So if a LeBron James who shot 48 percent from the field was considered dangerous, what about one who shoots 54 percent?
And if a LeBron who drained threes at a 32 percent clip still dominated the competition, how about when he ups that to 44 percent?
20 games into this season, numbers which seemed more likely in a video game have become a reality for the NBA's reigning MVP.
Does “lose-control-of-bodily-functions scary” indicate the proper amount of fright opponents are feeling?
Good players find a way to do one or two things better than most others. Great players will consistently do several things that raise their games above almost everyone else.
But transcendent players will not just do the aforementioned, but focus on whatever their weakness might be and turn it into a strength.
In other words, King James has become a transcendent NBA player.
In his 10 years in the league, getting to the basket with ease was never an issue. Outmaneuvering the competition through sheer strength and skill, be it via power or finesse, came naturally. But spotting up to shoot the ball with a level of consistency required some work.
And work, he did. The proof is in the pudding—or at least in the stats. For seven consecutive years now, James has improved his field goal percentage. The improvement has paid off in the form of currently ranking 10th in the league in with a .542 mark.
To put that into perspective, let’s take a look at those ahead of him: None of them average more than 11.3 shots per game (James averages 18.7), only one (Dwight Howard) averages more than 15 points per game (James averages 25.5) and just one (Kenneth Faried, of course) is as “short” as LeBron at 6’8’’.
And, unlike most of those ahead of him, he’s doing much of his damage outside of the paint. According to basketball-reference.com, of the 373 total shots James has put up thus far this season, 182 of them, or roughly 49 percent, have been outside of 10 feet away.
In other words, he’s earned his spot in the rankings.
But this goes beyond just some added icing on the statistical cake of a Hall-of-Fame career. It should feasibly translate into further dominance by the Miami Heat.
By adding a deadly jump shot to his killer resume, James now stretches the floor and forces the opposing big man to step up toward the perimeter to either double-team or threaten to, leaving more opportunities for the Heat’s undersized center, Chris Bosh, and easier looks at the rim.
There’s proof in his pudding, too: Bosh currently ranks right behind James in field goal percentage at .540. Last year, he was .487 and his career high was .518 in 2009-10 while he was still with the Toronto Raptors.
In other words, apropos for the holiday season, LeBron’s newest gift is the one that keeps on giving.
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