LeBron James had one of his worst games of the season against the Detroit Pistons this past Monday. The ‘King’ finished with 12 points on 5-18 shooting and six turnovers. Many of James’ critics are now saying his body is breaking down and that is time for Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue to start monitoring his minutes significantly. Is this true? Is the era of LeBron James really coming to an end?
James has already finished three games this season with 12 points. Coincidentally, all three of those games came in the second game of a back-to-back. Frankly, James has been awful in back-to-back games this year. He is averaging 23 points per game, his worst average since his rookie year. His field goal percentagehas also suffered. He hasn’t shot 46 percent from the field in back-to-back games since 2006.
Also, he has never shot so low from three-point range. He is averaging only 26 percent from downtown. This could be a father time effect. James may be settling for jumpers because he does not have the energy to drive to the hole day in and day out, for 48 minutes.
Business Insider reported that James has played more minutes (17,860) than any other player in the NBA since 2010. He registered more than 2,000 more minutes than the second placed Kevin Durant last year.
So is LeBron James past his prime? I do not think so. People love to jump to conclusions. Numbers can lie. Take a look at some more facts.
James is still averaging nearly 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game. He is still shooting 50 percent from the field. Granted, it is not the 56 percent he averaged from 2012-2014, but that is still very efficient. He still has about one more year left in his prime. Remember, he is only one year removed from almost beating this same Warriors team without Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving. That series went six games.
James also does not think his body is breaking down. He said the following to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
"Last year I was banged up,” said James. “It's not a mindset, it's just reality. This year I feel 10 times better than I did last year. So that's the mindset. I guess I've played so much basketball, man, feeling great, those days are pretty much over," James said. "I don't know anybody that's played 13 years that can say, 'Oh, I woke up and I feel great.' I feel great as far as life and getting an opportunity to wake up, but as far as me feeling like a 23-year old, those days are passed."
Critics should take a deep breath when it comes to the downfall of James. The rise of Curry does not have to cancel out James. There can be two dominant players in the league, believe it or not. People can fully appreciate everything Curry brings to the table without saying James is past his prime.
The day the four-time MVP can no longer get a 35 points or a triple double on any given night, is the day he is past his prime. Until then, breathe.