Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has made the All-NBA third team, according to the results of media voting released by the league on Thursday morning. James received 13 second team votes, and 72 third team votes. James has now tied Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan for the most All-NBA selections ever:
This is James’ 15th consecutive year making an All-NBA team, but his first time on the third team. This is also the first time since the 2006-07 season that James did not make the first team.
James — still among the best players in the league — getting honored isn’t a complete shock, but it was in doubt on some level due to a few factors that it seems he was able to overcome in the eyes of voters. For one thing, the Lakers missed the playoffs, which is always a possible ding on a players’ All-NBA resume, and James also played in just 55 games — the fewest of his career.
Still, when James was on the floor, he certainly posted All-NBA-caliber production, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 35.2 minutes per game. James also shot 51 percent from the field, although that was his lowest field-goal efficiency in four years. Additionally, the Lakers were 7.9 points per 100 possessions better when James played than when he didn’t — the highest swing of anyone on the team to play in more than six games — a testament to his value even while hampered for the second half of the season.
James was also hardly to blame for the majority of the Lakers’ struggles, as his groin injury — the most serious injury of his career to date — is mainly what derailed the team’s season, not some lack of stepping up from James. Him making the third team in spite of missing so much time is evidence of the voting bases’ respect for James’ stature in the game, as well as how much he was able to impact the Lakers while on the floor while still recovering from his lengthy absence. Next year will be the real test case for if this was just a brief dip in James’ ascent towards greatest player ever status, or the start of a real decline. The Lakers have to be hoping it’s the former.