LeBron James has without a doubt been the best player in the NBA over the past decade, and is one of the best players to ever play in the NBA historically. Some even argue that he is the greatest of all time. The vast majority still sees Michael Jordan as the best to ever play, but there is no denying that LeBron is a special player. LeBron has won four MVP trophies, made 13 All Star appearances, been named to 13 All NBA teams, been named to six All NBA defensive teams, and been awarded much more throughout his illustrious career.
LeBron James has also been great enough to win three NBA championships, but his time may be winding down as a legitimate contender. Many things factor into winning a championship. LeBron James has been seen as superhuman, and he has been able to silence the critics in years past. Not all of the things that go into winning a championship are in LeBron’s control. It is easy to have the hot take that James may never win another championship, and this opinion can be derived from the Cleveland Cavaliers just getting steamrolled in the 2017 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors.
Is this the End of an Era? Here are 10 Reasons Lebron James Won’t Win Another Championship and 5 Reasons he still can:
15 Can't: There are potential up and coming teams in the Eastern Conference
The Eastern Conference may not pose much of a threat at this time, but there are three teams in particular that will be looking to take control of the East in the next couple years. The Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Boston Celtics are up and coming teams that will threaten LeBron James' dominance of the Eastern conference. The Bucks have a young nucleus filled with talented young players such as the Greek Freak, Jabari Parker, and company, and could be a nightmare for the Cavs if they ever traded for or signed a star player to add on to their young roster.
The Philadelphia 76ers not only have young talent with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons but also have future assets.
The Boston Celtics faced LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals and lost badly, but they have the cap room to sign a star player and also hold the first pick in this year's draft.
14 Can: The East is Still weak as of today
The Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James won 12 of the 13 games they played in the playoffs against their eastern conference rivals. James made easy work of the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors by sweeping them, and only lost one game against the Celtics in the conference finals because of an Avery Bradley three pointer that went in during the final seconds of Game 3. The Cavaliers are still by far the best team in the east, and going into next season they will still be the heavy favorite to repeat as eastern conference champions.
The Celtics could be big time players in free agency this summer, and they have the first pick in the draft which they can either use or trade away to acquire Paul George or Jimmy Butler, but there's still a lot of questions to be answered.
13 Can't: LeBron may not be the best player in the NBA anymore
Paul Pierce said on national TV that Kevin Durant is now the best player in the NBA. Pierce is a sure fire hall of famer who just finished up his career this past season with the Los Angeles Clippers, so he is extremely familiar with the current landscape of the NBA. Durant was undoubtedly the best player in the 2017 NBA finals. He outplayed Lebron James, and also showed up more in the fourth quarter of games than James did in the series. James also struggled defensively in the series allowing over 50 percent of shots to go in on players he defended. Durant’s finals performance is also very fresh, and he seems to be thriving in his prime while James may be exiting his prime years sooner rather than later.
12 Can: The emergence of Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is a star player in the NBA, and this has been proven through his four trips to all star weekend. It is difficult to became a superstar in the NBA, but Irving may be referenced in that category now. This past season he improved his scoring average to a career high 25 points a game and shot 40 percent from behind the three point line. His drastically improved numbers show that his game is trending upward, and he is doing all of this at the ripe young age of 25. This emergence as one of the best point guards in basketball could make up for LeBron James possible regression as he gets older. It is clear and been said by James that the Cavs are Kyrie Irving’s team in the future, and Irving could help James compete for more championships in the coming years.
11 Can't: LeBron is too involved in building the team
Earlier this season Lebron James complained about the way the team was built after a demoralizing loss to an inferior opponent in the New Orleans Pelicans. He was highly critical of general manager David Griffin saying the team was extremely top heavy, and that the 2016-17 Cavaliers were not as good as the previous year’s team that won a championship. James wanted the Cavs to get a playmaker. Management responded by getting players such as Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, and others. James may want to study the history of Kobe Bryant and the debacle in the way his career ended with the Lakers. Kobe was also very involved in building the team in a way that made the Lakers suffer, and James could be going down that same road as his career reaches the back nine.
10 Can: The Cavs could improve their roster
This will be a difficult task due to the Cavaliers not having much salary cap space, but revamping the roster may have to involve a major trade. Kevin Love has long been rumored to be a potential trade chip for the Cavs. It isn’t out of the question for the Cavs to make a trade involving Kevin Love just to get some new blood on the team, and it is obvious that LeBron James feels the team is very top heavy. The Cavs also have a bit of an aging roster. They need to look to the draft to get young cheap talent, and they need their draftees to produce more than current rookie Kay Felder has given them. LeBron James can win another championship if they make these kinds of improvements to the roster.
9 Can't: The Cavs have no cap space
The salary cap for the 2016-17 NBA season was $94 million, and the Cavaliers have gone $20 million over the salary cap to build their current roster. It's hard to find a team that doesn’t have a bad contract on their roster. The Cavaliers have three players with really bad contracts that hold them back in the present and the future, and LeBron James vouched for these guys to get these contracts. Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith won’t be free agents till the summer of 2020 and will make on average $16 million and $14 million annually. That is a lot of money for role players that aren’t even scoring in double figures for you in the 2017 NBA finals, and Iman Shumpert also makes over $10 million a year but has not produced much.
