The basketball robot commonly known as LeBron James has had his game picked and prodded at by millions, searching for his weakness trying to prove that he is in fact, human. Many have gone so far as to invent ways that his game is flawed or could be further improved. Now, we’ll look at the myths surrounding ‘King’ James and his status as a Homo sapien.
“Imagine if he had a post game” was a quote thrown out by many observers who failed to recognize that LeBron is quite the efficient post player who was in the top 25 of PPP (points per play) via Synergy Sports in these situations in his last year in Cleveland and his first two in Miami. James accomplishes this by bullying smaller defenders and using his quickness against larger defenders instead of relying on a myriad of fakes and fade-aways that are often associated with good post play.
“He’s not clutch” was the other large misnomer about James as onlookers saw him pass on the opportunity to play hero ball for high percentage shots from his teammates. But, people didn’t account for his play to get them to that point. According to data tracked by 82games.com LeBron James is a difference maker in the clutch. As you can see, the net difference between his team’s offense and the opposing team’s is huge with LeBron on the floor and his ability to put the ball in the basket gets even more efficient late in the shot clock.
The one “flaw” in James’ game that carried some weight was that he didn’t have a consistent outside shot, though he still shot a solid 33.1% for his career prior to this year. Yet, it now appears that LeCyborg has improved his game even more. Last season LeBron took a career low 2.4 threes per game and shot what was then a career high 36.2% from deep. It seemed that James had finally ceded his obsession with the long range bombs and his pickiness had meant that he was taking more efficient and better shots. But, this year his number of three point attempts is up to 3.3 per game and he’s shooting an astounding 43.4% from deep.
How is LeBron doing this? He’s improved his catch-and-shoot game. According to Synergy Sports, he’s the 2nd most efficient spot up shooter in the league putting up 1.6 PPP, shooting 60.5% from the floor and 55.9% in those situations. This is considerably up from the 0.91 PPP and 36.4% from the floor and 32.5% from deep he put up in spot up situations during the 2011-12 season.
So in conclusion, LeBron is either an alien or a robot, it’s the only logical response, even if he regresses towards the mean as his sample size increases.
Special thanks to Basketball-Reference, 82games and to Synergy Sports for the statistics and to rubyblosom for the heading image via Flickr.