Since the Lakers have been eliminated from play-in contention after losing to the Phoenix Suns on April 5, shutting down LeBron appears to make sense. The four-time MVP finished his 19th season exceeding his career averages in points and rebounds with 30.3 points and 8.2 rebounds. He also had 6.2 assists per game.
When Slam Magazine tweeted LeBron’s stats, he responded with his own tweet and sent a message to his followers:
As good as LeBron was on offense, some fans don’t believe he “gave everything” he had on the other end of the court.
Fans Question LeBron’s Defense
LeBron has made six All-Defensive teams during his legendary career, but he won’t make one this season since he wasn’t an elite defender.
The four-time Finals MVP had the lowest defensive win shares of his career (2.3), which is why fans questioned his Twitter message.
On offense, LeBron ended the season 0.1 points per game behind Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who is averaging 30.4 points. Since he played in only 56 games, the star swingman can’t qualify for the scoring title.
If LeBron had won the scoring title this season, he would have been the oldest player in NBA history to do so. However, with two games left and the Lakers out of contention, chasing a scoring title on a bad ankle might not have looked good.
The Lakers’ offseason will be fascinating to track. With LeBron under contract for one more year, general manager Rob Pelinka will be under pressure to put together a winning roster.
What Changes Will Lakers Make?
Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey wrote on March 14 that he believes the Lakers should try to trade Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick to the New York Knicks for Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier and Alec Burks.
“For the Lakers, this deal almost certainly improves their chances to compete. At least according to box plus/minus, all three have been better than Russ in 2021-22,” Bailey wrote. “This doesn’t make L.A. any younger, but they’d be deeper and have more shooters (with Fournier and Burks) to deploy around LeBron James. While you might think a partnership with him and Rose might have some of the same problems as this year’s LeBron-Westbrook pairing, Rose has shown more of an ability to defer to a ball-dominant forward, as he’s done with Julius Randle in New York.”
LeBron will be 38 next season, his 20th in the league, and though he put up extraordinary numbers this season, it seems an “identity shift” — one in which Davis, who is only 29, is at the center of the team — is the best chance for the Lakers to recover their championship form.