The Los Angeles Lakers went 6-11 in the 17 games they played without LeBron James, who was out with a groin injury sustained during their win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. They even dropped from fourth in the Western Conference to ninth in his absence.

The Lakers star forward has now been back for two weeks and has played in five of the team's last six games. But their fortunes have not improved much, with the team going 2-4 in their last six and for the first time since November, they are below the .500 winning percentage with a 28-29 record.

The Los Angeles franchise is in danger of missing out on the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season and James perhaps does not even remember the last time he missed the playoffs – he has made the NBA Finals for eight straight years.

James’ return to fitness was expected to see the Lakers rise up in the Western Conference again, but they have dropped a place to 10th in the last two weeks and are now 2.5 games behind the Sacramento Kings, who sit in eighth place occupying the final playoff position. James has been slowly getting back to form and recorded a triple-double with 28 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds in their latest loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night. But Chris Broussard of Fox Sports claimed the 15-time All-Star “doesn’t look like himself” in the five games he has played.

LeBron James LeBron James has played five games since returning from injury at the start of February. In this picture, James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers waits to enter the game during a 123-120 win over the LA Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Jan. 31, 2019. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

The NBA expert was uncertain if James was still struggling with fitness issues following his return from a long-term injury absence or if age was finally catching up with arguably one of the greatest players in the history of the game. James was struggling to undo the damage done during his absence, but if he did not return to form after the upcoming All-Star break, Broussard believed some of the blame should go on the three-time NBA champion.

“LeBron has been back for five games. He’s played five of the last six,” Broussard told Fox Sports Radio, as transcribed by the Express. “I don’t know if he’s not 100 percent, I don’t know if it’s age, [but] he doesn’t look like himself.”

“If he plays like the 25 games like he’s played these last five, I don’t care what the numbers say, we’re going to have to start saying, ‘Father Time is really starting to catch you.’ 

“But here’s the thing, early in the season, close to mid-way through - Christmas Day - they’re the fourth seed, 20-14, six games over .500 and they beat the Golden State Warriors,” he added. “That’s the last time this team was healthy. You can’t tell me LeBron hasn’t had an impact.”

“They lost him for 17 games, they go 6-11 and they blew it without him. It’s taking him a little while [for him] to get the bearings [again]. It’s three weeks into the return, if they get back from the All-Star break and this is going on, he’s going to have to take some blame.”