That’s according to Richard Jefferson, a long-term friend of James who believes the three-time NBA champion is ready to disprove his doubters once again.
There was plenty of anticipation on what the Lakers could have achieved last year once James signed for them in free agency.
But after climbing as high as fourth in the Western Conference by Christmas, injuries soon derailed their season as they missed out on the playoffs.
However, there are even more expectations on the Lakers this upcoming season after trading for Anthony Davis with DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Kozma on their roster.
This summer has seen a large number of All-Star calibre players changing teams such as Russell Westbrook joining the Houston Rockets; Paul George and Kawhi Leonard teaming up on the Clippers while Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joined forces on the Brooklyn Nets.
Still, the Lakers are seen as many people’s favourites to lift the NBA title come the end of the season.
James’ reputation took a hit last season due after missing out on the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season.
But Jefferson, who won the 2016 NBA title alongside James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, believes the 34-year-old is raring to prove all his doubters wrong.
“If he is healthy he will be one or two, and with Kevin Durant out this season and a lot of players joining up… LeBron James will be the best player in basketball next year again,” he said on ESPN’s Get Up!
“Will he be the LeBron James from ’08 and chasing down blocks? No. But he’s going to do so many different things and with Kyle Kuzma and Anthony Davis on his team, he’s going to be able to be that dominant guy again.
“I think he understands the disrespect.
“He’s felt it over the course of his career at different levels, now it’s like your ‘oh, you’re old. You had your first injury, now you’re not that guy anymore’.
“I think he is more focused on proving to people that basketball is the most important thing to him and the only way to do that is to go and destroy as many people as possible.”
The NBA schedule was released on Monday, with the Lakers set to play on the opening night on October 22.
The debut of James and Davis will see them face off in a hotly anticipated Los Angeles rivalry against the Clippers.
George may not be fit to play for Doc Rivers’ side after undergoing shoulder surgery, but Leonard will be there to make his Clippers debut.
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