The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t have the best start to the 2017-2018 NBA season, but you already know that because that’s all anyone was talking about at the time. Is LeBron washed up? Should the Cavs trade Kevin Love? Time to blow up the team and start over!
Well, no one is saying a word anymore. After embarrassing early season losses to teams like the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Atlanta Hawks, the Cavaliers are back on track, thanks to—you guessed it—LeBron James.
If the season ended today, LeBron James would have career-highs in field-goal percentage for the season, three-point shooting percentage, assists, and blocks. He would also be only 0.2 rebounds per game off from his career-high, which came last season. Also, at 28.1 points per game, he is still having no issues getting to the rim and finishing.
While it is way too early to be talking about this, LeBron is a front-runner in the MVP conversation, for what would be his fifth MVP trophy should he win it come the end of the season.
“Team success is always the number one, but along the way if you’re able to accomplish some individual awards, individual achievements, it would mean a lot,” said James.
LeBron is no stranger to individual success coupled with team success. While this season’s MVP race is a little tight with James Harden doing his thing in Houston and dark horses like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis still having plenty of time left to make a run at the prestigious award, there is something to say for LeBron, who is playing at this level in his 15th season.
“I feel good,” continued LeBron. “This is my 15th year, but this is one of the best years I’ve had as far as how I feel and I want to continue that. I want to kind of try to break the mold for the next generation. So just take the narrative out of ‘Okay, you’re past your prime when you get 31,’ or ‘you’re past your prime in your 12th year in the league,’ or whatever the case may be. Hopefully, I can break the mold so when the next guy comes; he can still get 200 or 300 million and be 33 years old. I’m serious. You guys are laughing; I’m serious. This is the mold I’m trying to break.”
And there is a reason that molds like that exist in the first place. It is hard to imagine someone in their 15th season outplaying guys like Harden and Davis that are just entering their prime. While LeBron is one of the first players to mention it publicly, I am completely willing to believe that that happens all the time. That teams doubt the long-term potential of the 28 or 29-year old when they could be looking at second- or third-year guys fresh out of college.
Hell, just this offseason, when people were breaking down the trade between the Cavs and the Boston Celtics sending Kyrie Irving to MA in exchange for Isaiah Thomas among other things, one of the big refrains about the Cavs side of the deal was that Thomas is getting old, and he doesn’t have the same long-term potential that a guy like Irving does.
Now, I’m not saying that Thomas is anything like LeBron or that anyone will be able to do what LeBron is doing ever again (because, let’s be honest, we’re watching a master at work), but LeBron is (as he always has) redefining the game of basketball right before our very eyes.