After the Los Angeles Lakers concluded their playoff run last season, LeBron James left fans stunned by his sudden contemplation of retirement. Ultimately, he would return for his 21st season, but it left Lakers fans wondering how much he has left in the tank.
The 2022-23 season was taxing on both James and his co-star Anthony Davis, having to exert a lot of energy trying to will an underwhelming roster into the playoff race. Once moves were made at the trade deadline, the mileage caught up to the four-time champion as he torn a tendon in his foot. While he gutted it out towards the end of the season and playoffs, he clearly wasn’t 100 percent.
Now, James has started the 2023-24 season fantastically, coming off of a 37-point, 8-assist and 6-rebound performance on Sunday against the Houston Rockets. Davis praised his co-star for the high level of basketball James is playing at to begin the season.
“He’s playing phenomenal right now,” Davis said. “His shot is falling, he’s attacking the paint, making the right reads, doing it on the defensive end. So he’s doing it all for us. It’s our job to try to complement him and give him some help with our shotmaking or playmaking. But it doesn’t feel like he’s 38. If we keep getting these performances from him, then we get our 3-ball falling again from the rest of the team, I think we’ll be fine.”
The 38-year-old is averaging 26.4 points, 6.5 assists and 8.2 rebounds on 58.6% from the field and 39.7% from 3 through 14 games, a superb start to the season. As he has aged, James has become more jump shot reliant by shooting more mid-ranges and 3-pointers but has struggled to find that consistency.
It seems that having a full offseason to heal and rehab that foot has done wonders as he is almost a 40% 3-point shooter and is clearly in a rhythm right now. While it may not be ideal for James to be the leading scorer every night, the type of performance that he had on Sunday is another example of how what he is doing right now is unprecedented.
Players that are in their late 30s are usually retired or entering their final season with not a lot of production, but that’s definitely not the case for James. He looks to be re-energized, healthy and motivated to lead the Lakers to another championship.
James on recent play: ‘Sometimes you need to remind folks’
When signing with the Lakers in 2018, LeBron received some criticism as talking heads believed he came to L.A. to grow his brand and make movies. But at 38, he is still as motivated as ever and his recent play serves as a reminder to the doubters.
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