LeBron James is making everything look easy right now. The reigning NBA most valuable player is on a torrid pace , making 49 of his last 65 shots and his shooting percentage has only dipped below 50% twice in the past two months. That’s a remarkable 80% clip! When it comes to ESPN’s player rankings, courtesy of the great John Hollinger, only Kevin Durant (29.0) comes within an earshot of James (30.9). Chris Paul (26), Brook Lopez (25) and Tim Duncan (25) round out the top five.
During Sunday’s showcase game between the Heat and the Lakers, James scored 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting in a record-setting show, as the Heat rolled to a 107-97 victory for their fifth straight win. It was James’ fifth straight game with at least 30 points, a franchise record. He also joined Adrian Dantley (1979) and Moses Malone (1982) as the only NBA players to score at least 30 and shoot at least 60 percent in five straight outings, the team said.
”Don’t take it for granted,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Associated Press. ”He’s making greatness look easy.”
James’ game might be better than ever right now, if that’s even possible.
For the season, he’s shooting a career-best 56 percent so far, easily on pace for the sixth straight season of improvement in that department. His 3-point shooting, at 42 percent this season, is much improved. His scoring average is just a shade under what it was a year ago when he won MVP (27.0), but his rebounds (8.1) and assists (6.9) are up.
“I want to continue to push the button, continue to get better, maximize my potential and not waste an opportunity,” James told AP.
Since the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against Indiana, James has been nothing short of spectacular. When Chris Bosh went down, James decided he needed to become more of an inside threat and punish teams inside instead of settling for 3-pointers. He started driving the ball to the basket with more ferocity and added a low-post game. Wade also retooled his game, taking less threes and and relying more on his midrange game.
The formula resulted in a championship for the Heat, and James finally shed the weight of the world off his broad shoulders.
If James continues this incredible pace, he’ll run away with his fourth MVP trophy — matching Wilt Chamberlain and one short of Michael Jordan and Bill Russell. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record with six MVPs.
“I mean, come on. We try to come up with new superlatives every single game,” Spoelstra said. “He’s the best player in the game and he’s continuing to reinvent himself. This guy isn’t trying to shy away from work ethic or preparation. He’s getting after it. Our film sessions, he treats them like he’s a coach. He sees something, he’ll point it out to the guys. He’s continuing to improve. And quite frankly, we need it.”
James said he’s done nothing out of the ordinary to raise his shooting numbers. Hard work, he said, has been the difference. He hits the practice court to take game-situation jumpers when his legs are fresh. He does it again when his legs are tired.
“When I’m able to go out there on the floor, I just try to make things happen,” James said. “But I want to continue to get better. I’m not satisfied and I work on my game each and every day, trying to figure out ways I can get better, both offensively and defensively, from the interior to the exterior, whatever the case may be.”