The Lakers’ Load Management Plan!
Last night’s blow out win over the Washington Wizards should be the Lakers’ Load Management plan for LeBron James and Anthony Davis
What we witnessed last night in the Lakers’ blow-out win over the Wizards was the perfect load management plan the Lakers need to keep superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis fresh and healthy for the NBA playoffs.
The dominating win over Washington allowed LeBron James and Anthony Davis to skip the fourth quarter and rest while logging just 24.6 and 27.4 minutes respectively versus their usual 34.8 and 34.5 minutes per game. While LeBron and AD are not fans of missing games for load management like Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers clearly would like to limit regular season minutes and workload to keep their superstars healthy for the playoffs.
The obvious answer is for the Lakers to get valuable load management time off for LeBron James and Anthony Davis by blowing out teams with losing records like they did last night against the hapless Washington Wizards. That’s a load management plan James and Davis as well as Lakers and NBA fans everywhere would gladly support versus having superstars take off entire games like Kawhi Leonard has already done five times this season.
“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” LeBron James told ESPN as he knocked on the wooden façade of his locker after the Lakers’ beat the Miami Heat on November 8th. “That’s what has always been my motto.” Anthony Davis feels exactly the same, making it clear he intends to be on the floor every night. “If I can play, I’m going to play. I’m 26 years old and love the game of basketball. I’m ready to play. I’m playing” Davis said.
While Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Frank Vogel would like to use load management to keep LeBron James and Anthony Davis fresh and healthy for the playoffs, they’re not going to force them to take time off. Instead, they’re going to stagger their minutes on the floor to limit total minutes played, allow them skip certain practices to conserve energy, and try to blow out other teams so LeBron and AD can take off fourth quarters.
Looking at December, the Lakers play 14 games, including 10 on the road and 4 at home. They play 8 games against teams who have top-ten records, including the Mavs and Nuggets twice and the Bucks, Jazz, and Heat once. But they also play 6 opponents against whom they should have a chance to use load management to limit LeBron’s and AD’s minutes, including the Trailblazers twice and Timberwolves, Magic, Hawks, and Pacers once.
After a healthy, rested Kawhi Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship last year, load management has become a hot topic in the NBA, with the Clippers already mimicking the Raptors’ Kawhi strategy. The Clippers are committed to protecting Kawhi’s arthritic quad and knee by not playing him in back-to-backs and giving him days off to replicate the Raptors’ success in keeping Leonard fresh and healthy for the playoffs.
The result has raised concerns by the league, especially as the NBA is off to a slow start in the ratings with viewership down 18%, with injuries, poor matchups and schedule, and the demise of the Warriors cited as reasons. The last thing the NBA needs right now with potential loss of fans in China due to the Hong Kong conflict is to have fans refusing to tune in to regular season broadcasts because of superstars sitting for load management.
The good news is, unlike the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis have never suffered a serious major injury and do not want to sit out entire games for load management. That means the Lakers’ load management plan must include dominating the lessor opponents on their schedule to keep superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are fresh and healthy heading into the NBA playoffs.
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