LeBron’s 21st season – What to expect from King James and the Lakers in 2023-24

Dave McMenamin: LeBron James and the Lakers Look Ahead to Year 21

Dave McMenamin is an ESPN Staff Writer. This article was published on October 16, 2023, at 08:00 AM ET. It is a 7-minute read.

After playing for seven different teams in his eight NBA seasons, Christian Wood was determined to make a strong first impression with his eighth team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Just before the team’s training camp, Wood arrived at San Diego State’s practice facility hours before the scheduled meeting time.

“I tried to be one of the first ones in the gym,” Wood told ESPN. “I think it was about 7 a.m., 7:20.”

The first person he saw was LeBron James, already drenched in sweat.

“He already beat me to it.”

LeBron James, 38 years old and about to start his 21st season with his third different franchise, has overcome obstacles big and small throughout his career. From his humble beginnings in Akron, Ohio, to dominating opponents on the court, James has repeatedly surpassed expectations and proven himself as one of the greatest players of all time.

Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown, who coached James in Cleveland, marvels at his longevity. “For him to go [21] straight years is ridiculous,” Brown said.

Despite injuries in recent years, James has shown he still has plenty of gas in the tank. Last season, he surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer and led the Lakers to the Western Conference finals. Now, as he enters his 21st season, here are five things to consider:

1. The Lakers will manage James’ minutes to keep him fresh. While he played fewer minutes last season compared to the previous year, he still played a significant amount. The Lakers have incorporated rest days into his training camp and preseason schedule to ensure he is ready for the regular season.

2. James is closing in on several records. He is just 1,348 points away from reaching 40,000 career points in the regular season. He is also chasing Oscar Schmidt’s international scoring record of 49,737 career points. Additionally, James has the opportunity to move up in several all-time NBA lists, including minutes played, triple-doubles, regular-season wins, free throws made, and steals.

3. James is defying expectations with his production at this stage of his career. He is only the sixth player in NBA history to reach his 21st season or beyond. The previous players in this exclusive club averaged a combined 29.0 points per game in their 21st season, with James averaging 28.9 points last season.

4. James is excited about the Lakers’ roster. He praised the team’s offseason moves and the addition of players who can contribute from beyond the arc, improving the team’s shooting, which was a weak point last season.

5. Finally, James believes his mindset and health are crucial for his continued success. Keeping his mind fresh and staying in top physical condition are key elements for maintaining his prime performance.

As LeBron James enters his 21st season, there is no doubt that he is ready for the challenges ahead. With his determination, talent, and experience, he will continue to leave a lasting impact on the game of basketball.


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