5 active locks for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images /
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Basketball Hall of Fame
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images /

LeBron James

  • Career stats: 27.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, .504/.344/.735 shooting splits
  • Advanced stats: 236.1 win shares, 8.9 box plus-minus, 58.6 percent true shooting
  • Accolades: 3-time NBA champion, 4-time MVP, 15-time All-NBA selection, 3-time Finals MVP, 2007-08 scoring champion, 2003-04 Rookie of the Year

To get the obvious one out of the way, we have LeBron James, the greatest player of this century and arguably the best player ever. The King has been dominant for an outstandingly long time, blending size and skill in a way the league has never seen.

Magic Johnson was the prototype for jumbo playmakers, but James took that model to new heights. Though the Akron native is one of the best passers ever, facilitating is just one of the myriad ways he squashes opponents.

James’ traditional stats tell part of that story, as a career 27-7-7 line is dominant in unprecedented ways. But how he reached those thresholds can change from night to night, adapting to the opponent with a deliberate and calculated approach.

The mismatch basketball we know today was strongly influenced by LeBron. He’s athletic enough to blow by slower bigs and strong enough to punish most guards. It takes a special blend of physical tools to simply survive against James, an advantage he uses to break down defenses and find the open shooter.

And rarely does he miss those windows. The King has consistently been near the top of the league’s assist leaderboards, and was in first place when the 2019-20 season suspended. Assists don’t tell the whole story though; just watching LeBron pick apart the game in real time is breathtaking on its own.

James’ physical and intellectual profile combine into a nearly flawless player. The biggest thing separating him from Michael Jordan is the hardware, which he may have gotten more of with a better supporting cast his first time around with the Cleveland Cavaliers.