Even before more concerning news about Anthony Davis came out.
The biggest question the Lakers had was how much weight LeBron James was carrying and whether it was reasonable to demand more of him.
The Lakers and James are at a crossroads of sorts as Davis’ long-term status has become more uncertain due to the stress injury in his foot, which may require him to miss more time than the initial prognosis predicted.
The Lakers remained mediocre in the West despite Davis playing some of his best basketball of his career.
The Lakers have seen a lot of the best-case scenario come to pass:
Davis has reportedly assumed the role of the Lakers’ best player.
A consistent and dominant two-way force. Darvin Ham has demonstrated the ability to be a reliable and motivating head coach.
As the best version of himself one can reasonably expect, Russell Westbrook has embraced his role as a bench player without expressing any resentment.
And it has no bearing, even in the best-case scenario.
For Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka, that has to be horrifying and beyond sobering.
When talking about a team that is 13th in the West and behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in the standings.
It will fall more heavily on James to keep things afloat now that Davis is out for an extended period of time.
While referring to another conspicuous player, a NBA chief told Hurray Sports, “[Player] impacts winning yet doesn’t drive it.”
That last line best describes James when he is at or close to his apex. James may have been the single most important factor in recent NBA victories.
He is not the greatest or best player as a result; It simply implies that having him around raises a team’s ceiling to its highest point.
Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo appear to be the most potent winners right now.
Simply having them gives you the opportunity to go above and beyond.
As recently as 2019–20, James was in charge of that table.
He can be exceptional at influencing victory now.
As James nears the age of 38 a few days after Christmas, we are beginning to see him lose his ability to make teams competent and productive.
For the subsequent straight season, and for the majority of his experience as a Laker, it doesn’t seem James will have the Lakers climbing to serious status.
Most of the time, it’s something that has stopped James and the team from achieving their lofty preseason goals:
Prior to James’ arrival in Los Angeles, his team was truly out of the running for a championship in 2006, his third season in the league and his first experience with the postseason.
He was 21 at the time, and he put on a great two-run performance that would set the stage for the next 15 years or so:
An entertaining series in the first round against Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards, followed by a seven-game loss to the then-two-time East champion Detroit Pistons with a 3-2 lead.