It’s been a long reign at the top but LeBron James‘ time as the best player in the NBA could be at its end. The Los Angeles Lakers star got bounced in the first round of the playoffs while Giannis Antetokounmpo put together one of the greatest NBA Finals performances in league history and Kevin Durant was otherworldly in the playoffs. For the first time in over a decade, there’s a real argument as to who the best player in the NBA is.
In fact, many believe that LeBron isn’t even in the conversation. In a survey of NBA executives and scouts conducted by Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Durant and Giannis received five votes each for best player in the league while LeBron didn’t receive a single one.
James took notice, tweeting that he would use the vote as motivation.
It’s fair to suggest that those two could be the best in the league but it’s rather surprising that the Lakers star wouldn’t get a single vote. Some believe that Giannis is about to take things to the next level now that’s he’s won a championship.
“He’s unlocked a different cheat code at both ends that gives him that spot,” an East executive said of Giannis. “You can certainly argue for Durant and LeBron [James], but between injury and age, can they consistently do it?”
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Can LeBron Reclaim Crown This Season?
There have been times throughout his career when people thought LeBron was ready to step down as the NBA’s best. After his first season with the Lakers in 2018 that ended without a playoff berth, it looked like he’d lost his spot at the top. He roared back the next season, led the Lakers to a championship and finished second in MVP voting.
At 36-years-old, it remains to be seen if LeBron has enough left in the tank. However, he’s proven doubters wrong in the past. He was hurt for much of last season so he wasn’t playing to his best capabilities. He could head into next season with a point to prove. He could also simply accept that he’s no longer the best in the world and defer to his other superstar teammates going forward. Regardless, it will be fascinating to watch.
Execs Don’t Like Russell Westbrook Trade
One thing that could make or break LeBron’s season is the addition of Russell Westbrook. The two superstars do a lot of the same things well. In Bontemps’ survey, executives and scouts were not fans of the Westbrook trade. Two voted it as the worst move of the offseason by any team.
“Look, I’m trying to give LeBron the benefit of the doubt on this,” a Western Conference scout said. “But given what they could’ve done, I don’t see that fit working out over the course of the season. I’m a huge Westbrook fan. I just don’t like the fit.”
Westbrook’s fit is questionable but it’s also possible that talent will win out in the end. LeBron is as smart a basketball player as there is. He can figure out a way to make it work but Westbrook is going to have to buy-in.