Eric Risberg/Associated Press
As LeBron James enters his 17th NBA season, Bleacher Report is taking a look at where the four-time MVP sits in the history books in several statistical categories now, after his projected 2019-20 season and following the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.
Already near the top of the all-time leaderboards in numerous categories, James has passed some of the game’s greatest players, and even more legends are about to be bumped down the rankings.
First up in this series was total minutes played, both in the regular season and postseason. In part two of All the King’s Records, we look at where James could finish his career in all-time blocks, steals and rebounds.
Blocks: 2019-20 and Future Projections
When attempting to predict James’ stats both now and in the future, we’ll once again be basing his numbers on 71 games played per season, as that’s the average amount of time he’s spent on the court over the past five years. That allows James to miss 11 total games for injury or rest.
Projecting his final career standings for all stats is done under the assumption he’ll play five more years, meaning a retirement at age 39 following 21 total seasons.
Despite his size and athleticism, James has never been a true shot-blocking threat, as is the case with most wings. While he owns a highlight reel of chase-down blocks, spending 70 percent of his career court time at either small forward or a guard position and not in the paint has limited his rise in this category. His career high is 1.1 blocks per game, achieved during both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. Over James’ 16-year career, he owns an average of 0.8 rejections per contest.
Still, his longevity puts him near the top 100 players of all time, sitting at No. 110 overall heading into the 2019-20 season.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Projecting where James goes from here can be tricky. Those who have watched his regular-season defense over the past few years know his effort level can be lacking at times, which certainly takes away the number of chase-downs. His 0.6 blocks per game last season tied for the second-lowest average of his career.
There’s also the matter of where the Lakers will choose to play him. In his final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017-18, James spent 63 percent of his court time at power forward and center, resulting in a spike in his blocks (0.9 per game). That number dropped to just 37 percent last year, which helps explain his lack of rejections.
With the additions of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jared Dudley, along with the returns of Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee, James could see even less time in the post.
The extra time on the wing, combined with a declining enthusiasm for regular-season defense in general, means James’ block average could continue to slip. But he’s averaged 0.6 blocks per game in three of the last four seasons, so that seems like an accurate projection for 2019-20, as well.
Swatting 0.6 shots per contest over a 71-game sample would result in 43 total blocks and move his career total from 921 to a projected 964. That would spark only a slight move up from 110th to 101st overall on the all-time leaderboard.
Such a jump would mean passing players like Scottie Pippen, Sam Perkins and former Miami Heat teammate Chris Bosh while putting James one block behind No. 100 Bill Laimbeer. James is also in the company of some current players (Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Robin Lopez, Rudy Gobert) who could either continue their climbs above him or surpass the 34-year-old in the standings.
If James maintains his 0.6 blocks per game over the next five years, here’s where he’d finish in all-time rejections without factoring in movement from other current