LEBRON STILL AT THE TOP? When asked who the best all-around player in the league is, people will give you a variety of different answers these days, ranging from reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to scoring champion James Harden. But according to Jimmy Butler, that honor still belongs to Lakers forward LeBron James.
Here’s what Butler had to say on the matter, in a recent piece for The Players’ Tribune: “So … the five toughest players I’ve ever guarded. Let’s get to it. LeBron James, Positionless, Los Angeles Lakers. I didn’t want to talk about LeBron here. I really didn’t. I wanted to give some other guys some shine. But you can’t have a 5 Toughest list and not have LeBron on it. He’s still the best all-around player in the league. He literally does everything well. He can shoot. Pass. Attack the rim. Defend. You need a bucket? LeBron’s got you. You need a rebound, a steal or a block? He’s got you. Whatever you need, whenever you need it. Bron’s got you. When you talk about a combination of speed and athleticism, plus a combo of strength and explosiveness, you gotta start with LeBron.”
If anyone would know who the best all-around player in the league is, it would be Butler, who has been one of the league’s top two-way wings for a few years now, and has spent a good amount of time defending LeBron in his heyday. The advanced numbers also make a strong case for James, with the four-time league MVP ranking fourth in Value Over Replacement Player, fourth in Box Plus/Minus and fifth in Win Shares in 2019-20.
He may have slowed down a bit from his ridiculous prime, but even today, there’s very few players in the league who can match James’ nightly impact. And he’s 35 years old. Insane longevity.
LAST NIGHT IN THE ASSOCIATION: Speaking of that LeBron guy, he dropped 31 points on 16 field-goal attempts yesterday against his former team, the Cavs, in a 128-99 win for the Lakers. Meanwhile, young Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander guard went off for an insane 20/20/10 triple-double, an insane feat for the second-year player that headlined a 117-104 OKC win over the Timberwolves.
LATEST TRADE SCUTTLE: More trade rumors from both Monday and the weekend.
🏀 Derrick Rose hasn’t given much thought to the upcoming trade deadline, though he’s certainly a candidate to get dealt due to his impressive level of play this year and the Pistons’ poor season.
🏀 More details on a potential Andre Drummond swap, with The Athletic reporting that teams aren’t offering first-round picks for the All-Star big man… yet. That could change as we get closer to the deadline.
🏀 The Knicks are reluctant to send out first-round picks in any trade at the moment, which makes sense considering they’re still rebuilding and are likely to be picking very high in the draft in the near future.
FULL-TIME CONTRACT EARNED: One of this season’s more uplifting stories, that of Chris Silva, who went from undrafted to two-way contract with Miami to a member of a playoff-caliber team’s rotation, got even more inspirational yesterday, when it was reported that Silva’s deal with the Heat will be converted from a two-way one to a standard contract.
A TRUE WINNER: According to our research, there’s only one player in NBA history with a winning record against all 30 teams, and it’s Spurs legend and future Hall-of-Famer Tony Parker.
MVP RANKINGS: In the latest installment of our weekly MVP ranking series, Giannis firmly held on to his spot at the top while Donovan Mitchell was a first-time inclusion on the list.
GOOD GUY KYRIE: Nets guard Kyrie Irving has quietly been paying the tuition for half the kids at The Patrick School, his alma mater, and has done more work to keep the basketball program, and school, afloat. The Athletic goes behind the scenes on a Kyrie-influenced practice at the school here.
FAIR WARNING: Lamar Odom’s career is notorious for the way it ended so quickly, going from being one of the league’s best bench players in 2010-11 to being out of basketball two years later. Odom discusses why it all ended so abruptly for him, as well as the warning he gave Mark Cuban when he traded for him.
LET IT FLY: LaMarcus Aldridge is shooting more threes than ever this season, and it’s helped the Spurs offense out a ton, propelling the team to the outskirts of the West’s playoff race.
NEW ROLE: Thaddeus Young is a pro’s pro, but he’s found it difficult adjusting to his new role with the Bulls, where he’s being asked to attempt more threes and layups and fewer midrange jumpers and post-up looks, two areas in which he used to excel.
GOOD CAUSE: Trae Young wants to be an All-Star this season, but not for selfish reasons. He wants to reach that honor so his platform gets bigger, and he’s able to do more work for his community.
FIGURING I.T. OUT: Isaiah Thomas’ jumper isn’t falling recently. At all. One rival scout believes Thomas’ mentality, that of a bucket-getter and not a creator, is hurting both his overall impact and the teams he suits up for.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGET: The Athletic breaks down if there’s any plausible way, financially, for the Rockets to acquire Timberwolves swingman Robert Covington in a trade.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
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