A close look at LeBron James’s career numbers which are going unnoticed throughout the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff run.
Most players come into the league without a reliable jump shot, especially the best one, who arrive with gifts and skills that have more than compensate for its lack until then. But once in the league, it becomes necessary to develop a jumper, especially nowadays, with shooting playing such a big part in the game.
Things are further magnified for super talented prospects like LeBron, so great at many different things that it is even too easy for detractors to point at what they cannot do.
James’ everlasting athletic capabilities have made him a constant threat in the paint through the years, but as he was growing in a more mature player he had to build a shot to round up his game and become that real unstoppable force.
He earned lots of comparison with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant on how the two legendary guards developed their shot as they grew older and their athleticism began to fade, but the comparison does not really apply with LeBron, as his uber-athleticism never really faded and still remains.
Anyway, the comparison went on and critics were pretty harsh since LBJ never really managed to develop the outside touch at the level of the two previous. It was good enough to be a respectable part of his arsenal, but never so reliable to make it the main part of his game, like the other two did. Especially free throws remain the Achilles heel of his skillset.
This year, at 35 years old, LeBron finally transitioned at the point guard position and playing with a dominant big man like Anthony Davis meant he could rely on more looks in the paint for his teammate and spare his body some mile and some stress.
After all, as incredibly durable as he is, we know too well that father time is undefeated. Certainly, as the competitor he is, he would have certainly never be satisfied with that and he would definitely look for some other way to impact on offense.
What does today’s point guard do? They shoot the three.
Historically a good-to-mediocre three-point shooter, James connected 40 percent of his attempts only once in his career, and this regular season was not different, as he shot 34.8 percent from the arc. But he did it on a career-high 6.3 attempts, which then qualifies for a good season considering the high rate of attempts.
It looks like an average year for LeBron James, but stay with me because now things get interesting.
Well, actually not a big mystery to reveal, just the fact that in the playoffs, the most important part of the season, after four months of stop, he is shooting the lights out.
Attempting 5.8 threes per game, he is connecting a career-high 42.9 percent. His effective field goal percentage is also at a career-high 65.8. His true shooting percentage rose to an incredible 68.9 on a career-most 36.8 three-point attempt rate.
Also, his free throw percentage went up from 69.3 in the regular season to 74.4 in the playoffs. And with a career-low 22.3 field goal attempts per 100 possessions, he is having a career-third-best 124 offensive rating.
Furthermore, many of his attempts are coming from beyond 25 feet, making even more evident how hard he practiced and the achievement he got adjusting to the modern game.
LeBron James has really brought his game to another level to lead this team to the Finals, mastering the only piece that was missing to his dominant overall game. It would be a shame to waste such a record-setting season for the superstar.
He is proving all the doubters, all those that through the years claimed that he could not be at the level of MJ and Kobe because he did not have a jumper, that the shot can be a dangerous part of his game and another consistent tool to extend his incredibly long-living life in the NBA.