LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball

LeBron’s 19th Season

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

In a sport where Father Time typically limits even the best of the best players by age 35, LeBron James continues to push off the inevitable with his on-court production.

Despite being the fourth-oldest player in the NBA in 2021-22, turning 37 in December, LeBron still delivered at an unprecedented statistical level for Year 19.

LeBron James Dribble

He finished second in scoring with 30.3 points per game*, adding 8.2 boards, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks. He converted an efficient 52.4 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from three, making a career-high 2.9 triples per game.

Officially, LeBron missed the qualifier for the scoring title won by Joel Embiid (30.6) by two games.

If there was a dent in his armor, it came via injury: he missed 26 games battling various maladies. Perhaps the six-time All-Defensive team member didn't have the full-game defensive impact each night as he once did, but LeBron typically ramped things up in fourth quarters on that end, all while carrying one of the largest offensive loads in the league.

Two years ago, we compiled LeBron’s historical rankings in his age 35 season, his 17th in the NBA. He ranked second in scoring (25.6 points per game) to only Kobe Bryant, first in assists, ninth in rebounds, fifth in steals and first in 3-pointers made, for what was in sum the best season ever for a player that age.

LeBron James Defends Possession

In that 2019-20 season, LeBron ultimately led the Lakers to an NBA title. This past season, the Lakers missed the playoffs, with injuries both to himself and particularly to Anthony Davis (only 40 games played) headlining myriad issues.

And yet, LeBron upped his minutes (34.6 to 37.2) and scoring (25.3 to 30.3), aided by a move up from point guard (10.2 assists in 2019-20) to power forward and center, when defenses could do little to stop him either at the rim with an open paint.

Here's how LeBron compares historically to other NBA players in their 19th season:

1. LeBron (30.3)
2. Kobe (22.3)
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (14.6)
4. Dirk Nowitzki (14.2)
5. Carmelo Anthony (13.3)
1. John Stockton (7.7)
2. LeBron (6.2)
3. Kobe (5.6)
4. Karl Malone (3.9)
5. Jamal Crawford (3.6)
1. Malone (8.7)
2. LeBron (8.2)
3. Tim Duncan (7.3)
4. Kevin Garnett (6.6)
5. Nowitzki (6.5)
1. John Stockton (1.7)
2. Jason Kidd (1.6)
T3. Kobe (1.3)
T3. LeBron (1.3)
5. Malone
1. Duncan (1.3)
2. Kareem (1.2)
T3. Kobe (1.3)
T3. LeBron (1.3)
5. Carmelo (0.8)
1. LeBron (37.2)
2. Kobe (34.5)
3. Malone (32.7)
4. Kareem (28.9)
5. Stockton (27.7)
1. LeBron (2.9)
2. Carmelo (2.2)
T3. Kobe (1.5)
T3. Vince Carter (1.5)
T3. Kidd (1.5)

LeBron James Dunk

Being on just one of these lists is an accomplishment by itself, showing atypical longevity. In fact, only one player (Crawford) isn't a guaranteed Hall of Famer, as most players on the list have already been inducted, or are sure to be one day.

When LeBron takes the court for the first time in 2022-23, his 20th in the NBA, he'll join a club that includes only nine players. Six are on the lists above, and the others are big men Moses Malone, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis.

LeBron Dribbles the Ball

If James merely matches his points and assists totals from last season, he'll jump up to No. 4 on the league's all-time assist chart, and become the NBA's all-time leading scorer.

Kareem's 38,387 points still top the chart, but LeBron is only 1,325 behind him. If the kid from Akron averages 30.0 points per night, he'd surpass Kareem in his 44th game; if he dips down to 25.0, he'd get there in 53.

What LeBron's doing is certainly unprecedented, as he continues to raise the standard for future basketball generations.

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