Every year, the NBA’s league executive poll on ESPN compiles the insights of a number of the league’s top executives to give their anonymous thoughts on the landscape of the NBA. While in previous years LeBron James‘ name had always been a staple in the conversation for best player in the league, this years’ iteration offered a surprising change of pace in the way executives view the landscape of the league.
LeBron James Snubbed In NBA League Executive ‘Best Player’ Poll
Out of the 20 anonymous league executives polled, not a single one felt that James was still worthy of the title of “league’s best player”. Despite coming off another year of averaging 27/8/8, James was overlooked for players like Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and James Harden. While Leonard, Antetokounmpo, and Harden are transcendent stars in their own right, aside from his injury James showed no signs of slowing down and looks to be poised for an even stronger campaign with a team more suited to his strengths in place this season.
Long considered the league’s premier player, it should be interesting to see if LeBron can potentially snatch back the mantle of top dog in his old age. The improved shooting surrounding him and the addition of Anthony Davis should undoubtedly help his assist numbers and if last season was any indication, he can still get to the basket and score almost at will. Expect continued excellence from LeBron and with a stronger team (and more wins) in place, he could very well push his name back up into the conversation despite being half a decade older than any of the other players who received votes.
Lakers Looking for First Playoff Birth Since 2013
Despite a promising initial run in James’ first go-round with the Lakers, injuries set in and the Lakers slowly fell out of the playoff picture. Stumbling to an embarrassing 37-45 finish that saw them opt to sit LeBron after being eliminated weeks before the season ended, nearly everything that could go wrong did. Aside from James missing extended time due to injury, important young pieces like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma all suffered injuries at one point or another and the team never had an opportunity to play at full strength.
After moving nearly all of their young assets acquired in the draft – save for Kyle Kuzma – the Lakers added Anthony Davis to play Robin to LeBron’s Batman while piecing together a surprisingly competent roster from the remaining scraps left on the free agency market. Assuming the injury bug doesn’t rear its head again, this version of the Lakers should be expected to not only make the playoffs for the first time in over half a decade but seriously contend for an NBA title.
They should face some stiff competition in the postseason from their LA roommates, the Clippers, while also having to battle off the new-look Warriors and always dangerous Nuggets and Jazz. All that said, the Lakers undoubtedly have one of the most talented eight rosters in the West and anything short of a playoff birth would be viewed as a colossal failure for the storied franchise.