It’s time for the Lakers to reduce LeBron James’ minutes

The incredible level of play that LeBron James has been serving up lately may be starting to fade.

He shot 11-of-25 on Wednesday in a 116-111 loss to the Sacramento Kings, and although the Lakers came from behind to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, he went just 8-of-21.

In Friday’s contest, he appeared to be tired for much of the second half, and if he is tired, there is a very likely reason why – he has been playing heavy minutes.

Over his last nine games, James has logged 37.8 minutes per game, which is seventh in the NBA during that span. For the season, he is averaging 36.3 minutes a contest, which is 11th.

Given that he is 38 years of age, in his 20th season and has played over 53,000 regular season minutes over his career, the Lakers need to start conserving him.

Ideally, they would get him down to about 32-34 minutes a game, and that extra rest would compound over time and make a difference in how he feels in the fourth quarters of games.

All head coach Darvin Ham needs to do is take him out for his usual rest each quarter about 30 seconds of game time earlier, and then bring him back into the game about 30 seconds later.

Another by-product of doing so is that James’ teammates would be forced to step up offensively for a few more possessions a game, particularly men such as Dennis Schroder and Lonnie Walker IV (when he returns from injury), the team’s most capable scorers other than him, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.

All too often, James, Davis and Westbrook have been the team’s only reliable and aggressive scorers.

Having others step up in multiple facets of the game would also allow the four-time MVP to get more rest while on the court.

With Davis apparently nearing a return and the team nearing a very challenging five-game road trip, now is the time for Ham to make this move for the good of his team.


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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire