From Downtown: LeBron James

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

With LeBron James at the helm, the Miami Heat have redefined what it means to be efficient, leading the entire NBA in Effective Field Goal percentage for a second straight season.

As eFG% accounts for the extra point given to shots behind the arc, it speaks to the kinds of shots Miami seeks. However, while Miami was second in the league in 3-point percentage last season (.398), they are only 10th this year (.372). While we still have about a month left in the season, I wanted to take a closer look at the individual players and see whether any drops or rises are significant enough to examine closer.

Today we will look at LeBron James:


LeBron James Shot Chart: 2012-2013 vs. 2013-2014

LeBron has shot slightly worse from beyond the arc this season, at a still above average 38% compared to 40% last season. His attempts are up to nearly 4 a game compared to 3.3 last season, still a far cry from his Cleveland Cavaliers days where he would hoist over 5 threes a game with middling percentages to show for it. He's struggled a bit more from the wings and midrange, but has made up for that by being even better at the rim than last season, which seems mathematically impossible. LeBron is hitting 79% of his shots at the rim this year. For comparison's sake, DeAndre Jordan makes 67% of his shots at the rim with 82% of his total shots coming from there.

Digging deeper thanks to SportVU player tracking, we can extrapolate even more data. This season, LeBron is attempting 1.6 "catch and shoot" threes a game and hitting 0.8 of them, a sterling 50% mark. This leads the Heat and would put LeBron in an elite class of shooters, slightly behind Kyle Korver (51.4%), and ahead of Kevin Durant (37.5%) and Carmelo Anthony (45.6%). Keep in mind, however, that these players get more catch and shoot opportunities than LeBron does.

So if about 40% of LeBron's attempts are of the catch and shoot variety, how does he fare with pull-up threes? Not nearly as well. SportVU has LeBron attempting nearly 2 threes a game off the dribble, yet he only makes 0.6 of them, leaving him at around 31%. No other Heat player takes more than 0.5 pull up threes. Again, for comparison's sake, Stephen Curry leads the league by a wide margin on pull up attempts from beyond the arc (5.2 a game), but he nails a sweet 37.5% of those attempts. Other players in LeBron's range include Goran Dragic (1.9 attempts, 41.1%), Paul George (2 attempts, 24.8%) and Durant (2.5 attempts, 43.2%).

So what all the data tells us is that LeBron is a better set shooter than an off the dribble shooter. This speaks to his mechanics as when he has to heave a three off the dribble, his body sometimes fails to go square and ends up off balance, which is important for all shooters to keep in mind. Still, a player like Kevin Durant is actually better off the dribble than spotting up, so each player has their own individual quirks.

Next time, we'll take a look at Ray Allen, who's on the rise after a slow start to the year.

This is a fan-created post on The opinions here are not necessarily those shared by the editorial staff at Hot Hot Hoops.

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