Death, taxes, and LeBron James making his team into a contender are the three constants in life.
The Los Angeles Lakers started the season 4-6, and speculation and jokes flew about how LeBron James might miss the postseason to begin his tenure in the purple and gold. Since then, the Lakers have won 13 of their last 17 games, in large part due to LeBron reminding anybody and everybody he’s the best basketball player on the planet.
LeBron has been so good for so long that it’s easy to overlook his level of play, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still dominating the league on a nightly basis. James is averaging 28.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game in Los Angeles while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point territory.
No other NBA player is averaging 28/7/7 this season. The advanced numbers are fans of LeBron this season, as he’s in the top five in total Win Shares, Value Over Replacement Player and Box Plus-Minus. He’s leading all forwards in usage percentage, per Cleaning the Glass, and is in the 89th percentile in points per shot attempt in the same group.
His combination of usage, efficiency, and contributions like rebounds and assists is virtually unmatched, despite his 34th birthday coming at the end of this month. Father Time is undefeated so far, but LeBron James is giving him a run for his money.
In addition to putting up numbers, LeBron has the Lakers knocking on the door of a top-four seed in the Western Conference, which has 14 teams all honestly competing for a playoff spot. He’s doing so with very little help.
Out of all of the non-LeBron Lakers, only Josh Hart and JaVale McGee are in the top 30 percent of their position in points per shot attempt, as per Cleaning the Glass. Kyle Kuzma is in the 40th percentile in points per shot attempt among bigs, Brandon Ingram is in the 31st percentile of wings, and Lonzo Ball is in the bottom 12 percent of point guards in points per shot attempt. The young Lakers have potential, but most of them aren’t playing all that well.
None of it seems to matter. LeBron keeps on doing LeBron things and making his teams good, and these Lakers are not at their final form yet. Los Angeles is almost certainly going to make some trades before the deadline, which could make the Lakers even better. Either way, LeBron is going to continue his reign as the King.
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Measuring team greatness; Frank Urbina examines each NBA franchise’s all-time winning percentage
Tracking the young guys; Ryan Ritter keeps tabs on the Kings two rookies as they progress through their first NBA season