lot of bad basketball. The most impressive player for the Lakers was LeBron James, who looks way better than any basketball player should at the start of his 21st season.
As great as LeBron looked, he actually didn’t see the floor that frequently. James didn’t even crack the 30-minute mark as Darvin Ham played him for 29 of the 48 minutes. This made a big difference as the Lakers were +7 when LeBron was on the court and -19 when he was off the court.
When asked about LeBron’s workload after the game, Ham doubled down and confirmed that the team would be cautious with LeBron’s minutes throughout the regular season. According to Ham, this is what Lakers fans should expect out of LeBron this season.
That sounds like a great plan in theory to keep LeBron fresh. However, it isn’t the plan that LeBron wants to abide by. LeBron told reporters after the game that he wanted to be on the floor more but there is a system currently in place that he has to follow.
LeBron James and Darvin Ham are already disagreeing about his role on the Lakers
We are one game into the 2023-24 season and there is already a public disagreement between Darvin Ham and LeBron James. It did not take long for that to happen and hopefully, it is not indicative of what is to come throughout the season.
LeBron did clarify that he was not upset or surprised by his playing time as he knew beforehand how much he was going to play. While he may not have been upset or surprised, he obviously still disagreed with the decision and wanted to be out on the floor more.
While LeBron definitely has leverage and can dictate a lot of things in Los Angeles, this is something that Ham cannot give up any ground on. If the Lakers are going to make any kind of run this season they are going to need a healthy LeBron. The last thing the team needs is LeBron on a bum foot because he was overplayed in the regular season.
Los Angeles had to overplay LeBron out of necessity in the past. That is no longer the case with the team having an incredibly deep roster. LeBron may want to be out there an extra five minutes each night but those five minutes add up. There is no need to add an extra 400 minutes on LeBron’s plate this season.
In a perfect world, LeBron will come around to his role with the team and it won’t be a point of contention in the future.