LeBron James continues to prove his elite fantasy value
Earlier in the season, there have been lots of discussions and talks about LeBron James and his real fantasy value. Although we all know that he is the best basketball player currently active in the world, there were some doubts about his fantasy value and about his ability to stay at the top of his game till the end of the season. With Kevin Durant recording one 40+ point game after another during Russell Westbrook’s absence and with the Heat not really pushing for the first seed in the Eastern Conference, some owners even decided to trade LeBron James away. After all, it sounds rational that Erik Spoelstra will choose to rest King James during the last games of the season, when the Heat will gear up for the beginning of the playoffs. So how could we characterize such an option, trading James away?
The truth is that LeBron James has and the entire Miami Heat team seemed to be on autopilot during some stretches of the season. Their rivals, the Indiana Pacers, are pushing hard to claim the No.1 spot in the East, hoping to avoid a potential Game 7 in South Beach this year. After all, that’s what the Pacers believe cost them the elimination last season. On the contrary, the Heat look relaxed and they have managed to stay at the second seed in the East without putting too much effort or pressure in themselves. And although LeBron is recording a sensational season, some people around the league believed earlier in the season that his production would fall, as we close in to the playoffs. It sounds rational doesn’t? The Miami Heat don’t need to push hard this season. They would settle with the second seed in the East. So they will most probably not use LeBron during the last games of the season. They’ll choose to keep him sidelined, allowing him to rest before a run for the three-peat. Correct?
The best answer to this statement came two days ago, when the Miami Heat blew out the Charlotte Bobcats and when LeBron James broke his career-record, along with a couple of more records, for most points scored in a single game. King James finished with 61 points and he stayed in the game even after he had already broken his personal record but also the franchise record for most points in a game. He kept on firing. Was there any reason why he kept on going? In a regular season game which was already decided, Erik Spoelstra chose to use his megastar forward during the fourth quarter and till almost the end of the game. It doesn’t make any sense, right?
Well, it does. Keep that in mind for your fantasy teams. And keep that in mind when you are planning your strategy, when you are scouting your opponents. You should also keep that in mind when you are drafting your team and when you sit back on your couch to watch the playoffs in a couple of months from now.
LeBron James stayed in a game for no other reason but because he just enjoyed it. After the game, LBJ stated that this game felt like he was shooting golf balls into an Ocean. Really, King James put up one of the best individual performances we will witness this season. With eight three-pointers made in 10 attempts and with 22 field goals made in 33 attempts, LeBron showed that he has almost unreal powers and abilities. He even overshadowed a superb 38-point performance from Al Jefferson.
It now becomes clear that not only fantasy owners shouldn’t have traded away LeBron but in fact, they should have already done anything in their powers to acquire him. Of course LeBron might sit in a game or two at the end of the regular season, but after all, almost any team around the league might choose to rest its starters as we close in to the playoffs. Unless there exists a battle for a seed till the very last game, we might also see Kevin Durant sitting out or Paul George. Does that mean you should not have KD or George in your team and draft the players which will replace them? Just because they will play big minutes in one, two or three games? Hell no.
I am really surprised to hear those fantasy analysts urging owners to trade LBJ away. It’s like owning a diamond ring and going into a pawn shop to get a bronze one, hoping that the price of a diamond will fall in the next days, weeks or months. Come on, let’s be serious.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and such megastar players should never get traded away, unless a season-ending injury has occurred. One way or another, they will deliver huge numbers, numbers that normally two or three players would deliver in combination.
It’s notable that after his 61-point performance, LeBron James increased his PPG average by almost a single digit. Which other player could do that to your fantasy team? Maybe Carmelo Anthony or Durant? And that’s it. Those players with such abilities might not be more than four or five in the league. So would you trade them away for two or even three pieces?
The Miami Heat will most probably rest LeBron at the end of the regular season. However, we shouldn’t expect an extended absence. No matter if they Heat badly want the first overall seed in the East or not, they will not just give up the race that easily. The Heat are confident that they can beat the Pacers even without the home court advantage. But don’t expect them to stay out of the race if they are one or two games behind their rivals as we approach the end of the regular season. Instead, they will push to claim the top spot, mainly in order to gather momentum. So, expect LeBron to retain his fantasy value, if not improve it.