The king has been dethroned, in fact, he’s no longer on the podium or even in the top five: LeBron James is not one of the top five NBA players ahead of the coming season.
That might cause a few raised eyebrows and even a few arguments, but it seems age is finally beginning to catch up with James as he slips down the rankings and sees the new generation overtake him.
In anticipation of the 2022/23 campaign, ESPN have listed their top 100 players in the league and James comes in at no.6. On last year’s list, the Los Angeles Lakers star was no. 3.
ESPN have been gradually revealing their list from 100 to no.1 and on Thursday spots 10 through six were unveiled.
Joining James in the top 10, but not the top five, are Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Yes Morant and Devin Booker.
Who are the best five players in the NBA?
We can therefore make the educated assumption that the top five, in no particular order, will be: Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry.
The final order of that quintet will also be the subject of much debate.
LeBron‘s fall from the top five can be explained when we look at the numbers of his disappointing 2021/22 season with the Lakerswho also underperformed as a team.
The 37-year-old averaged a rather incredible 30.3 points per game. However, he also had a negative plus-minus rating, meaning that the Lakers allowed more points than they scored with him on the court.
The Lakers as a franchise had a year to forget, finishing 11th in the West with a 0.402 record. Jamesfor his part, also missed 26 games with injury.
With pre-season just around the corner ahead of what will be King James‘ 20th year in the NBA, the big question is how he and the Lakers bounce back from this. Will James be back in the top five next season or is this finally the beginning of his decline?