6. LeBron’s minutes are must-wins for the Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are 1-1 after a daunting opening two games against the defending Champion Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. Following their 12-point loss to the Nuggets, the world was doused in flames when it was revealed that for the entire season, LeBron James would be on a minutes restriction of sorts.
LeBron played exactly 29 minutes against the Nuggets, and the Lakers were plus-seven in his time on the court, meaning they were minus-19 in the 19 minutes he sat. In their game against the Phoenix Suns, the same pattern emerged. The Lakers were plus-22 with LeBron on the court and minus-17 when he sat. The only difference was he played 35 minutes, and the Lakers secured a five-point victory.
The Lakers are in a tough position. The Western Conference is absolutely brutal top to bottom, and they need to win every game possible, but LeBron is in year 21 and realistically shouldn’t play 35 minutes a night. The Lakers need to win their minutes with LeBron on the court in a big way and pray they don’t get blitzed when he sits. Right now, they’re being outscored by 1.125 points every minute he sits. If that keeps up, either the Lakers will falter, or LeBron will be pushed to the physical brink.