After a wild offseason that saw perhaps the most impactful free agency period in league history, the 2019-2020 NBA season is nearly here.
Media day and training camps are set to begin within the next couple of days which also means fans will soon be getting a look at a revamped Los Angeles Lakers roster.
The Lakers were one of several teams who benefited from all the player movement as they finally managed to land Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Not only that, they managed to sign several quality free agents such as Danny Green, Jared Dudley, and Quinn Cook to help spread the floor for Davis and LeBron James.
ESPN has begun its yearly #NBARank series where they vote on the top 100 players in the league. Unsurprisingly enough, both Davis and James were high up on the list, but the latter was knocked a couple of spots down from his usual No. 1 spot. Sitting at No. 3, ESPN gave their rationale:
How long can he keep it up? Though James’ averages of 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists while playing a career-low 35.2 minutes per game last season suggest he is still in dominant form, his VORP (value over replacement player) and PER (player efficiency rating) were both the lowest they’ve been since his rookie season. If James keeps defying Father Time with some younger talent in Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma to help share the load, L.A. should be a force. If he can’t, then the Lakers could have real challenges.
The knock against James is understandable given that he missed his first extended stretch of games due to an injury last season and did not look the same after returning. James was eventually shut down toward the end of the season with the Lakers already mathematically eliminated from the 2019 NBA playoffs.
The 34-year-old is still widely considered to be one of the best players in the league as evidenced by the ranking, but it is still odd not seeing him top the list. James has been the No. 1 player on #NBARank since its inception prior to the 2011-2012 season when he was still in the middle of his prime.
Regardless of James’ ranking, he and Davis are still arguably the league’s most dangerous one-two punch and should lead the purple and gold back to the playoffs.
How far they can go will come down to health and how fast the team gels.