It may be time to officially dub LeBron James a point guard. While he's often been an offensive initiator throughout his career, James has legitimately taken over as the primary ball-handler for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. It's safe to say, his move to the point has been a rousing success so far.
Through 17 games, LeBron leads the NBA with 11.0 assists per game, while still averaging 25.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. What's most amazing about James' transformation this year is how he's doing compared to the rest of his storied career.
At 35, James is putting up several career-bests. Aside from posting a career-high in assists, he's also turning in his best assists per 40 mark (12.5) and his best assist rate (29.7). Meanwhile, his turnover rate (9.4) is lower than most of his career. Meanwhile, his PER has shot back up to 27.56 and ranks sixth in the NBA. James is also currently assisting on a ridiculous 51.9 percent of his teammate's field goals when he's on the floor, which is tops in the NBA.
Despite sharing a a big portion of the scoring load with Anthony Davis, James ranks among the NBA's best in several important analytic categories. He's fourth in win shares (3.1), fifth in box plus/minus (9.2) and fourth in value over replacement player (1.7).
Even with Davis taking away touches, James is essentially as valuable as he's always been thanks to his move to the point.
Adding Davis has certainly made life easier for LeBron and the rest of the Lakers. He's one of the best defenders in the NBA and his offensive style (pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, feed in the post) fits LeBron's perfectly. That said, James has embraced having Davis on the floor and has made a concerted effort to get him the ball, while also getting the rest of his teammates involved.
This is the player James has needed to become as he's aged: A distributor who can take over late in games, but relies on those around him during the middle portion of games. It will make the insane amount of minutes he logs less impactful if he's not taking a beating consistently.
Yes, James needs to work from the post against smaller players and not rely on his perimeter jumper, but the way to minimize the impact he'll face is setting his teammates -- like Davis -- up to do the dirty work.
This new version of LeBron James is also incredibly fun to watch. He seems to be consistently enjoying himself for the first time in years. His general mood seems to be on a "Post Malone listening to Shania Twain" level.
Whatever James is doing this season is working and his Lakers teammates are reaping the rewards.