Sometimes numbers don’t mean much, but when it comes to LeBron James, they might not be telling the whole story, and yet his shooting statistics this season and especially over the last few games are excellent indication of just how special his 10th NBA season is.
At the moment, LeBron James is shooting 56.2% from the field while attempting 18.4 shots per game. Over the last 20 years, only one other player finished a season with over 56% from the field while attempting 18 shots or more – Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal did it nine times during his career, but there’s a difference between making so much of them while spending your life in the paint and making it as a Small Forward, who also attempts more than three 3 point attempts per game.
His recent 5 game stretch, averaging 31 points while shooting 71.4% from the field is slightly better than Michael Jordan’s best ever five game stretch with 69.6% from the field. Not that it matters, but it probably does, just a bit. LeBron James isn’t wearing #23 anymore, but the comparisons to Jordan will start coming more and more frequently if he translates his regular season success for a second straight year into an NBA title.
What seems even more impressive is his shot selection, especially early on in games. Over the last five games, James has missed just one first quarter shot, making 20 of 21, or 95.2% of his field goal attempts if it helps you comprehend.
Earlier this season James said he can compete with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony for the scoring title if he tried. He simply is focusing on other things. Anthony is leading the NBA with 29 points per game, followed by Durant with 28.9, Bryant with 27.4 and James at fourth with 27 per game. But it’s James’ efficiency that makes it so special: In his 19 games since we hit 2013, James has made at least 50% of his shots 17 times. Carmelo Anthony, for comparison, shooting 45.4% from the field this season, only has 16 games this entire season over .500.
And don’t forget, while being the main scoring option on the Heat, James is also the guy in charge of play calling and making. He’s leading the team in assists with 6.9 per game. His eFG%, something some people think is a better indicator for how good a player is shooting right now, is .600. It’s third best in the NBA, behind two centers who don’t take nearly as much shots as he does – Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan. The next non-center on the list? Jose Calderon at sixth with 58.2%.
Calderon and Steve Nash are the only two players in the NBA who can match James’ assist and three point shooting numbers – James is making 42.1% of his shots from downtown, good enough for 18th in the NBA. A list you rarely find high volume scorers on, although both Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are above him when it comes to three-point accuracy.
For the big finish? James is currently making more than 56% of his field goal attempts and 42% of his threes, attempting more than 100 three pointers this season (159). No one, in NBA history, has been that good while taking that many shots.