The Los Angeles Lakers are now 16-21 on the season, coming off of two straight wins that were spearheaded by two 40+ point games from the one, the only, The King LeBron James. The most recent of which was Monday’s 121-115 win in Charlotte against the Hornets where LeBron scored 43 points while adding 11 rebounds and six assists.
We’ve officially entered “How old is this guy again?” territory as LeBron is finding ways to stupify us each and every night while he shoulders an unfair load in Anthony Davis’s absence. The numbers are enough to do that to you on their own, but plays like the one below also serve as micro-reminders that what we are watching is unprecedented for someone who just recently turned 38 years old.
OH MY GOODNESS LEBRON 🤯
HE'S GOT A 30 PIECE IN CHARLOTTE
— NBA (@NBA) January 3, 2023
However, these last two offensive eruptions from LeBron are no outliers. He’s been doing this since even before Davis left the Dec. 16 game vs. the Nuggets with his foot injury. That recent, torrid play has resulted in LeBron averaging 29.0 points. 8.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game through 29 games played this season.
Given how well he’s played as of late, I decided to find some statistics that show just how impressive this current run of his is, even while putting his climbing age to the side.
Making individual history
These last two games of his aren’t just historic for a man of his age (more on that later though), they’re nearly unparalleled for himself!
The two straight 40+ point games against the Hornets and Hawks serve as the first time he’s notched those totals in back-to-back games since Games 5 and 6 of the infamous 2016 NBA Finals that he and the Cleveland Cavaliers won. Before that, he hadn’t scored 40+ points in B2B games since the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.
In terms of the regular season, LeBron hadn’t done this since Nov. 8 and 11 in 2008. He’s only had B2B 40+ point games two other times in his regular season career (both times in the 2005-06 season).
In his last 11 games, LeBron is averaging 34.5 points per game (3rd in the entire NBA in that time span). This is only the third time LeBron has averaged 34+ PPG over an 11-game stretch since becoming a Laker. He’s shooting a putrid 26.6% from 3-point territory in this current stretch, while he shot 40.2% and 39.6% in the aforementioned two spans of 11 games. Just imagine what the numbers would look like if he was shooting closer to his career average from deep.
Still one of the best in the league
Of course, if LeBron is putting up runs that rival some of the best he’s had in his career, you know he’s looking pretty good compared to the current crop of the NBA’s best.
In that 11-game run he’s currently on, he had 7 straight games between Dec. 11 and Dec. 25 scoring 30 or more points. The only other players to have that streak this season are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (7 games), Giannis Antetokounmpo (8 games), and Luka Doncic (9 games). The average age of those three players is 25, while LeBron is 38 (if you haven’t heard)
In his last 12 games, LeBron is averaging the 3rd-most field-goal attempts per game in the restricted area, ranking only behind Giannis and Zion Williamson. He has the highest FG% (85.1%) of any player in that span of time with 5.0+ FGAs per game in the restricted area, other than Anthony Davis who sports a 91.7% clip in his last 12 games preceding his injury.
Oh, and if you aren’t a Lakers fan you may be paying more attention to the recent offensive explosion put on by the Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell who put up the most points in a game since Kobe Bryant’s 81-point masterpiece with 71 against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
However, if Mitchell scored 71 points again in his next game, his PPG in his last 12 games would be 33.3, which would still be below LeBron’s current mark of 34.5.
Who’s the GOAT: LeBron or MJ?
And, of course — as is the case with most individual NBA records — the last person to do *INSERT FEAT HERE* is usually Michael Jordan. This current run by LeBron is no different.
LeBron is the first player 35 years or older to have 40+ in B2B games since Jordan did it twice with the Washington Wizards as well as once in the 1997-98 season with the Chicago Bulls. If LeBron has 40+ vs. the Heat on Wednesday, it’ll be the only time someone 35 years or older has had 3 straight games with 40+ points. Even further showing how insane it is that LeBron is playing this well this late in his career, no one 32 years or older has had 40+ points in 3 straight games since Kobe Bryant did it 4 straight times in the 2011-12 season.
No matter what his age, LeBron has never had 3 straight 40+ point games.
So will LeBron do it again on Wednesday? We will have to see. Head coach Darvin Ham and the rest of the Lakers organization would probably prefer that they have the ability to win games without LeBron creating history in front of their very eyes, but the sad fact is that these performances may be needed to keep the team’s record afloat without Davis.
Putting all of the macro-elements of this Lakers team to the side, let’s just take a moment to acknowledge how great it is to — wait for it — witness another historic run from LeBron James.