Despite LeBron James’ stretch of MVP-level play, Lakers fail to compete and win

What LeBron James is doing this season for the Lakers, especially over the past few games, should warrant serious MVP consideration. Not to mention, the 2021-22 season being his 19th year in the league after all the playoff miles on his body. 

However, he isn’t in the top five of NBA.com’s latest MVP Ladder and isn’t even mentioned on Basketball Reference’s MVP tracker with the top 10 candidates. That’s almost entirely because the Lakers have failed to win games and in some cases, even look competitive. 

Since Anthony Davis injured his MCL in Minnesota, which ruled him out for a period between four-to-six weeks, James has been putting up superhuman numbers but it hasn’t impacted the Lakers’ results. 

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To be precise, in six games, LeBron is averaging 34.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks on shooting splits of 57.0 percent from the field, 40.4 percent from beyond the arc and 81.8 percent from the free throw line.

James has scored 36 points or more in three of these six games, and most recently in Memphis on Wednesday night, he knocked down eight 3-pointers, which tied a career-high. 

The 1-5 record, despite those numbers, is a testament to their team’s flawed roster construction which has looked worse with their early-season injuries and recent absences due to the league’s health and safety protocols. 

I say “flawed” because of the team’s heavy reliance on a player that’s set to turn 37. Here’s a look at their final possession from their game against the Grizzlies on Wednesday:

Through these six games, the Lakers have only sat James for a total of 63 minutes and they have suffered a drubbing in that time span. 

The team registers an offensive rating of 80.3 with James on the bench, setting up a horrendous net rating of -37.5. Those numbers look very, very different with James on the floor – a 113.4 offensive rating and -1.5 net rating.

The Lakers will return back to Los Angeles for a five-game homestand, starting with a matchup against the Trail Blazers on Friday, Dec. 31.