That’s terrible news for a team with realistic championship aspirations because they look lost without him.
The four-time NBA champion may not be the leading scorer on his team anymore.
LeBron James enjoying a courtside seat with Kevin Hart and Rich Paul as the second half gets under way. pic.twitter.com/gtDakNENS9
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 9, 2021
However, he’s the glue guy that holds everyone accountable and makes their roster work.
Without him, they look like players who are not aware of their teammates’ strengths.
While the season barely started, James is the most valuable player for the Lakers.
Losing him for an extended period might sink the team’s ship further.
LeBron The Utility Man
James’ role is not to score heavily anymore because that’s Anthony Davis’ role.
Carmelo Anthony can also rack up points off the bench.
He does not need to facilitate most of the plays because that’s Russell Westbrook’s role.
But he’s still the commander that plugs the holes in their game.
The four-time league MVP can score, pass, defend, and motivate depending on what’s needed.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 3, 2021
That’s what the Lakers missed against the Portland Trail Blazers.
It was a team that they should have no problem defeating, given that they have the superior roster.
However, the Lakers lost by 15 points, and five Blazers scored in double figures.
The margin could have been worst if CJ McCollum tallied more than seven points.
Westbrook was supposed to take over in that game when Davis made an abrupt exit due to a stomach illness.
Anthony Davis will not return tonight 🚨🚨
🤕 The reason: Stomach illness🥱(got pooped vs Portland Trail Blazers 🤣💩)
🤔 His stats tonight:
→ 2 points in 8 minutes 🥶🥶
→ 1/5 FG 🧱🥴 (20%)
→ 0 defensive rebounds ☠️⚰️ pic.twitter.com/o8hTj1mDqD
— Paralytics NBA (@ParalyticsNBA) November 7, 2021
LeBron would shift his role from decoy to the primary scorer if he were on the floor.
Unfortunately, Westbrook failed to take advantage.
The 2016-17 MVP finished with eight points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
That’s a far cry from his usual triple-double in a game wherein he must have been more aggressive.
The Lakers bench outscored the starters as five reserves had double figures.
Where Is The Defense?
Frank Vogel’s team did bounce back against the Charlotte Hornets.
However, they won by only three points and gave up 123 points to their opponents.
The Lakers also needed an extra five minutes to get their sixth win in 11 games.
Westbrook came alive with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists, while Anthony added 29 points.
Melo comes up CLUTCH 🥶
Lakers pull out an OT win over the Hornets pic.twitter.com/ShyCMeFdWl
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 9, 2021
Davis recovered from his illness to collect 32 points and 12 boards.
The game wouldn’t have reached overtime if they played defense.
James would constantly enforce that mentality and berate teammates who lost their man.
The Lakers Must Turn Things Around
They have a smoother flow with James on the floor.
Without him, the offense looks forced, while the lack of defense is appalling.
As veterans, they must find a way to address these concerns while James recuperates from injury.
They’re just 11 games into the season, giving them plenty of time to mesh together if they are willing to talk things out.
.@KendrickPerkins was HEATED watching the Lakers lose to Portland on Saturday 😅
"I was watching the game with my two oldest sons, and I made them go to bed early because I didn't want them picking up on bad habits."
(via NBA Today) pic.twitter.com/A2xCO3cdxP
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 8, 2021
A team of their caliber must not be hovering above. 500.
But that’s where they are now, and they don’t look consistently devastating.
Remember that this roster is more of an experiment of putting some older stars with big egos together.
Given that they are a championship or bust squad, they must know how to put their pride aside.
If their chemistry does not improve while James is out, the Lakers are in for an uphill climb to make the playoffs in a highly-competitive Western Conference.