LeBron James has always been one of the most durable players in the league, but as he enters his 17th NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are already planning to make sure he stays fresh for not only the regular season, but also what they hope will be a long playoff run.
Following the second day of practice on Sunday, coach Frank Vogel spoke to the media about how the team plans to limit LeBron’s action in the preseason. Via ESPN:
When asked how much he figures he’ll play James, entering his 17th season, during the Lakers’ six-game exhibition slate, Vogel said, “not a ton.”
“We want to be intelligent,” he continued. “We want to get him enough reps to get him familiar with his teammates and get everybody on the same page, some cohesiveness. But certainly going to be intelligent and not overdo it in the preseason.”
This makes plenty of sense because he’s now 34 years old, but it’s especially important considering he registered career lows in games played and minutes per game last season. Due in large part to a groin injury suffered on Christmas, LeBron played just 55 games and averaged 35.2 per contest.
Even with some new pieces on the roster, there’s no reason to play LeBron any more than is necessary for him to start to get back into game shape. Any more than that is just wasting extra miles on his legs and opening up more chances for injury.
Speaking of those new pieces, Vogel also mentioned that he’ll do his best to make sure LeBron and Anthony Davis are playing together during training camp in order to maximize the minutes those two are on the floor. Things are apparently already going well on that front, as they reportedly “dominated” scrimmages on Sunday.
There’s really not too much to take from that considering the talent gap between them and the rest of the Lakers’ roster, especially with Kyle Kuzma out injured. It would be bigger news if two of the best players in the league weren’t dominating scrimmages against their teammates.
It’s definitely not a bad sign to hear that they’re already meshing well; even as talented as those two are, there’s always going to be a learning curve when two superstars team up, and even more so when they’re both used to having the ball as much as LeBron and Davis are used to having it.
Still, it’s best to wait until we see them in action against some real competition to start forming any serious opinions about how this partnership is going to work. The good news is we won’t have to wait long for that first test, as they’re set to take on the Golden State Warriors in preseason action on Saturday.