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  • Why is LeBron James projected to be a late pick in NBA fantasy 2023 mock drafts? Exploring reasons why 28.9 PPG scorer isn't a favorable selection
Looking at LeBron James' projected fantasy ranking at his position

Why is LeBron James projected to be a late pick in NBA fantasy 2023 mock drafts? Exploring reasons why 28.9 PPG scorer isn't a favorable selection

LeBron James and the LA Lakers are currently gearing up for the 2023-24 NBA season. With the preseason underway, fans are eagerly beginning to draft their fantasy NBA teams heading into the regular season. With that in mind, LeBron James has become somewhat of a controversial fantasy draft pick heading into the season despite the fact that he's fired up in all his previous 20 seasons.

When looking at many NBA fantasy draft guides, LeBron James is viewed as a second-round pick for the Small Forward position. While that may surprise fans given that James averaged 28.9 points per game last season along with 8.3 rebounds per game, James' availability has been questionable.

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With fantasy basketball scoring relying heavily on availability, the fact that LeBron James has dealt with injuries over the past few seasons is cause for concern. Last season, James only played in 55 games.

The season before, James again played in just 56 games, despite the fact that he averaged 30.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 6.2 apg. While those numbers are impressive in the context of an NBA season, when it comes to fantasy basketball, his lack of availability is concerning.

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If we go even further back to the 2020-21 season, LeBron James' case for being an early fantasy pick drops considerably. During the 2020-21 season, James dealt with a lingering groin injury, resulting in him playing just 45 games.

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Looking at other players in the same position besides LeBron James to draft in fantasy basketball

With fantasy basketball being position-locked, players who are interested in drafting LeBron James will be focused on a number of other picks at the SF position. While James may be one of the best players on the planet, there are other small forwards generating fantasy interest.

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Most notably, Jayson Tatum, who although has struggled in the playoffs, played in 74 games last season, and 76 games in the season before. In regard to last season, Tatum averaged career highs across the board with 30.1 ppg, 4.6 apg, and 8.8 rpg.

Given his availability and his output across the board, Tatum is expected to be a first-round target in fantasy leagues. Just behind him, those targeting small forwards will likely then choose between either drafting James or drafting Kevin Durant.

In the case of Durant, the generational talent finds himself in the same boat as James. Last season, Durant played in just 47 games, while the season before he played in just 55 games. Going back a year further to his first in Brooklyn during the 2020-21 season, Durant played in just 35 games.

With availability being just as big of a contributing factor in fantasy ranking as production, if not arguably more important, James' health is a serious question. Although he has been an incredibly durable player throughout his career, the twilight years of his career have seen his durability decline considerably.

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Edited by
Krutik Jain
 
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