LeBron James left the court early and we are getting an early look at the twilight of his career, as it’s strange to see him not able to take over a game at will and carry his team.
At this moment, whether it be his ankle, age, wear and tear or a combination of it all; he is not the best player in the game. This of course has been exacerbated by a Lakers supporting cast that is simply not as good as many believed, the injury to Anthony Davis, and a lack of shooting on the perimeter that leaves the floor crowded taking away space for James to operate.
But the fact is LeBron is averaging fewer points in a playoff series than he has since the NBA Finals in 2011, the one legitimate black mark on his career. And though he is still able to impact the game with his basketball acumen and passing, his lack of burst on the drive is apparent, making him significantly more offensively limited than we are accustomed to.
I don’t say this to diminish him, he’s already the greatest of all time in my mind and has nothing left to prove. However, given his current performance and what we’re watching from the likes of James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo this postseason, I simply can no longer confidently proclaim James to be the league’s best.
The simplest explanation for why is injury. He did just win Finals MVP in October and was on his way to likely hoisting the same regular season award before hurting his ankle. However, he is 36 and in year 18 as is frequently pointed out, which isn’t generally when players get better.
I’ll never doubt his ability to respond, both in this series or next season, but the LeBron James we’re seeing right now is not the same. And as a result, the title of the best player in the NBA is finally up for grabs.