LeBron, Wemby, Maxey Now Eligible For 2023/24 Awards

Lakers forward LeBron James, Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama, and Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey all reached the 65-game benchmark on Friday, making them eligible to win end-of-season awards, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (all Twitter links).

James has technically appeared in just 64 regular season games, but the in-season tournament final in December counts toward the 65-game requirement despite not counting toward the Lakers’ regular season record. That will also be the case for players like Anthony Davis – who surpassed the 65-game threshold earlier this month – and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, who is three games away.

James is no longer a perennial MVP candidate like he was earlier in his career, but he has a legitimate case for an All-NBA spot, having averaged 25.2 points, 8.1 assists, and 7.3 rebounds in 35.2 minutes per game across his 64 starts, with a shooting line (.530/.401/.751) well above his career norm. If LeBron earns one of those 15 berths this season, he’d extend his record for career All-NBA nods to 20, five more than any other player in league history.

Reaching the 65-game threshold is perhaps less crucial for Wembanyama, since it’s not required to qualify for Rookie of the Year or an All-Rookie team. However, it’s necessary to earn votes for Defensive Player of the Year, and while Rudy Gobert is the frontrunner for that award, Wembanyama has a shot at it. The rookie phenom has averaged a double-double (21.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG) and led the NBA in blocks per game (3.4) at age 20.

Wembanyama fell just short of the 20-minute minimum in one of his 65 appearances this season, but he logged over 19 minutes in that contest. A player is permitted to count up to two sub-20 minute games toward his 65-game total if he played at least 15 minutes in those games.

As for Maxey, he’s a leading contender for this season’s Most Improved Player award, having increased his averages to 25.6 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 3.7 RPG in his fourth NBA season. His shooting percentages (.445 FG%, .374 3PT%) are down from last year, but he has been tasked with more offensive responsibilities in Philadelphia following James Harden‘s departure and Joel Embiid‘s knee injury.

Maxey also has a case for All-NBA honors, which could have an impact on his restricted free agency this summer. As Marks notes (via Twitter), claiming an All-NBA spot would make the Sixers guard eligible for a Rose Rule contract starting at up to 30% of the cap (instead of 25%). Such a deal would be worth up to a projected $245.3MM over five years instead of $204.5MM.

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