Now in his 17th NBA season, it would be expected for LeBron James to take a bit of a step back in his future Hall of Fame career.
Very few players are able to maintain a high level of play at this stage of their career, but James has helped carry the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference.
He has done so while playing a new position, moving to point guard full-time and leading the league in assists to boot. Additionally, he remains one of the toughest players to defend as his combination of speed, power, and athleticism is still unreal for any player — let alone one with miles James has put on his body.
This has not been lost on Jimmy Butler, who is one of the best two-way players in the league today. Butler recently wrote an article for The Players’ Tribune about the five toughest players he’s had to guard:
He’s still the best all-around player in the league. He literally does everything well. He can shoot. Pass. Attack the rim. Defend. You need a bucket? LeBron’s got you. You need a rebound, a steal or a block? He’s got you. Whatever you need, whenever you need it.
Butler would go further in-depth on what makes James such a difficult matchup for practically every player in the league:
When you talk about a combination of speed and athleticism, plus a combo of strength and explosiveness, you gotta start with LeBron. He’s one of the most dynamic players this league has ever seen. He can literally play every position on the court and be elite at all of them. That makes him a matchup nightmare because the smaller, faster guys can’t body up with him — he just overpowers them — and the bigger guys who can bang with him in the post aren’t quick enough to keep him from getting to the rim.
There is no doubt that James is one of the most unique players to ever step foot on an NBA floor. As Butler noted, smaller players can’t handle his strength while big men can’t keep up with his quickness.
There may be questions as to how much longer James can keep this up but one thing that’s for sure is that he’s still amongst the NBA’s elite and that doesn’t look like it’ll be changing soon.