LeBron James was intentionally limited to just 29 minutes in the Lakers' season-opening loss, utilizing a 'load management' strategy.



LeBron James was intentionally limited to just 29 minutes in the Lakers’ season-opening loss, utilizing a ‘load management’ strategy.

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The Los Angeles Lakers employed a fresh “load management” approach for LeBron James in their season opener against the Denver Nuggets, limiting his playing time to 29 minutes. Head coach Darvin Ham revealed that this deliberate move was part of their strategy for the game, and it could become a trend for the remainder of the season.

The NBA introduced a new load management policy in September to curb the practice of resting star players, which had become an issue in recent years. Teams that rest a designated “star player” in violation of the new rule can face fines ranging from $100,000 to as much as $1 million for subsequent violations.

Star players are defined as those who have made the All-Star team or were named to the All-NBA team in the last three seasons, which includes LeBron James. However, James, as one of the seven players in the league who qualify for an exemption, is older than 35 and has accumulated more than 34,000 regular-season minutes. To be eligible for the NBA’s season-long awards, James must play in at least 65 games.

The Lakers have opted to rest the 38-year-old James in specific situations in recent seasons due to his injury history and advancing age. It is a strategic decision aimed at preserving his health, given the demands of the fast-paced, younger league.

However, with the implementation of the new load management regulations, the Lakers appear to have discovered a method to safeguard James’ well-being while ensuring his presence on the court.

Credit By: ca.sports.yahoo.com

Despite his limited playing time of 29 minutes in the Tuesday night game, James still led the Lakers with 21 points, shooting 10-of-16 from the field. He also contributed eight rebounds and five assists. Although the Lakers reduced the deficit to a single possession early in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets pulled away to secure a 12-point victory, powered by a triple-double performance from Nikola Jokić.

Throughout his career, James has maintained an average of 38.1 minutes per game. In his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he held the league’s highest average of 42.4 minutes per game, and only once has he fallen below 34 minutes per game. Consistently dropping below 30 minutes per game, although still a commendable figure, represents a significant change.

If this approach ensures James’ fitness throughout the season, prevents the Lakers from incurring fines, and enables him to play the entire season, it could be the optimal course of action. However, whether this strategy leads to success on the court remains to be seen.




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