Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While the Cleveland area fans and LeBron James are enjoying a banner year, his team's success is having the opposite effect on James' fantasy statistics.
Last year, LeBron's statistics were stunning - 30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg and 7.2 apg. as he led the Cavaliers to a 45-37 record and a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
But in the first 20 games of the 2008-09 season, James' Cleveland team are a stellar 17-3. They are not only winning, but winning easily...and by huge margins. This is a great thing for the local fans, but isn't as good for James owners.
Over the first five years of James' career, the Cavs were 222-188, a winning percentage of .541. More importantly, the team played a lot of close, down-to- the-wire games which required James to stay on the court until the final buzzer. The team's average margin of victory during that time was +.92 points.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this year's squad is crushing opponents. Their current margin of victory is a spectacular 13.3 ppg. Because of that, James' minutes have fallen from 40.4 minutes-per-game last year, and a career average of 40.8 minutes, to just 35 minutes.
It's very difficult to score from the bench, even for "King James" and so his numbers for this season are down. James' scoring average is just 26.5 ppg and his rebounds and assists are also down (7.0 rpg, 6.5 apg).
There is certainly precedence for this drop in production. When we look at Michael Jordan's career, we can see a similar pattern.
In the five years when the Bulls were most dominant (1991, '92, '96, '97, '98) and won by an average margin of seven points-per-game or more, MJ's stats were: 30.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.7 apg. But in his other full seasons, Jordan averaged 33.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 6.0 apg. Like James, his minutes played were down as well - from 39.5 mpg to 37.9 mpg.
The bottom line is, if you want James' numbers to rebound, you have to hope that the Cavaliers start to play down to their competition.