The Los Angeles Lakers lost their fourth straight game on Wednesday night and are 2-9 this season. To make matters worse superstar LeBron James left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent groin injury. He had 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the loss. FS1’s Shannon Sharpe believes, despite his numbers, LeBron doesn’t have the same impact as a player. But Sharpe is wrong.
“He’s in Year 20 and no player looks the same as they did in Year 5, 8 or 10,” said Sharpe. “LeBron used to be a wave, but now it’s a pebble in the ocean…LeBron is a big man and an impact player…[but] it’s taken its toll.”
.@ShannonSharpe on whether LeBron is showing his age in Year 20:
"He's in Year 20 and no one looks the same as they did in Year 5, 8 or 10. LeBron's a big man and an impact player, it's taken its toll." pic.twitter.com/zQ1sT8e3kw
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) November 10, 2022
James is averaging 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists per game this season on 49.5 eFG% and 51.8 TS% efficiency splits. Only rookie LeBron has been worse.
It’s true that LeBron’s single game plus minus from Wednesday was the worst on the team. But he is still contributing above the rate of a league average player.
The reality is, it is year 20. There is only so much he can do physically, so Sharpe is right in that sense.
But James still has influence and impact that is still the huge tidal wave in the ocean.
LeBron is still the biggest star in the game and arguably the biggest athlete in the world. He is the sun inside the Lakers organization that all the other people must revolve around.
This has not been a very good leadership season for him. He and Anthony Davis seem checked out and disconnected from their teammates. You don’t see players picking each other up, supporting or playing with any level of joy.
Losing obviously makes it hard to have a joyful environment, but team chemistry is a fragile thing in the NBA. As the Lakers leader it’s on LeBron to take the direction from head coach Darvin Ham and breathe spirit into the hearts and minds of the players on the floor.
The roster has issues, but this is the roster LeBron put together. Kendrick Nunn hasn’t played basketball in over a year. He needs to time to get his rhythm and confidence back. Thomas Bryant and Dennis Schröder are out. Patrick Beverley is adjusting to a role, as is Russell Westbrook.
New and disparate parts need time to coalesce. That is where leadership comes in.
“It’s easy to be great when things are going great,” James said. “But being able to keep your head above water when things don’t look so great or the sun don’t seem like it’s shining much upon you … you know, how you can stay into the fight, stay into the fray. I’ve always said, leadership is not … you don’t get to pick if it’s going to be a Tuesday and Thursday that I want to lead. No, it’s every single day. You might have your moments; I mean, we’re human. But for the majority of time, you’ve got to be able to first take accountability of yourself, and then hopefully, it trickles down onto everybody else.”
This sounds like leadership from LeBron in speech, but for the Lakers it hasn’t been there in practice.