LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers came into the 2021-2022 season with high hopes of getting back on track to find the same success they found in 2019-2020.
After making a questionable, but splashy trade to acquire Russell Westbrook during the offseason, the Lakers believed they boosted their team’s chances of becoming championship contenders once again.
While injuries affected them throughout the season, even a healthy Lakers team realized that nothing was going as planned. Late last week, the Lakers found themselves from the outside looking in at the NBA’s Play-In Tournament.
With a matchup against the Phoenix Suns earlier this week, the Lakers were one loss away from locking themselves out of the Play-In Tournament, destroying their chances of making the playoffs this year.
After falling short to the Suns, Los Angeles realized their fate. Now, their key stars are bagging it up for the year, including LeBron James, who’s been dealing with an ankle injury for quite some time now.
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Call it a Season
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, LeBron James will miss the remainder of the Lakers’ season. He is expected to make a full recovery.
While being ruled out for the rest of the season sounds dramatic, James will only miss two more games. The first takes place on Friday night at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The second and final game will take place on Sunday night on the road against the Denver Nuggets.
After that, the Lakers will embark on a critical offseason as they are expected to make a coaching change and significant roster changes.
How Does LeBron’s Absence Affect Joel Embiid?
Despite the Lakers’ team struggles this season, LeBron James has had quite the year from a personal standpoint. In 56 games, James averaged 30.3 points, which places him near the top of the scoring rankings for the 2021-2022 season.
The only guy in front of him is Sixers center Joel Embiid. Earlier this week, Embiid surpassed Milwaukee Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo and James after back-to-back 40-plus point outings.
Following Embiid’s 30-point outing on Thursday night in Toronto, the Sixers’ big man remains the NBA’s scoring leader as he’s averaged 30.4 points in 67 games. With two games left for the Sixers, Embiid has a good chance of winning the scoring title, which would be a critical achievement for his MVP campaign.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.