The Lakers might have had a thoroughly disastrous season as a franchise in 2021-22, but very little of that fell at the feet of LeBron James. The King continued defying Father Time all season long, piecing together one of the greatest scoring seasons of his career.
James was rightfully recognized for his performance this year by being named to the All-NBA First Team, the league announced on Tuesday.
The 2021-22 All-NBA Third Team:— Cody Taylor (@CodyTaylorNBA) May 25, 2022
-LeBron James (L.A. Lakers)
-Chris Paul (Phoenix)
-Pascal Siakam (Toronto)
-Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota)
-Trae Young (Atlanta) pic.twitter.com/R9D1ZkkV4I
James received a pair of First Team All-NBA votes as well as 35 Second Team votes. He was named on 54 Third Team ballots to finish 15 points behind DeMar DeRozan for the Second Team All-NBA forward spot.
It’s the 18th All-NBA honor for James during his career. His rookie season stands as the only year in which he was not named to an All-NBA team. It’s the second All-NBA Third Team selection with the other coming in his first season in Los Angeles when the Lakers also missed the playoffs.
This season, James averaged 30.3 points per game, the second-highest scoring average of his career and one of only three times in his career that he’s cleared the 30-point-per-game mark for a season. The caveat is that he only played 56 games this season, a growing concern in recent seasons for James as his availability has been limited.
But when he was on the court, he was spectacular, particularly late in the year. As the Lakers’ season was slipping away, James did all he could to salvage something. Over his final 11 games, LeBron averaged 36.2 points per game, shooting 54.3% from the field in that span while hitting 40.2% of his 3-pointers.
In that span was a pair of 50-point games, first a 56-point win over the Warriors before his 50-point showing against the Wizards a week later. It was LeBron at his best, but it came with multiple caveats.
For one, the Lakers were just 4-7 in that aforementioned 11-game span as they, realistically, wasted away an MVP season from LeBron. The other issue was that those 11 games LeBron played came in a span of 15 Laker games in total as he missed time all season long, eventually playing just two of the final 10 games for the purple and gold.
While those are both questions for the future, the present was superb for LeBron and he rightfully keeps his spot as one of the league’s best players. Father Time will likely catch up to LeBron at some point, but the fact we can’t say that with certainty further shows why he’s one of the greatest to ever lace them up for both the Lakers and the league as a whole.