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Stephen Jackson doesn't believe LeBron James is a top-five player in the NBA

By Mike Santa Barbara,

Stephen Jackson in June 2020. Jack Gruber via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Former NBA veteran Stephen Jackson has some interesting opinions on who is and isn't worthy of being called one of the top players in today's game.

Appearing on the "I Am Athlete " podcast this week, Jackson put together his list of the current top five players in the league. Jackson's top five consisted of, in order, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, and Joel Embiid. While Jackson's list includes five of the best in the NBA, it has one glaring omission in the great LeBron James.

As the podcast's ensemble picked their jaws up off the floor, Jackson explained that younger talent had overtaken James.

"He's in my top three of all time," Jackson said. "But, right now in the league, he's not a top-five player."

On the surface, leaving James out sounds ludicrous, but Jackson's take isn't as hot as it seems.

Even at 39, James is still doing remarkable things on the court. But, over 39 games, James' numbers don't rank among the top five in any significant offensive category. James is averaging 29.9 points per game, good enough for seventh in the NBA. However, James' 7.0 assists (13th), 8.5 rebounds (28th), and 50.7 field goal percentage (39th) don't even crack the top 10 in the league.

James wasn't the only marquee name left off Jackson's list. Denver Nuggets two-time MVP Nikola Jokic also found himself outside Jackson's top five. While some might argue that leaving Jokic outside the top five is more egregious than James's snub, Jackson initially included him at No. 4 before swapping him out for Tatum.

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