LeBron James needs to get back in the Lakers’ lineup to win scoring title

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If LeBron James doesn’t make it back in at least some of the season’s remaining games, he may not win the scoring title after all. 

As the NBA season approaches a close, certain unknowns come into focus. There’s still a battle among big men for the MVP candidacy, and there are a few teams battling for play-in spots, but the leaders have emerged throughout the course of the season.

Among them is LeBron James, the league’s leading scorer who could make NBA history with another scoring title—but none of that is going to happen if LeBron doesn’t recover from his recent ankle injury.

The injury could affect more than the Lakers’ play-in position: if James does not play in at least 3 of the Lakers’ 7 remaining games, he will no longer be eligible for the scoring title this season.

LeBron James could miss scoring title with ankle injury

Per NBA rules, “players must play at least 70 percent of a season’s games in order to be eligible for the scoring title.”

In an 82-game season, 70 percent would be 58 games—and LeBron has only played 55 games. As opportunities diminish in the final weeks of the season, LeBron could lose eligibility for the coveted scoring title from injury alone.

The only way that an NBA player could circumvent this statistical minimum is if their average points per game leads the league through the course of the 58 required games, which James’ average would not. James’ 1,657 points, divided by 58, would be 28.6 PPG, which is not enough to win the title—now.

If LeBron wanted to stay ahead in the scoring title race, he would need to average at least 27 PPG in his next three games to beat out potential MVP winners like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.

It’s bad news for James, who has been ruled out against the Utah Jazz in the Lakers’ March 31 matchup.

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