What's WRONG With LeBron James In The NBA Restart? (Ft. Lakers, Defense, & Pain)
LeBron James has not been himself in the NBA restart, and the Lakers have looked different. So what’s wrong? #LeBron #NBA #Lakers
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After a 4 month break, LeBron’s body is not in playoff mode and so in these 8 games, he has to ramp it up to that level, but doing it too fast could result in injuries which is exactly what Bron said. This is where LeBron’s age comes into play. At 35, it’s already insane to be able to play at the level Bron has, but that comes with being more meticulous in preparation.
That could lead to a lack of aggression that we’ve seen from LeBron. LeBron not shooting well is not the concern, his shot can come and go. The focus is more on what LeBron is creating. Now let’s not get it twisted, LeBron averaging 19 points and 7 assists is still amazing by most standards, but we are comparing Bron to himself. At times, that first step just seems slow and the defense ends up staying in front of Bron or on his hip without him ever being able to turn the corner. Of course these teams have great defenders, but that’s what the playoffs are gonna be too. And even when there isn’t a great defender, Bron sometimes doesn’t even try to drive like right here. It’s times like these where it just seems like LeBron doesn’t have his legs underneath him. Comparing this to highlights a few months ago, LeBron in almost every typa of situation meaning from the top of the key, fast break, outta the post, would beat his man and have a head of steam into the paint. Even in the game against the Jazz in which he shot 56% from the field, he still wasn’t blowing by people you would expect, like here, Joe Ingles is able to cut LeBron off which leads to this really good pass, or even here, LeBron doesn’t get by Niang and take a stepback jumper that he airballs. LeBron’s only been to the free throw line 11 times in 3 games, he’s just getting stopped.
There’s actually a lot more times that LeBron is being slower, slithering through a pick and roll. This can work at times, but is not when LeBron is at his most effective. On the upside, in the game against the Jazz, there were more times LeBron was able to blow by his initial defender, like here even if he did miss. Or look at these two identical situations with LeBron on the baseline. In one, LeBron drives and beats him man. In the other, Bron doesn’t even try to drive.
The Lakers also are all outta sorts some possessions, like when LeBron pretty much holds on to the ball trying direct traffic for the entire possession, or here when Kuzma just dribbles the ball for 15 seconds without getting anywhere getting locked by Fred VanVleet and losing the ball. Dang it Kuzma.
Let’s also look at Anthony Davis. AD was uber aggressive in the Jazz game, he took 14 shots in the first quarter alone to make up for that Raptors game. But the one thing with AD is that even without shooting well, he was still getting to the line. The LeBron AD connection was also sorta shut down in the Raptors game, but a lot of that depends on Bron putting enough pressure on the defense which he didn’t.
At times against the Raptors, LeBron seemed like he didn’t even wanna try to get past the defense. And I get that, Siakam and OG were hounding him, but that’s not gonna cut it if Anthony Davis was also off. But in the game against the Jazz, both Anthony Davis and LeBron James made it a priority to be more aggressive. And AD was a monster. LeBron is still capable, it’s more of whether he’s there mentally and physically.
I’m going give LeBron a lot of credit defensively though. He has been active on that end despite a few lapses in rotations. He’s taken one on one defense much more seriously, he’s not overly quick on that end, he’s just being smart and using his experience to really bother defenders like he did with Kawhi and Paul George.
So a lot of this stems from LeBron literally not being LeBron. This is very reminiscent of LeBron in February, March 2018 or when LeBron came back from a groin injury last year when playoff mode was activated and went downhill. Teams are playing higher intensity than the start of the regular season, but Bron seems stuck in that easing in mode. Does that mean he can’t change this? Heck no. LeBron has other gears, he just has to find them in time for the playoffs which is less than 2 weeks away. LeBron will get better overtime. The real question is whether he’ll be ready in time for the playoffs. I think he’s gonna be playoff LeBron by the second round, but what do you think? Will LeBron be all good by then? Who’s been the best team in the bubble so far?