One year after leading the league in minutes played, LeBron James finds himself with a new team that his different aspirations. The Lakers lost their season opener to the Trail Blazers, but James helped the cause, posting 26 points and 12 rebounds.
In typical James fashion, he played for 37 minutes — he played in a league-best 36.9 minutes for the Cavaliers last season. As Lakers head coach Luke Walton explained, the team signed the four-time MVP to a four-year deal and want to maximize his contributions.
“We want to make sure we’re not only playing at our best come the end of the season but that he’s fresh,” Walton said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “And that’s a goal for us. And it’s a goal that we’re on a journey and it’s not a one-year journey. We’re continuing to try to and be our best season by season, but also as each one goes on.”
Not only did James lead the league in minutes, but he also played in all of Cleveland’s 82 regular season games — the first time he did so in 15 NBA seasons. While his performance never fell off, the Lakers expect to play at a fast tempo and monitoring the 33-year-old will be key.
“We want to play fast, and to do that we got to get guys in and out and in and out,” Walton said. “So we’ll get a good amount of guys out there.”