"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.
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."
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.