LeBron James will turn 33 years old on Dec. 30 as the Cavs near the midway point of his 15th season in the NBA. At this point in his career, conventional wisdom would say that James’ game would have declined to some extent. But somehow, the four-time MVP has managed to become a better player in some aspects of his game as a 15-year veteran.
James is averaging 28.4 points, 9.2 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game this season, which would be his fourth best scoring season, second best passing season and best rebounding season of his career. Not only is his raw production incredible, but he is having, by far, his most efficient shooting season of his career. James is shooting 57 percent from the field, 41.1 percent from three-point range and 78.5 percent from the free throw line, which would be career highs in all three categories.
Prior to the Cavs’ Finals rematch with the Warriors on Christmas in Oakland, Golden State coach Steve Kerr was asked about James’ incredible season and what it says about his greatness. Kerr, unsurprisingly, offered up a great response, marveling at how LeBron has managed to be better in year 15 than he was in year 10, which is unfathomable for a superstar of his caliber.
“LeBron’s playing as well as he ever has,” Kerr said. “I was thinking about it on the drive in, how many players are better in year 15 than in year 10? Especially when you’re talking about superstars. Go down the list. Anyone can do their own rankings of where LeBron ranks among the all-time greats. Go down the list, Michael, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Kareem, Bill Russell. Lot of ’em didn’t even get to 15 years. Were any of them better in year 15 than year 10? I can’t imagine. So what he has done with his game is just incredible. He’s always a dominant physical force from year one, but the skill at this point is better than it’s ever been. You always have to contend with him in many ways, but it feels like you have to contend with him in even more ways now.”
It really is incredible what LeBron has managed to do in finding little edges and improvements to make each offseason. Over the course of his career he’s always found ways to add something to his game without losing something else. It’s why he can play bully ball one game, taking advantage of his size and physicality in the post, and then run the team as the point guard in another game.
James is doing something that’s almost never been seen before with his play this deep into his career, and that’s something we should all make sure we appreciate. If Kerr can manage to do that while coaching LeBron’s chief rival, we as fans should definitely be able to.