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NBA: Are injuries catching up with LeBron James?

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently without veteran superstar LeBron James due to an adductor strain he sustained in the defeat to city rivals the Clippers earlier this month.

James is widely regarded as one of the greatest to ever play the game and he has dominated the NBA for close to two decades.

The four-time champion is in his 19th season in the league and continues to be one of the best in the business, but after managing to stay healthy for the majority of his career injuries have started to creep in.

LeBron’s injury woes began in LA

James, 37, managed to avoid serious injury for much of his career, but during his time in with the Lakers he has had a few stints on the sidelines.

In his first season with the team, in 2018-19, James sustained the first major injury of his career as a groin injury saw him miss 17 consecutive games.

The Akron-native managed just 55 games in his first season in LA, having started all 82 regular season games for Cleveland Cavaliers in the previous season, as the Lakers missed out on the playoffs.

James bounced back in style however, leading the Lakers to a 17th championship in the following season and they are +5000 to add another title to their roll of honour this season.

The former Cavs and Miami Heat forward averaged a career-high and league-high 10.2 assists per-game during the regular season and went on to win the Finals MVP award - becoming the second oldest player in history to win that honour and the first to do so with three different franchises.

In the 2020-21 season, James suffered a sprained ankle that kept him out for 20 consecutive games – his longest spell on the sidelines of his career.

Fellow star man Anthony Davis also struggled with injury issues and the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs as defending champions.

LeBron remains a key man for the Lakers

James may have suffered with a few injury issues during his time with the Lakers and last season he was limited to 56 games, but he is still one of the most dangerous offensive players in the NBA.

In August of this year, James re-signed with the Lakers on a two-year deal worth $97.1m and the franchise clearly feel he has at least one more championship in him - but they will need to manage his fitness and game time as they are +210 to make the playoffs.

In March, James recorded two 50-point games and in doing so he became the oldest player to have multiple 50-point games in a season.

The four-time MVP averaged 30.3 points-per-game, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists last term and those figures demonstrate he is still one of the true elite players in the NBA - even if his levels aren’t quite as high as they were during his prime.

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Will LeBron be fit for the next Lakers game?

James is on course to become the all-time leading scorer in the NBA as he currently sits in second spot and is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who managed 38,3871.

The Lakers veteran is on 37,311 and could move into top spot over the winter but he is currently missing with an adductor issue.

The Lakers are next in action on Friday as they face off against Detroit Pistons and that may come too soon for James.

The team have made a poor start to the season and are 3-10, but they did manage a win over Brooklyn Nets last time out and that should ease the pressure on new coach Darvin Ham, who will have no intention of rushing James back into action.

There is a chance James could be involved against Detroit, but the team could decide further rest is required and Sunday's game against San Antonio Spurs or Tuesday's clash with Phoenix Suns are also possible return dates.

Lakers need to be smart with LeBron

James did appear almost invincible earlier in his career but as a veteran his fitness needs to be managed.

In terms of his overall performances, it is perhaps unfair to suggest injuries are catching up with the former Miami and Cleveland star, but given his age the team still need to make sure he is fully fit before he returns to action.

The Lakers may have endured a rough start to the campaign, but James is still impressing, averaging 24.9 points-per-game, 8.8 rebounds and 6.9 assists after 10 games.

Those numbers show he is still an important player and, if he can stay largely injury-free for the majority of the season, the Lakers will remain a threat in both the regular season and in the playoffs and are +2800 to win the Western Conference.

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