On March 22nd, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The loss officially eliminated the Lakers from NBA playoff contention. After their last game of the season, Lakers’ forward LeBron James will find himself in an unfamiliar place. For the first time since 2006, James will not make a playoff appearance. His early off-season also means he will not compete in the NBA Finals after an unprecedented eight straight appearances. What does this mean for James? Does missing the playoffs hurt his legacy? How will this impact the Lakers going forward? Let’s explore the effects of James missing the playoffs.
Showtime Shutdown: No Playoffs For LeBron James
LeBron Can Finally Rest
Although James would rather be competing for a title than going on vacation, missing the playoffs could be a blessing in disguise. As mentioned before, James has played in eight straight NBA Finals. He has made it to the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons, making it to the second round, at least, every time. In total, James has played in 239 post-season games. This season, James has struggled to stay healthy. He missed 16 consecutive games this season due to a groin injury. The Lakers have monitored his minutes since his return. The number of games is catching up to James. He can finally get the rest he needs. He can use the off-season to recuperate and get back to full health. Despite showing signs of aging, James still posted incredible numbers this season. A fully-rested James will put the NBA on notice next season.
Building a Contender
Failing to reach the playoffs is certainly a disappointment for the Lakers. They have plenty of work to do over the summer. Eight players on their current roster a set to become free agents. The notable names include Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee. The Lakers must decide on who to keep. Also, the Lakers are due to be big players in free agency. Top free agents will be on the market this summer such as Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Kyrie Irving. All four of those names have been linked to the Lakers’ plans throughout the season. Also, the Lakers will have a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. They could use that pick as trade bait. In order for the Lakers to sign a big name, they must get their affairs in order. The top of the organization needs to show togetherness and decide on whether or not they want to move forward with current Head Coach Luke Walton.
The expectations placed onto James are astonishing. Everyone expects nothing less than greatness when it comes to James. Missing the playoffs this season is very surprising in most eyes. Almost everyone in the NBA world expected James to lead the Lakers back to the playoffs. But for various reasons, the Lakers failed to make their goal into a reality. James has been blamed as one of the reasons for this failure. People have questioned his commitment to basketball. However, James missing the playoffs should not bring any questions to his legacy. It is unfair to criticize him in this sense. Both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan did not reach the playoffs at the end of their careers and did not receive as much criticism over their last few seasons. James’ legacy is already cemented. He will remain as one of the greatest NBA players to have ever lived.