LeBron's (Incomparable) 17th Season

It wasn’t that long ago that some were calling Kobe Bryant “Vino” whenever he had a good game in his final season. Wine gets better as it ages, and all that.

So what should we call LeBron James, who’s playing at an MVP level on a nightly basis for the now 15-2 Lakers?

It’s Year 17 for King James, and he’s doing this: 25.6 points per game on 49.3 percent FG’s and 35.1% from three, 3.9 free throws made, 7.4 rebounds, 11.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks in 35.2 minutes per game.

He’s the only player, ever, to average at least 25 points and 10 assists after their age-30 season … and he’s almost 35.

It doesn’t seem like somebody who’s played the fourth-most combined regular season and postseason minutes in the history of the NBA would be able to do that … but LeBron looks great physically, and has been telling us that he feels like that too.

“I just put in the work,” said James, who I saw in the gym in the San Antonio hotel on Tuesday morning after he dropped 33 points with 14 assists and completely dominated the fourth quarter. “I work extremely hard on my game, you know, I put in the work and I trust everything that I’ve done. Especially this off season and I’ve come in with a great mindset, with a healthy mindset and a healthy body and like I said, my teammates put a lot of trust in me playing at point guard position and my coaches put a lot of trust in me playing that position and I just try to make them proud.

“Every time I tell you guys that it’s the best I’ve felt, you guys kind of get a, ‘All right,’ and then I go out and I’m able to do what I do … my spring is back, my quick-twitch (muscles) are back, my mind is sharp, my body is good.”

Against the Spurs, James drilled three of his 3-pointers early in the final period to bury San Antonio, and in the process, passed lethal sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic for 18th on the all-time 3’s made list. Not bad for a guy that famously has had defensive schemes begging him to shoot, for fear of his explosive and bullying drives to the rim. I asked him about that in the walkoff for Spectrum SportsNet:

In short: “I just want to be able to not have any weaknesses, and allow a defense to dictate what I do,” he explained.

Again, for perspective, only three players in NBA HISTORY have played more total minutes than LeBron, and he’s still playing at an MVP level.

NBA All-Time Minutes Played

Want some more evidence? Here’s where LeBron’s current averages rank with all other players in history in their respective 17th seasons:

Kobe Bryant: 27.3
LeBron James: 25.6
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 23.4
Karl Malone: 22.4
Shaquille O’Neal: 17.8

LeBron James: 11.0
John Stockton: 8.7
Jason Kidd: 8.2
Steve Nash: 6.7
Kobe Bryant: 6.0

Tim Duncan: 9.7
Robert Parish: 9.4
Tyson Chandler: 9.1
Karl Malone: 8.6
Shaquille O’Neal: 8.4
(9th) LeBron James: 7.4

Karl Malone: 1.9
Jason Kidd: 1.7
John Stockton: 1.6
Kobe Bryant: 1.4
LeBron James: 1.2

Tim Duncun: 1.9
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1.6
Hakeem Olajuwon: 1.5
Robert Parish: 1.4
Shaquille O’Neal: 1.4
(14th) LeBron James: 0.6

3-Pointers Made:
LeBron James: 2.0
Ray Allen 1.8
Kyle Korver: 1.8
Kobe Bryant: 1.7
Reggie Miller: 1.7

Free Throws Made:
Kobe Bryant: 6.7
Karl Malone: 6.4
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 4.3
Shaquille O’Neal: 4.1
LeBron James: 3.9

Not bad for … literally any player in history.