8 Can: The Warriors could break up
The Golden State Warriors are by far the best team in the NBA, but they do have five upcoming free agents going into this summer. The two key free agents are Kevin Durant (possible opt-out) and Steph Curry who will both be unrestricted free agents this summer. It is not likely but what if one of these two decides to sign elsewhere, and Andre Iguoudala, Shaun Livingston, and Zaza Pachulia could also choose to go elsewhere this summer if they get an enticing enough offer? Klay Thompson has also been rumored to want to be a number one option. Thompson won’t be a free agent until next summer, but the Warriors may trade him because they may fear that he won’t re-sign with the team. If the Warriors break up LeBron James might have an easier challenge in the NBA finals in the future.
7 Can't: The Warriors could also further improve their roster
The Golden State were able to improve their bench in the summer of 2016 by getting David West and Javale McGee, and have been great at drafting players late like Draymond Green in the second round. Even with limited cap space the Warriors may be able to make their team even better next year. If they can get an unlikely above average player at the end of the first round or in the second round in the draft they could improve their bench while getting younger. They could also bring in another veteran on a minimum salary to help contribute like a David West type. It isn’t out of the question that the Warriors would trade Klay Thompson but it probably will not come to fruition, and it’s not outlandish to think the Warriors could improve their bench while re-signing Steph Curry and Kevin Durant this summer.
6 Can: He could Join another team
As soon as the Cleveland Cavaliers looked destined to lose the NBA finals, rumors circulated that LeBron James could potentially move on from the Cavs in 2018, and the teams with the great chance of nabbing James are the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. James does have a home that is not too far from the Staples Center which is home to both the Lakers and Clippers. James is also very close with current Clippers point guard Chris Paul, and Paul could lure James to the Clippers (if he himself stays) in hopes of winning his first NBA title. The Miami Heat were able to take away James from them in 2010, and it would make sense for James to want to chase another championship in 2018 if the Cavs can’t improve the team.
5 Can't: San Antonio Spurs may finally become players in free agency
The San Antonio Spurs historically have never been big time players in free agency, and have relied heavily on their drafted stars such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and Kawhi Leonard since Gregg Popovich became head coach. That all changed when the Spurs opened up their check book and brought in LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol the past couple of years, and they are rumored to be suiters for Clippers point guard Chris Paul in free agency. If the Spurs get Paul this would give LeBron James another tough test in the NBA finals. Even if the Warriors didn’t make it to the finals and the Spurs did, the Cavs would still be heavy underdogs, and The Spurs would again tarnish LeBron’s NBA Finals legacy.
4 Can't: LeBron is getting older
LeBron James has been in the NBA since he was 18 years old, and he will turn 33 years old in December of 2017. This is usually a time when basketball players begin to regress. LeBron started earlier than many other basketball players in history due to him forgoing college, and it is legitimate question as to how long LeBron can keep playing at an elite level. James is a freak of an athlete and will probably be able to play at a high level at least until the age of 35. LeBron James has done a lot of things we have never seen before, but it would be shocking if he kept his play at the level it is now into his late thirties.
3 Can't: Exhaustion from playing so much
It is an amazing feat that LeBron James has willed his teams to the NBA Finals each of the last seven seasons. He brought the Heat to the finals from 2011 through 2014, and brought the Cavs to the finals from 2015 through 2017. As amazing as this has been games add up, and LeBron constantly has to play close to 100 games every year because he leads his team to the finals every year. Exhaustion can lead to injury and/or less effective play. LeBron has chosen to rest during the season to try and keep himself fresh for the playoffs, but as he gets older his body won’t be able to handle the heavy game load that he has played in past years going forward.
2 Can't: Poor Supporting Cast outside Big 3
The core of the Cleveland Cavaliers roster are LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, and outside of these superstars the roster is devoid of above average talent. Tristian Thompson has been a major disappointment since he signed a big contract extension with the team last year. Many of the role players are also old like Richard Jefferson, Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, and James Jones, and others have bloated contracts such as J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert. These three bad contracts make it difficult for the team to improve the roster. It is clear now that the Cavs roster needs to improve in order for them to win another championship. If they fail to improve the supporting cast it will be tough for them to compete for a championship even in the up and coming younger east, and LeBron will fail to win a title if he stays with Cleveland and the roster is unchanged.
1 Can't: Cleveland has a history of poor sports
The Cleveland sports curse is a superstition that has been unkind to the city of Cleveland for many years now, and the Cavaliers championship in 2016 may have just been a mirage. The Cleveland Browns are the most notably cursed team in the city. The Browns have not won a championship since 1964, and the Cleveland Indians baseball team embarrassingly gave up a 3-1 series lead in the World Series to lose to the Chicago Cubs last year. The Indians have the longest title drought of any team in Cleveland not having won it since 1948. LeBron James calls Cleveland home and has spent most of his life in the area, but his odds of winning a championship in such a plagued sports town do not seem to probable.