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LeBron forecast: Next team, more titles and the GOAT debate

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LeBron's impressive week puts him on top of player rankings (1:46)

LeBron James beats out Damian Lillard and James Harden for the top spot in this week's NBA Player Rankings. (1:46)

Even in LeBron James' 15th season, his future and legacy remain among the NBA's greatest questions.

Where is he playing next? How many more titles will he win? Can he finish his career as the GOAT?

As he gets ready to chase his eighth straight Finals appearance, we polled the ESPN Forecast panel of experts for their votes on what's next.


How many more seasons will LeBron play after this one?

James already went from breaking the NBA aging curve to one of the worst months of his career and back in the span of three months this season -- a wild ride before the playoffs even tip. But The King reportedly spends more than seven figures a year taking care of his body. That's one reason our panel has him probably playing into his age-38 season.

MORE: How LeBron fixed his back and is on track to play all 82 games

How many more titles will LeBron win?

FiveThirtyEight's projections give the Cavs a 3 percent chance of winning the 2018 Finals. ESPN's Basketball Power Index has them at 0.2 percent. Even if Cleveland can flip a switch in the playoffs, another title for James looks like a long shot this season.

But James can become a free agent this summer, potentially boosting his odds at snagging a fourth championship (or more). Plus, the Cavs can still flip a top-10 pick from Brooklyn on draft night for a win-now piece. All of those possibilities have our panel overwhelmingly predicting at least one more ring in James' collection.

MORE: Future power rankings: Who will dominate the next three seasons? Insider

Where will LeBron play next season?

Free agency should once again revolve around James. Cleveland is the favorite here, though our panel has LeBron forming a new superteam in L.A. or joining one in Houston as other realistic possibilities.

MORE: Destination LeBron: Where could the King land in free agency?

Where does LeBron rank among the greatest players of all time?

James finished No. 3 in our all-time rankings two years ago, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan. Then he and the Cavs took down the 73-9 Warriors (Golden State blew a ... oh, you remember). The GOAT debate will never be settled, but it's only heating up.

MORE: All-time #NBArank: The greatest players ever

What does LeBron need to do to be considered the greatest player of all time?

Here's what our panel said:

  • "More titles."

  • "Nothing."

  • "Put together three straight championships."

  • "He needs at least one more title while winning Finals MVP. That plus an MVP might get him there."

  • "100 points in one game."

  • "Pass Kareem in scoring and win three more titles."

  • "Win more NBA championships."

  • "Win another title for Cleveland."

  • "Not possible -- MJ better, more consistent effort and built/stayed with one team for titles."

  • "I don't think LeBron will ever surpass Bill Russell."

  • "Shoot 3s."

  • "NBA's all-time leading scorer and two more titles."

  • "Rings strengthen the general public perception, so every ring he can get helps his case."

  • "He's already done it."

  • "Beat the Warriors."

  • "Multiple championships or show he can win a title without an elite supporting cast."

  • "Really show he can elevate his teammates, not just carry them."

  • "Win one more championship with the Cavs and win championships with three teams. Play at a high level until 40."

  • "Impossible."

  • "Win one more ring as the centerpiece of another franchise."