LeBron shooting percentages are rising again

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron joked earlier in the preseason about shooting 60% from the field. Well it's not a joke anymore, it's happening. And he's being more efficient than ever before.

With the Miami Heat coming off of back-to-back NBA Championships, there was bound to be some generated story lines from players to grab some attention heading into another season.  James made an interesting headline to start the season with this:

"I don't really set out goals as far as what I want to shoot from the field," James said. "I know I want to take good shots and I know I want to be in attack and if that results in [60 percent] then it will be great, but I want to get the best shot for myself and for our team every possession."

So it grabbed some headlines, and we wrote about it. But did we really think it would happen? Come on! 60% field goal percentage is for the centers, the low post guys, the guys who score primarily on dunks and layups. It's not for the guys taking jumpers, threes, and responsible for the entire offense.

But here we are 14 games into the NBA season, and LeBron is making us wonder just how good he really can be. Let's take a look at some of the numbers.

Stats
This season, LeBron is shooting nearly 61% from the field. That's including 48% from the three-point line. For his first three years in Miami, he has increased his shooting percentage from 51% to 53% to 56% last year. Now, James is on the rise again. His 61% mark makes him second only to Andre Drummond in the NBA. He's the only player in the top 5 who is not a center. 61% is a huge increase for LeBron who's career average is 49%.

He's also doing it from downtown. Shooting 48% from three is almost something we would never have guessed to be possible for James. A career 33% three-point shooter, he shot a career high 40% last year, and now he is topping 48%. He's becoming unstoppable, again. He's ranked #11 in the NBA going 20-41 from three so far this season.

I'm in a real comfortable position with my game right now. -LeBron James after Monday's win over Phoenix

From the line, James is shooting a career best 80%. This isn't good enough to rank anywhere near the top, but it's better. All this has added up to James having a true shooting percentage (TS%) of 70%. True shooting percentage is an APBRmetrics statistic that measures a player's efficiency at shooting the ball. It is intended to more accurately calculate a player's shooting than FG%, FT%, and 3PTFG% taken individually. Two- and three-point field goals and free throws are all considered in its calculation. At 70%, James is good enough to have the fourth best TS% in the entire NBA.

On top of James just shooting the lights out, he is also distributing the ball. He is averaging 6.6 APG which is good for #11 in the NBA, and he is the only non Point Guard in the top 11. He's the #3 scorer in the NBA at 26 PPG behind Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony and he is doing it all in career low 35.1 minutes per game. James doesn't even rank in the top 30 for MPG (he has ranked top 8 for the past 4 years).

And all of the above has again put James as the leader in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) at 30.57. LeBron has led the NBA in PER for the previous 6 seasons. Anthony Davis is second at 28.62.

So...
LeBron is good. He's really good. And it may be subtle, but you should appreciate the chance to watch greatness each night as the guy plays in Miami. He is efficient and above all that, he is a team player. He goes all out to win. All this could lead to LeBron collecting his 5th NBA MVP, but it's still early. There's a lot of other people in the mix, but no one is shooting better or being more efficient than the King from South Beach.

James is setting himself up for his most productive season yet. His bulk averages may be down slightly, but within the time he is playing and the productivity at which he is shooting, he is being trusted with the ball from everyone far more than any time in his career.

I wouldn't expect LeBron to shoot like that all season. But I sure wouldn't bet against it.


Pts Reb Ast
2013 - LeBron James 26.0 5.7 6.6


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