In his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James wasn’t able to end the team’s six-year playoff drought, and with only a few games left in the regular season, he might not even be able to match the team’s win total from last season. Despite this, James’ former teammate and good friend Dwyane Wade doesn’t think James’ first season is L.A. was a complete failure.
In fact, Wade told Shams Charania of The Athletic that, individually, James had a season that most players can only dream of:
LeBron’s dealt with a difficult first season in Los Angeles, at least on the floor. How have you analyzed his year?
LeBron’s not a guy that is accustom to losing and not making the playoffs. Obviously, man, those 18 games that he was out hurt with them, it’s kind of a wash. You can’t even really talk about him not making the playoffs, because of that. They was the fourth seed when he went out. It’s unfortunate.
People are trying to attack him a lot from the standpoint of age. It’s no secret that he’s getting older, he’s going to get older every year. It’s no doubt that you’re not the same person you was, but he’s still great. If this is a bad year for him — this is a bad year for him? MVP’s get this kind of year. He’s had an MVP-type of year. I think he understands the scrutiny that comes with being LeBron James. Whether he comes out and talks about it or not, he’s driven by something different. That’s why he’s so great. He helps ratings for TV. He knows that. It doesn’t stop nothing. He continues to approach the game the way he approaches it.
Having a year out there in the Western Conference, it is tough. You can’t miss time, you can’t miss games like he missed. So hopefully, going forward, he doesn’t have that.
It’s true that James has had an outstanding season with the Lakers in spite of the team’s success, or lack thereof.
Through 53 games with the Lakers, James is averaging 27.5 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting from the field, including 33.8 percent from behind the arc on a career-high 5.9 3-point attempts per game. James is doing all of that while also averaging the fewest minutes per game of his career. The 27.5 points per game he’s averaging is ranked fourth in the league, trailing only Stephen Curry, Paul George and James Harden.
James is also averaging 1.3 steals, 8.6 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game, which is ranked sixth in the NBA. Here is the full list of players averaging at least 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game:
- LeBron James
- No. 23 on the Lakers
- Son of Gloria James
- The No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft
- LeBron James Jr.’s dad
James is 34 years old and second among active NBA players in career minutes played, for those keeping track. He’s good. However, whether he was good enough to merit MVP consideration this season is up for debate.
For the first time since the 2014-15 season, James isn’t ranked among the top-10 in win shares, according to Basketball Reference, and for the first time since his rookie season, he’s not in the top-20. While injuries might have played a part in that, Curry is still ranked in the top-20 despite missing 12 games this season. The same can be said of Kawhi Leonard, who has missed 20 games this season.
Was James as good as advertised for the Lakers? Absolutely, but he was an MVP-type player? Probably not. But he’s still really, really productive, which is worth noting amidst all the noise this season has generated.