After a wild offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers, we can settle down and talk some fantasy basketball. LeBron James has some new company in terms of other fantasy players joining him in the first round. Because of the way the Lakers offseason shook out, we are going to see James play the point guard position. For someone averaging 7.2 assists in his career, and over eight in the last three seasons, James will fill this role well. Last year was the first time in his career where he played less than 60 games in the season. In general he has played under 70 just three times in his career. At age 35, there still isn’t much concern for his durability. You have to think that his sitting down the stretch was due to the Lakers being out of the race, and more about taking care of himself.
The goal that the Lakers failed to do last season was get shooters around James. This year they did better, but will it be enough for the Lakers as a whole? Of course the addition of Anthony Davis gives James another start to play around, which will be fun to watch. Adding Danny Green, Quinn Cook, and Avery Bradley at least gives them some defensive presence who can shoot the open three. James assist numbers were the fourth highest of his career on average last season. The upside is certainly there for him to surpass a career high of 9.1.
LeBron James Projected Fantasy Stats
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 8, 2019
Because the position is going to change for LeBron, the positional eligibility will too. However his upside and floor remain the same. His assist numbers already have been on the rise the last few seasons, and he is one of the top passers in the game today. Given that the Lakers have surrounded him with some better shooters, and Anthony Davis this season, averaging over nine assists per game is where I have him. He is still a minutes eater, and projects to at least play over 35 per game. The only real knock on him is that the steals have been going down as he gets older, but he is still averaging over 1.2 per game. James averaged a career high in three point attempts last season, and averaged 2.0 per game in the first time in his career.
James is a top ten pick, and will be likely within the first six picks depending on how the first few guys shake out. With a better team around him and likely a more competitive team, James upside is strong again. We don’t expect him to miss many games, so the chances of him playing through injuries are also higher because he has done that in the past.
It is hard to really give a floor for Lebron James, given that he has been one of the most consistent players in history. Fantasy wise you could deduct a rebound or two from his average, and that would be his floor. We are just talking about a different type of player when it comes to James. Ultimately we would need to see an unforeseeable drop in efficiency for his points per game to drop down. Even with Davis in town, this offense is going to run solely through these two making everybody else secondary options.
A floor would look like the 2015-16 season where he still scored 25 points per game but averaged 6.8 assists and 7.4 rebounds. That is not a huge drop off. Defensively might be where we see a difference in floor if he doesn’t exert much energy on this side, because we saw that a bit last season. He should still finish above 1.0 steals per game, but it could drop closer to that even one mark.
What to Expect
As the projections point to above, James is headed for a stellar season in my eyes. He is a special talent, and even given the age where we start to see a decline, it is hard to see that happening just yet to James. Turnovers will be up a bit just given he will be taking on a point guard role, where assists are expected to take a slight rise as well. A projected 27-9-9 season is a ceiling projection, where a floor would be along the lines of 25-7-7 and an average of somewhere in the middle. We have seen the rise of a few others in the fantasy world. But, James still has some of the best potential. His FT% is the only real knock on his game at this point.
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