2022-23 Season Summary:
At age 38, LeBron James completed the best 20th season in NBA history; in terms of raw statistical production (28.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 6.8 apg, 1.5 spg), there’s never been anybody close. Meanwhile, only one other player managed to even play in the postseason in Year 20: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Though a foot injury sidelined LeBron for a month late in the season, he remained the primary creator on offense for the Lakers, while still playing an important role defensively, particularly late in games. He secured a spot on the All-NBA Third Team, his 19th All-NBA honor, made his 19th All-Star game and played a critical role in L.A.’s trip to the Western Conference Finals, while becoming the game’s all-time leading scorer, and moving up to fourth on the all-time assist list.
By The Numbers:
38,652: LeBron’s point total as he added a 265-point gap ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387.
2,036: Difference in career playoff points for the all-time leader, LeBron (8,023) and Michael Jordan (5,987); LeBron’s 28.5 per game average ranks sixth, with MJ (33.4) atop that list.
26.4%: Percentage from 3-point range in the postseason, a career low for LeBron, and a number he’ll look to improve if his physically rigorous drives to the rim get increasingly difficult heading into Year 21.
Like no player before him, LeBron has held Father Time at bay, and the primary question heading into his potential 21stseason will be to what degree he can continue to do so. Last season, there were a few expected dips in terms of nightly impact relative to the impossibly high personal standard he’s set throughout his career. For example, his first quarter defense in a January game may not match what it would be in a critical April game that would determine playoff seeding. Even so, last season, LeBron’s net rating prior to the trade deadline was 3.1, third on the team, despite L.A.’s overall struggles. After LAL acquired better-fitting teammates, that jumped to 12.1 in 10 games after the All-Star break. In the postseason, against three very good teams, his net rating was 0.6, in nearly 38.7 minutes per game. And so, if Father Time can chip away just a little bit physically, perhaps the roster L.A. puts around LeBron to support him can take on a bit more of the load in 2023-24. With the potential for much-improved continuity and talent on the roster around him, and well-earned trust in his offseason regimen to maximize himself, there’s good reason to believe LeBron can continue his productive and impactful play.