LeBron James is a couple months removed from his 34th birthday and is currently in his 16th NBA season. Without a doubt, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he continues to arguably be the best player in the NBA.
Of course that won’t last forever, and eventually James’ game will begin to decline some. The question is when and to what degree will it happen. It can be reasoned some of it has been seen since he suffered a strained groin.
The injury kept James out for 17 consecutive games, then forced him to sit the game after returning due to lingering soreness. He hasn’t always looked his usual self, which reportedly has some within the Lakers organization concerned.
The NBA has seen many players become a shell of themselves seemingly out of nowhere and James is nearing a time in his career where most would expect to see some sort of a drop off. James, however, isn’t worried about a sudden decline in his game, as he explained to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols:
“No, I don’t. I don’t. Because my game is so multidimensional that I can actually camouflage some parts of my game that could make a decline and actually still be productive, if that makes sense. I can do some things where if certain parts of my game isn’t as effective as they were when I was younger, then I can spice up other parts of my game.”
This is certainly something that others before him have done. Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant altered their games when their athleticism began to decline, relying more on footwork and strength, while dominating the mid-range.
Likewise, James has so many exceptional skills that he could be effective in any number of ways. One area James has already improved in greatly is his post-game, which could become an even bigger part of his attack in his late years thanks to his strength and passing ability.
Becoming more of a back-to-the-basket player would still take advantage of his other amazing skills. But since James has yet to show significant signs of physical deterioration, it’s anyone’s guess as to when he will actually need to make those changes.
Even with somewhat of a decline, he became the only player in NBA history to rank in the top-10 on the league’s all-time scoring and assists lists.
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