LeBron James: Lakers' Young Players Dealing with 'Unfair' Expectations

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 10: LeBron James #23 and Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during the game against the Sacramento Kings on November 10, 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers have failed to reach expectations this season, but LeBron James believes the problem is the team's youth. 

"You have four guys in our top eight rotation that you have to really rely on, and it's unfair to them to ask for so much when they're in their second or third year," he said Wednesday, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.

Tania Ganguli @taniaganguli

Here’s the full video of LeBron James on how youth impacts the Lakers. https://t.co/YmfTUp8IYd

The team has fallen to 30-34 on the season entering Wednesday and is now 5.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

This certainly wasn't what was expected when the team added a four-time MVP to the roster, especially with the young core showcasing its talent last season.

However, the team does rely on young players more than other playoff contenders.

Three of the top six players on the Lakers in total minutes played are in their second year (Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball). Brandon Ingram has slightly more experience in his third season, while he and Kuzma have been the only other reliable offensive weapons alongside James.

While the team expected to be in the postseason, James noted the challenges he has faced:

"It's unfair to those guys for us to continue to—we want them to learn, we want them to learn, we want them to learn—I want them to learn. But also we have to understand that they're young as well and they're going to have mistakes and they're going to make mistakes. You just try to limit the mistakes as much as possible. You look at all of the 16 teams right now, the best teams in our league right now, just look at the guys they rely on every single night to be able to come through for them. If they have a young guy it's probably one or two of them. So it's been tough on us. It's been tough on us."

Even younger teams like the Denver Nuggets or Philadelphia 76ers have more reliable veterans on the roster to help balance out the inexperience.

Although this won't stop the criticisms heading toward the Lakers, it at least provides some perspective as the team likely misses the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.