LeBron James simply doesn’t cooperate with Father Time, at least not yet. In his 19th season, the Los Angeles Lakers star forward is playing at a historic pace that has pushed him past Karl Malone as the second-time all-time leading scorer.
James hasn’t demonstrated any decline, especially as a scorer, guiding his way toward potentially securing his second career scoring title. His impressive offensive showing has him on the brink of surpassing Michael Jordan twice in the NBA record books.
LeBron James continues remarkable 19th season
If there was any doubt James could continue his elite-level performance in his 19th year, he quickly diminished that notion.
Aside from some nagging injuries, such as a bothersome left knee soreness, he hasn’t declined in his performance. He became the oldest player to record seven consecutive 30-point outings while making him the first Lakers player to accomplish that since Kobe Bryant.
He set the league record for the oldest player to score at least 25 points in 23 straight games. James also became the first player age 35 or older to tally multiple 50-point games in a single season.
On top of that, he accomplished that in a week, marking the first time he reached that. James’ scoring barrage now has him on pace to set another NBA mark that would push him past Michael Jordan.
LeBron James can pass Michael Jordan in the NBA Record books twice
In LeBron James’ first return to Cleveland in the 2021-22 campaign, he showed out in the arena he called home for 11 seasons.
James recorded his 105th career triple-double behind a game-high 38 points to lead the Lakers to a much-needed road win over the Cavaliers. Beyond the 37-year-old’s continued brilliance in his 19th year, the latest stellar outing pushed him to a league-best 30.0 points per contest.
According to StatMuse, James is on pace to surpass Stephen Curry and Michael Jordan as the oldest player to average at least 30.0 points. Last season, Curry averaged a league-best 32.0 points at age 32, while Jordan averaged 30.4 points at age 32 during the 1995-96 season.
After Monday’s contest, James expressed tremendous exuberance regarding his play.
“I’m literally having the time of my life right now,” James said via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “The game’s such a beautiful thing.”
With 10 regular-season games left, James has an opportunity to become the oldest player to capture a scoring title. He currently leads by the slimmest of margins for that impressive feat, hedging ahead of Joel Embiid (29.8) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.8).
James would surpass Jordan as the oldest player to have led the league in scoring when he did that in his final campaign with the Chicago Bulls, averaging 28.7 points at age 35. Regardless of whether the Lakers’ star forward accomplishes that feat, the fact that he’s producing at an elite level at this stage of his career is nothing short of remarkable.
Lakers show encouraging signs on four-game road trip
LeBron James’ stellar play aside, the Lakers may have found a dynamic that could lead to an encouraging regular-season finish.
Their fate is set to participate in the play-in tournament, but an opportunity lies ahead to gather much-needed momentum. Los Angeles has won two out of their last three contests. That could have become three straight victories had not been for a fourth-quarter collapse against the Washington Wizards.
James remains the offensive centerpiece, especially after three straight contests with at least 36 points. However, the Lakers are getting more balanced play around James. Westbrook has tallied three consecutive 20-point outings with two double-doubles and a triple-double.
Meanwhile, the team is receiving solid supporting cast outing. Those efforts feature Wenyen Gabriel’s 17 points against the Toronto Raptors and D.J. Augustin’s 20 points off the bench against the Cavaliers.
If the Lakers can continue to receive more balanced offensive effort, coupled with Anthony Davis’ expected return, it may give them a chance to make noise in the playoff picture.