When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this past summer and no other star free agent joined him, it became clear that the 2018-2019 NBA season could be his toughest year in quite some time. As we head into the All-Star break, that’s been exactly the case for the league’s top superstar.

With a 28-29 record, the Lakers are the No.10 seed in the Western Conference with less than one-third of the regular-season remaining. It marks the first time that James’ team has been under .500 this late into a season since he was a rookie.

James and the Lakers looked like they might actually be on their way to exceeding expectations and hosting a first-round playoff series when they beat the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. The win over the defending champions, which improved Los Angeles to 20-14, came at a price as James suffered a groin injury. James went on to miss the next several weeks, and the Lakers quickly plummeted in the standings.

Things haven’t been much better since James’ return. The Lakers have gone 2-3 with their best player back on the court.

It would be dumb to count James and the Lakers out of the playoff race just yet. If the three-time champion comes back at full strength after the All-Star Game, Los Angeles would arguably still have to be favored to reach the postseason.

No matter what happens over the next few months, this season is almost certain to go down as one of James’ worst years in the NBA.

James entered the 2018-2019 season with several personal streaks that have put him among the best basketball players in history. Many of them are in danger of ending in his first year in L.A.

NBA Finals appearances

James essentially decided to end his streak of eight straight trips to the NBA Finals when he joined the same conference as the Warriors. The 34-year-old went 3-5 in the finals as he split eight seasons between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. Maybe if James has a second straight historic postseason, he can lead the Lakers to a few series wins, but L.A. wouldn’t stand a chance in a seven-game set with Golden State. If Los Angeles squeaks into the postseason as the No.8 seed, the Lakers might not even win a single playoff game.

Playoff appearances

There was a debate this summer regarding whether or not James would make the playoffs in a deep Western Conference. It seemed like that might not be a problem until James got hurt, and now the Lakers will need playoff LeBron to show up early. James failed to reach the postseason in his first two years, but the NBA playoffs have featured James in each of the last 13 seasons. The Lakers are two games behind the Sacramento Kings for the No.9 seed, and the Los Angeles Clippers are three games ahead of James and Co. for the No.8 seed.

LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers watches the ball during the first half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on January 31, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

Top-5 MVP finishes

LeBron James hasn’t been the NBA MVP since 2013 when he won the award for the fourth time in five years. Even though it’s been a while since he last won the award, James’ continued presence in the MVP conversation is just one reason why he’s been the league’s consensus best player. Over the last 13 years, James has never finished worse than fifth in the MVP voting. He’s been fourth or better 12 times, and last year’s second-place finish gave him 10 seasons in the top-three. Because of the time he’s missed and the number of strong candidates, it’s hard to believe James will get many top-five votes this year.

At least 45 wins

No matter what his supporting cast looks like, a team with James is usually good for at least 45 wins. His teams have reached that number in all 13 playoff seasons, and they only failed to reach 50 wins in the 2011-2012 lockout-shortened season and the 2007-2008 season. Even when Kyle Korver was arguably his second-best teammate a year ago, James dragged Cleveland to 50 wins. It would take a remarkable 22-3 finish for the Lakers to reach 50 wins this season. Going 17-8 to get 45 wins won’t be easy, either.

Regular-season games played

Prior to this season, James had never played fewer than 69 games in a non-lockout season. We already know he won’t reach that number now that he’s missed 18 contests because of the groin injury. Even matching the 62 games he played in the 66-game season is no guarantee. James played all 82 games for the first time last year, and he suited up for at least 74 games in all but two seasons.