NBA Analyst Concerned with Los Angeles Lakers’ Reliance on LeBron James, Shares Frank Vogel’s Praise of Wesley Matthews

Published 02/11/2021, 5:30 AM EST
Feb 8, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo (6) in the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-A TODAY Sports


The Los Angeles Lakers have had a strong start to the season. Currently, the team has the second-best record in the NBA with 20-6, just one game behind the Utah Jazz. LeBron James has been crucial to the Lakers’ success so far, playing high minutes and putting on MVP performances night after night.

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But are the Lakers over-reliant on LeBron James?

Los Angeles Lakers happy with Matthews

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NBA and Lakers analyst Mike Trudell spoke to the Lakers Film Room podcast recently. He revealed the praise that Frank Vogel had for the Lakers’ player Wesley Matthews. Vogel considered Matthews crucial on the defensive end of the court, especially in the absence of Alex Caruso. Matthews has proved his value since joining the Lakers in the off-season.

“Frank Vogel said this last night when asked on postgame about Matthews – ‘incredible energy on both sides of the ball, but particularly defensively, you need as many guys as you can to contain the basketball and two of our best containment guys, with AD and Alex being out, we definitely needed his toughness on that side of the ball’.”

Trudell then noted that Alex Caruso is crucial to the Los Angeles Lakers’ success. While Caruso’s numbers may not stand out in any form, it is the work he does off the ball that makes Caruso invaluable to them. Caruso’s presence on the court, especially on the interior, allows the team to stop some of the more explosive players on the opposition teams.

He said, “So that’s part of the point of the story and why Caruso being out is a bigger deal sometimes than he might be given credit for in the box score because that’s part of why are these guys getting to the rim all the time. Part of that is because you don’t have dribble containment from the perimeter that Caruso is so great at, just cutting that off.” 

Lakers depending on LBJ too much

Trudell also noted that Caruso’s absence was felt as the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Caruso would’ve been key in stopping someone like Hamidou Diallo. Furthermore, Trudell questioned whether the Lakers’ dependence on LeBron James is a concern.

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Dec 25, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) defends Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) as he drives to the basket in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

“He’s moving his body in the spot that Hamidou Diallo wants to drive into and you’re not even seeing him get to the rim because of that. I think that those issues in part get solved with him in the lineup, and my more global concern, if it’s a concern, is the Lakers in spots once again relying on LeBron James to get them through a win in the middle of the season.”

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Can the Lakers continue playing well without depending on LeBron James? James has been the MVP of the Lakers so far this season. But at his age, the Lakers should not be risking him so much. Currently, the Lakers are the favorites to win the NBA championship. LeBron James’ performance in the playoffs would be key to their championship hopes.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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