LeBron James gets left off of NBA’s top 10 as CBS Sports’ top 100 player rankings are released

Jesse Cinquini
5 Min Read

With the start of the 2023-24 NBA regular season less than two months away, CBS Sports recently released its list of the top 100 players in the league. Interestingly, though, Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James wasn’t ranked as a top-10 player in the NBA.

“It’s hard to say what’s more startling: that LeBron James is getting ranked outside of the top 10 for the first time since, probably, his rookie year, or that he could very easily reclaim a top-10 spot when we revisit these rankings in a year,” wrote Sam Quinn. “Remember, James averaged a cool 33-8-7 during the 23-game period starting with Anthony Davis’ mid-December injury and ending with an injury of his own in mid-February. When he was healthy last season, he was still the same force of nature he’s been for two decades. The hobbled star that led the Lakers to the Western Conference finals last spring wasn’t close to his best, and if his history is any indication, he’ll prove that this season.”

CBS Sports ranked James 12th, ahead of teammate Anthony Davis and behind Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who were ranked 13th and 11th, respectively.

“The 2022-23 season was a fairly clean distillation of the Anthony Davis experience,” added Quinn. “He’s going to miss 25 games or so over the course of a season, and he’s only going to reach his incredible offensive potential in around half of the games he does play. But his defense? It’s the best in the NBA and it’s not all that close. Davis averaged over four blocks per game in a first-round demolition of Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. before forcing the defending champion Warriors to completely reconfigure their offense on the fly to try to force him out of the paint in the second round. It didn’t work. Nothing except employing Nikola Jokic ever does. So long as the Lakers have Davis on the floor, they will have one of the NBA’s best defenses.”

James, 38, was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He has played for three teams — the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Lakers — across his 20 seasons in the NBA.

The 38-year-old has built one of the most impressive resumes of any player in NBA history. James is a 19-time All-Star, 19-time All-NBA selection, six-time All-Defensive Team selection, four-time MVP and three-time All-Star MVP.

Most importantly, though, James has led his teams to four NBA titles during his career in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2020. James’ first two titles came when he was a member of the Heat alongside stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat eliminated Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in five games in the 2012 NBA Finals and beat Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the 2013 NBA Finals.

Arguably James’ most impressive title came in 2016, though, when he played for the Cavaliers. Cleveland rallied all the way back from a 3-1 deficit against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals to win the series in seven games.

More recently, James and Davis helped lead the storied Lakers franchise to a title in 2020. The Lakers eliminated Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in six games in the 2020 NBA Finals. James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game for the series and won the Finals MVP award.

One can make a convincing argument that James is still a top-10 player in the NBA today despite being long in the tooth. After all, he is fresh off leading the Lakers to a Western Conference Finals appearance and was named to the 2022-23 All-NBA Third Team.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.