1. He has reinvented himself defensively
LeBron James was once one of the best defensive players in the entire league, mostly because he is so freakishly athletic that he would be able to use sheer willpower to dominate his opposition. However, he still was very skilled, and that is evident from his six All-Defensive Team nods.
LeBron’s reputation as a defender has taken a hit in the last five years or so. While he has always been capable of those jaw-dropping chase-down blocks and often defended when it mattered most, his defense became one of his primary criticisms.
Frankly put, he never really tried as much as he should have on the defensive end and would take certain possessions off. He rarely defended the other team’s best scorer for a consistent amount of time and took the back seat until it mattered most.
That has changed in 2020. While he is not one of the 10-best defensive players in the league, he has been much better defensively, which in large part is due to the team’s overall defense, Frank Vogel’s coaching and getting to expend less energy on the offensive side of the court because of Anthony Davis.
LeBron is already at 3.4 defensive win shares this season, which is the most he has had since the 2015-2016 season. If he continues to play at the exact same pace and the Lakers play 82 games then he will finish with 4.5 defensive win shares.
That would be his best mark since the 2012-2013 season, which was the last time he made the All-Defensive First Team.