The second best player of all time is officially in decline.
Is Lebron post Achilles Kobe? By no means. But he is not the best player in the NBA, the West, his division, or even his team. The King is now in decline.
Not a Winning Basketball Player
Since Davis, the best player on the Lakers and down ballet MVP candidate before his injury, has been hurt, Lebron has put up numbers.
I am not here to argue that Lebron can’t be Russell Westbrook 2.0. In fact, I’m arguing that he is.
What Lebron is the king of now, is empty calorie stats and a lack of winning plays.
But let’s focus on his team success first, as this is a team sport.
Lebron’s Lakers have been wildly mediocre since Davis landed on the shelf.
The Lake show is playing at a 5-5 clip in their last ten (even with a 3 game winning streak against some at best average teams), and .500 overall since Davis was hurt.
This is the same player who took maybe the worst finals team ever to the finals back in 2007.
He is not even good as that mental breakdown prone young player he was all those years ago.
Obvious decline in his ability to carry a team.
Let’s circle back to his (still considerable) stat line.
Presumably, Lebron’s stats are out of this world as he is carrying a team with good talent around him, right?
Don’t be deceived, those paint a new picture as well.
Lebron’s scoring is only up .2 points since last season, and he is averaging 2.2 fewer assists.
He is averaging fewer shots at the rim than last season (6% fewer), shying away from contact more frequently and settling for pull-ups from 2 (up 3%).
Not only that, but his make rate on these bread and butter shots of his are down as well (-3.5%).
Not only are we seeing a drop on offense but…
Lebron has long been known to loaf a bit on defense.
It happens, he is managing his minutes and carrying an offensive load.
That being said, his lapses in effort or attention are more frequent this year, and thus are hurting the team more than ever.
On top of this, and more alarmingly, his athleticism has started to decline, and it shows on the defensive end.
He is less likely to play into contact on defense this season.
Noted exception: Unless he can swoop in for a highlight block, which actually aren’t as useful as controlled blocks than can lead to transition opportunities.
When defending at the within 6 feet of the basket this season, his defensive FG % is up.
But, the scariest piece of evidence is the DFG% of his opponents outside 15 feet.
Opponents are scoring a whopping 6% better than last year, showing Lebron’s declining ability to close out.
For context, a 6% difference is greater than the best defense in the NBA this season (surprising Knicks!) and the worst in the NBA (Kings).
This is…not great!
Time to Look for Who Is Next
Now that the crown is slipping off his head, it’s time to look for the next GUY.
It looks like Luka (and his red-hot Mavs) to me.
Many players now are already as good and better than Lebron. Is Lebron even top 10 this season?
Regardless of who you have on that list, it is clear new Red Sox owner Lebron is regressing.
Sorry Lebron Stans!