Is there any stopping LeBron?

March, 13, 2009
03/13/09
10:44
AM ET
Another game, another road win for the Cavaliers, another triple-double for The King.

LeBron James finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, three steals and three blocks in a game in which Cleveland entered the fourth quarter trailing (as they did on Tuesday at the Clippers) and made up all the ground they needed and more down the stretch to get the win. More significantly to the fantasy world, LeBron had his third consecutive triple-double. Over those three games, he hasn't only put up huge numbers in points, rebounds and assists, but he also has averaged two steals and two blocks as well.

I used this space Thursday to pay homage to the fantasy greatness of Chris Paul, who still is, at the moment, the best fantasy player in the land. LeBron is certainly in the conversation, though, and what he has done over the past three games statistically (despite not shooting well from the field) gives us a glimpse of that all-too-possible future in which LeBron throws up numbers like this for an entire season.

LeBron JamesNed Dishman/NBAE/Getty ImagesLeBron James is racking up the defensive stats, too.
The fact that he's putting up better defensive stats this season is no fluke, either; he's absolutely killing himself on both ends of the floor, and it shows up in every sort of stat you can imagine. The Cavaliers are pretty much the best team in the league when he's on the floor and an unmitigated disaster when he's on the bench. According to 82games.com, there isn't any starter in the entire league with a lower opponent's player efficiency rating than LeBron. Not only is he the best overall player in the league, not only is he in many ways the best offensive player in the league (in terms of his ability to score and create looks for teammates), but he's also perhaps the best defensive player in the league.

All of which makes it more amazing how good Chris Paul is in terms of fantasy value. The fact that CP3's combination of stats can even compare to LeBron's, much less be favorable, is completely astonishing. Still, it doesn't take much imagination to wonder how soon LeBron might be averaging a triple-double for a whole season. If that happens, even Paul will have to take a back seat to the King.

Under the boards

THURSDAY, MARCH 12
HIGHLIGHTS
• Pau Gasol, Lakers: 23 points (10-for-15 FG), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks against the Spurs.
Tony Parker, Spurs: 25 points (10-for-18 FG), 9 assists, 2 3-pointers against the Lakers.
Mo Williams, Cavaliers: 30 points, 6 3-pointers, 2 steals against the Suns.
LOWLIGHTS
Derek Fisher, Lakers: 10 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals against the Spurs.
Roger Mason, Spurs: 7 points (3-for-9 FG), 3 assists, 0 rebounds, 0 steals against the Lakers.
• Delonte West, Cavaliers: 6 points, 2 assists, 7 turnovers against the Suns.

After hardly playing for more than a week, Sasha Pavlovic managed 28 minutes against the Suns for the Cavs and scored 16 points. It's a fluke, though. He's too risky to start; when Delonte West is playing well, there are pretty much no minutes for Sasha. … Matt Barnes continues putting up great fantasy numbers, and he even led the Suns in minutes played against the Cavs. He should be owned in all formats at this point, but chances are he's available in your league anyway. … Here are Pau Gasol's numbers over his past five games: 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.6 blocks, 56 percent shooting from the floor, and 85 percent shooting from the line. Why isn't anyone talking about this guy? He's my favorite reason why Kobe shouldn't be the MVP; after all, Gasol was the best player on a 50-win team just a few seasons ago. Besides Manu Ginobili and Paul Pierce, Gasol is the best "second-best player" on a team in the league. … Michael Finley has been a great source of points and 3-pointers over the past few games (he had 25 points and five 3s against the Lakers), but remember that the stats will disappear once Ginobili comes back.

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