LeBron James is vastly underrated. Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s got millions of fans all over the world but still, he’s not getting enough praise for what he’s done throughout his 17-year career.
I mean, some players are able to play at an elite level during his prime and stay there for 3-4 more years. James, on the other hand, seems to have a bit of an endless prime, as he’s been dominating since day one all the way to his very last matchup.
James is the youngest player to score 1,000; 5,000; 10,000; 15,000; 20,000; 25,000; and 30,000 career points. He’s averaged 27.1 points per game through his career yet people don’t see him as a scorer.
Truth to be told, there has never been a player as consistent as LeBron James. He’s amid his 17th year in the league and you can still count on him to post 27-9-10 any given night as if he was 27 years old. However, and despite making it to 8 straight trips to the NBA Finals, he hasn’t won the MVP award since 2013.
That’s why we think James is underrated. Either he’s not getting the respect he deserves anymore because of his age, or perhaps we’re just getting used to him being so great that we take him for granted. We expect him to win every night or else, he’ll get punished harder than any other player.
So, without further introduction, we’re going to make our case for James being the consistency king, letting you know about all the times he’s finished in the top 5 of the MVP voting:
2003-04 LeBron James
20.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 41% FG
LeBron proved that he was ready to dominate the league straight out of high school and made it to the NBA as the first overall pick out of St. Vincent-St. Mary. Needless to say, he didn’t disappoint during his rookie season, where he averaged a career-low 20.9 points.
The Cavaliers went from winning just 17 games to 35 when James made it to the league. They obviously didn’t make it to the playoffs as they finished 9th in the Eastern Conference, but James had the 9th most votes in the MVP race.
2004-05 LeBron James
27.2 PPG,7.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 47% FG
James really turned the corner during his sophomore year and improved in all major stats, as well as his efficiency as a scorer. He could’ve even won the Most Improved Player award that season after leading the Cavaliers to a 42-40 record.
The Cavaliers were snubbed once again out of a playoff berth as they finished 9th in the East. James led the league in minutes per game (42.4) and came in 6th in the MVP voting, which was quite impressive for a second-year player.
2005-06 LeBron James
31.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 48% FG
James once again put a lot of work on his game and improved in most major stats. He looked like he had been in the league for over a decade and dominated from start to finish, leading the Cavaliers to a 50-win season and a playoff berth.
The 4th seeded Cavaliers were able to get past the first round of the playoffs but lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 7 games. James climbed all the way to 2nd in the MVP race that year.
2006-07 LeBron James
27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 47% FG
LeBron’s numbers suffered a bit of regression during his fourth season in the league. Still, he kept on embracing his role as the leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers and even led them to another 50-win season and the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers ended up making it to the NBA Finals but the San Antonio Spurs swept them despite LeBron’s biggest efforts. He finished 5th in the MVP voting that year despite how he dominated through the regular season.
2007-08 LeBron James
30.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 48% FG
LeBron was definitely on a mission after losing in the Finals the prior year. He led the league in scoring for the first time on his career and was clearly more aggressive every night out there. Still, his Cavs won just 45 games that season en route to the 4th seed.
James took it up a notch in the playoffs and led the Cavaliers past the Wizards in the first round, but the almighty Boston Celtics were just too much to handle in the next round. He finished in 4th in the MVP race.
2008-09 LeBron James
28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 48% FG
2008-09 LeBron was simply a beast. He wasn’t going to be denied and even led a subpar Cavaliers team to a franchise-best 66 season. Against all odds, they finished the season as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.
However, Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic got the best of them in 6 games in the ECF, denying us of the LeBron-Kobe matchup in the Finals we all wanted to see. At least, he won the first of his four MVP awards.
2009-10 LeBron James
29.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 50% FG
James worked harder than ever during the offseason and was able to lead the Cavaliers to 61 wins next year. They ended up again at the top of their Division and the Eastern Conference but the Boston Celtics beat them again in the second round.
It was a bit of a breaking point for a soon-to-be free agent James, who won his second MVP that year but became the most hated guy in town as he decided to ‘take his talents to South Beach’ and join the Miami Heat.
