LeBron James is slowly entering the twilight of his career, even if he is playing like a top-five player in the world yet again. James has been on a tear all season long, averaging 25.0 PPG, 10.8 APG, and 7.8 RPG while leading the Lakers to the number one seed in the West. Most importantly, he has been the leader and most consistent performer for the Lakers who are possibly the favorites to come out of the West.
Unfortunately, this means that there is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of 35-year old LeBron James. He is playing a ton of minutes per game for his age and has played more minutes than many star players who are younger and can handle the beating far better.
LeBron James is playing more minutes per game (34.9 MPG, 1850 total) than 10 other young NBA players. Check the list.
10. Anthony Davis
34.7 MPG – 1665 minutes played
To kick it off, James plays more minutes than his partner and superstar teammate Anthony Davis. Davis was supposed to come in and play the most minutes, score the most points, and be the best player. But that hasn’t happened, as James has played more minutes than Davis and is often the player who has to come up big most often when the team needs it.
AD has been a monster, no doubt about it, but the fact that LeBron plays more minutes is very surprising.
9. Andrew Wiggins
34.4 mpg – 1617 minutes played
Wiggins has not gotten off to the best of starts since joining the NBA, but he seems to be on the right track especially by being traded to the Warriors. Wiggins is clearly a younger and more athletic player than James at this point and should be able to handle 38+ minutes per game with ease.
Somebody with the athleticism and build of Wiggins should be playing more minutes than a 35-year old LeBron James, but he’s not. James not only has to be the best player on his team but okay the bulk of the minutes as well. Wiggins seems to have it pretty easy so far!
8. Zach LaVine
34.6 mpg – 2009 minutes played
Another young player, Zach LaVine is developing into a very good player. He can shoot better than Wiggins and seems to fit the modern style of NBA play better. LaVine is a key player for the Chicago Bulls who probably will want to hold onto him since he can play major minutes and averaged 20 points a game.
LeBron still plays more minutes than LaVine, and the Lakers are actual contenders, unlike the Bulls.
7. Jimmy Butler
34.4 MPG- 1616 minutes played
Another surprising fact, Jimmy Butler plays fewer minutes than LeBron James. Butler went to Miami to not only be the man on the team but bring a spirit of work ethic and hustle every night. Butler has certainly done that since the Heat is a big problem in the East, but that doesn’t mean he is required to play as many minutes as LeBron James.
Despite the fact that Butler doesn’t have much All-Star help outside Bam Adebayo, he has played less than LeBron James.
6. DeMar DeRozan
34.1 mpg – 1842 minutes played
DeMar DeRozan is a very good player who can score at will, and he should be playing heavy minutes to get an average Spurs team to the Playoffs. While DeMar is doing the best he can give the team’s style of play and relatively average teammates, it hasn’t led to much success for San Antonio.
Yet, LeBron James plays more minutes than DeRozan who is still in the prime of his career and one of the top shooting guards in the NBA. This goes to how much LeBron James means to any team he plays on.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
33.9 mpg – 1187 minutes played
That’s right, LeBron James plays even more minutes than big KAT. He is by far the best player on the Timberwolves and is the cornerstone player for a franchise hungry for playoff contention since the Kevin Garnett days.
KAT has done his part, by leading a very poor Timberwolves team through turbulent times until they finally acquired star talent in D’Angelo Russell to play alongside him. The fact that LeBron James plays more minutes than a much younger KAT is astonishing.
4. Kyrie Irving
32.9 MPG – 658 minutes played
LeBron’s former teammate, Kyrie Irving, has managed to log fewer minutes than LeBron James despite being the only healthy star on the team (no knock on Spencer Dinwiddie). KD is out for the entire season, and the Brooklyn Nets will be lucky to even make the playoffs as a result.
Kyrie should be playing heavy minutes trying to sustain a short-handed Nets team and get them to the playoffs, and he has done his part when he has been healthy. LeBron James, a much older player, has logged more minutes on a championship contender than Kyrie has with Brooklyn. GM Sean Marks confirmed Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the season.
3. Luka Doncic
32.8 MPG – 1477 minutes played
Shockingly, Doncic actually plays fewer minutes than LeBron James. Doncic is only 20 years old and is a whopping 15 years younger than James. Still, he doesn’t have the workload that LeBron has to carry on his shoulders on a nightly basis.
The Mavericks are surprisingly a playoff team, and Doncic is simply the reason why. He does it all on the floor, including scoring the ball and being the primary playmaker, and many feel he has the heaviest workload of all NBA superstars. This is further from the truth, and the fact that LeBron plays more minutes is something that needs to be addressed.
2. Kawhi Leonard
32.6 MPG – 1400 minutes played
Mr. Load Management and reigning Finals MVP himself, Kawhi Leonard, plays fewer minutes than LeBron James. Leonard is the best player on the Clippers, and the fact that he has a tremendous supporting cast with the likes of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell makes it reasonable that Leonard doesn’t log as many minutes as James.
Still, the fact that James is playing more than the reigning Finals MVP says something about LeBron’s MVP value.
1. Kemba Walker
32.2 MPG – 1481 minutes played
The Celtics have been great all year, and Kemba is a major reason why. His production has been consistent since he’s been in the league, and has managed to replace Kyrie Irving as the number one offensive option in Boston at times. As a matter of fact, the Celtics are playing better with Kemba as the main man instead of Kyrie.
It’s no wonder why Kemba plays a ton of minutes every night since Brad Stevens trusts him to perform at a high level in crunch moments. Still, Kemba does not play as many minutes as LeBron James despite being younger with a desire to prove he can be a star of a championship team. LeBron once again plays more minutes than a younger star player in the league.