Yep. He's not going to be putting up 27/7/7 as a 38-40 year old. Whereas Davis is 25, and has back to back seasons of 28/11 with the best big man defence in the league, and Giannis is a 27/10/5 guy with strong versatile defence.
This "good years left in him" isn't good enough for a franchise-type player. He's on the back nine as of now. Sure he may have 2 or 3 years tops of greatness left but he could fall off quickly after that (he'll be 36/37 in 3 years). That's reason enough for me to take Davis, Durant and probably Giannis and Kawhi over Lebron.
James is the best player in the world right now. He seemingly has 5 years of at least good play left in him. GM's want to win and no player, perhaps ever, has had more impact on the W/L's of a team than Lebron James. There are no guarantees, especially with health, progression, etc. on any player, so why not pick the best player in the world that makes your team instantly credible as a team, especially when the real competition are either players near James in age, are significantly unproven, or have significant injury concerns.
The GM's have spoken. Giannis is the choice. interesting that even at his advanced age Lebron still garners 17% of the vote. Leads me to question the wisdom of GMs in the league that they'd build a franchise with a player who's coming to the end of their career in a few years.
If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – 30%
2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 23%
3. Kevin Durant, Golden State – 20%
4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers – 17%
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State – 7%
6. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia – 3%
Last year: Karl-Anthony Towns – 29%
Sure and New Orleans won only 34 games one of those years (48 last year). Maybe Davis has turned the corner on his play actually yielding wins, or maybe last year was a fluke. Big guys also generally deteriorate much more rapidly and at a much younger age then wings. Especially big guys that have had a history of injuries like Davis has. Despite being older, I think it is far more likely that James stays healthy over the next five years than Davis does.
Obviously at some point James will start to decline, but I don't think James is going to be great one year and then all of a sudden be mediocre. I think he will have a gradual decline and end up much more similarly to someone like Mailman or Kareem, who is still incredibly effective into their late 30's, rather then someone like Shaq who fell off a cliff rather rapidly. I mean at age 39 Malone started 81 games, played over 36 mpg and will still averaging over 20 a game. He won the MVP at age 35 and finished 4th the following season. Kareem was still scoring over 23 a game at age 38 and finished 5th in MVP voting that season (and was 4th in MVP voting each of the two years before that). He was the Finals MVP at 37.
This notion that James is 33 and therefore isn't still going to be great for awhile is a strange one given how his career has looked thus far. He takes incredible care of his body and has been pretty darn healthy in his career. He is still widely regarded as the best player in the world. Unless he gets hurt, he is going to be a top 5 player for at least the length of the Lakers contract, and maybe longer like the Mailman or Kareem. After all this is a guy that has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting every single year of his career and for the last 13 years has finished in the top 5 (and been top 3, 9 of the last 10 years). He is once again the favorite to win it this year after finishing 2nd last year.
That said, as I've said, if someone could assure me Davis was going to remain relatively healthy and be healthy for the playoffs for the next decade, I'd probably take him over James, but his injury concerns scare the crap out of me. So I think right now I'd take Giannis, James, Durant, Leonard, and Davis in that order. Mid-way through this season I'd probably elevate Leonard to 2 if he is looking like he did 2 years ago, but I need to see a decent sample size from him on that.