James' first year with the Lakers didn't go according to plan. Los Angeles missed the playoffs, and the 16-time All-Star missed 27 games. He strained his left groin in December 2018, a problem that continued to linger until the team shut him down last March.
The 2019-20 campaign has been a return to form for James, who is at least in the conversation for his fifth MVP based on his performance so far. He's averaging 25.5 points, 10.6 assists and 7.7 rebounds through 54 games.
According to NBA.com, the Lakers have been 12.9 points worse per 100 possessions with James on the bench.
Los Angeles acquired Anthony Davis in the offseason, and Davis has met expectations upon his arrival from the New Orleans Pelicans. The team will need to lean on the All-Star forward, who the Lakers listed as probable for Thursday, even more with James out of action.
The Lakers are clearly worse off without James. But they hold a five-game lead on the Denver Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference, and the playoffs will be their bigger concern. As long as LeBron doesn't miss an extended stretch, his absence won't derail L.A.'s season.