2010-11 LeBron James
26.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 51% FG
James was thrilled with the opportunity to join forces with his lifelong friend Dwyane Wade and perennial All-Star Chris Bosh. For the first time in his career, he wouldn’t have to carry all of the offensive burden and load for his team.
The Heat’s Big 3 made their way to the Finals in their first year together. Still, Dirk Nowitzki and his Mavericks pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. James, on the other hand, finished in 3rd in the MVP voting.
2011-12 LeBron James
27.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 53% FG
LeBron James and the Miami Heat were determined to prove all of his doubters wrong and win their first Championship as a core. Led by the King, Spoelstra’s team won 62 games and hung on to the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference.
They faced an inexperienced and young Oklahoma City Thunder team in the Finals and got the best of them in 5 games. James won the third MVP of his career and finally became an NBA Champion, also winning Finals MVP.
2012-13 LeBron James
26.8 PPG, 8.0RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 56% FG
LeBron James was at the top of the world back in the 2012-13 season. He was coming off his first Championship and the Miami Heat won 66 games as the most unstoppable force in the Eastern Conference. Notably, they made it back to the NBA Finals.
James finally got his long due vengeance over the San Antonio Spurs by beating them in 7 games thanks to Ray Allen’s incredibly clutch shot in Game 6. Also, he won his fourth MVP award, the last one until this day.
2013-14 LeBron James
27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 56 % FG
James wanted to make history as one of the greatest players in the history of the game by winning a three-peat, something that hadn’t been done since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal did it with the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s.
The Heat won 58 games and finished in 2nd in the East. They faced the Spurs again in the Finals but lost in 5 games, putting an end to the Big 3 era in Florida. James finished 2nd in the MVP race to Kevin Durant.
2014-15 LeBron James
25.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 52% FG
James was welcomed back with open arms by his hometown crowd four years after burning his jerseys. He joined forces with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and he brought back hope to a team that had mightily struggled since his departure.
LeBron turned the team around and led them to 53 wins and the 2nd seed in the East. He even took them to the Finals, but the Warriors and his teammates’ injuries cost him the ring. He finished 3rd in the MVP voting.
2015-16 LeBron James
25.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 6.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 52% FG
LeBron James pulled off arguably the most impressive milestone of his career during the 2015-16 season. He led the Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals after winning 57 games and leading the East and beat the most dominant team the regular-season had ever seen.
The Cavaliers were the first team in NBA history to come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals. They beat the 73-win Warriors in seven games and James finally brought a Championship back home. However, he came in 3rd again.
2016-17 LeBron James
26.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 54% FG
James was right back there at the top of the GOAT conversation after doing what most people thought was impossible. He led the Cavaliers to a 51-win season, ended up 2nd in the East, and took them all the way back to the NBA Finals.
However, the Golden State Warriors got the best of him in 5 games and put an end to the Kyrie Irving era in Cleveland. James ended up 4th in the MVP voting and his legacy was questioned once again.
2017-18 LeBron James
27.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 54% FG
There were rumors looming around claiming LeBron James was going to leave the Cavaliers again if they didn’t win the Championship. So, the team’s management brought in a lot of reinforcements including Dwyane Wade, and Derrick Rose.
Those signings and trades eventually didn’t pay off but the King still led them to the Finals, where the almighty Warriors swept them. He finished in 2nd in the MVP race and left to join the Lakers next season.
2018-19 LeBron James
27.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 51% FG
James was poised to take his legacy to a whole new level by taking the Lakers back to Championship contention. However, a groin injury forced him to miss 27 games right when they were at their best, so they ended missing the playoffs again.
LeBron finished in 11th in the MVP voting after missing that much time with the worst injury of his career. The Lakers fired Luke Walton and put together a major roster overhaul by trading away most of their young core.
2019-20 LeBron James
25.7 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 10.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 49% FG
LeBron James took it to himself to prove all his doubters wrong this season and he sure did a fine job. The Lakers had a 5.5 lead in the Western Conference before the suspension and he was leading the league in assists for the first time on his career.
James and the Lakers looked like the team to beat out the West and James was finally motivated to play defense again with Anthony Davis by his side. Before the season was suspended, he was 2nd in the MVP voting. Yes, at 35 years old. Talking about consistency, huh.