CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – It is year 15 of LeBron James’s NBA career, and he is still doing things that no one has ever done before.
On December 12th, 2017, LeBron James played a game that no player in NBA history has ever replicated: 7 rebounds, a career-high tying 17 assists, and 25 points on 84.6% shooting.
LeBron’s performance was the 139th since the 1983-84 season where a player scored 25 with 17 dimes, but just the 12th where said player took 13-or-fewer field goal attempts. John Stockton is the only to do so while converting on 70+ percent of his shots, doing it three times, but never grabbed more than five boards.
The soon to be 33-year-old began to place an emphasis on his efficiency when he moved to Miami in 2010, and it has shown through further in 2017. James currently boasts career-highs in 2P%, 3P% and TS% despite one of the lower usage percentages in his career.
“I mean, that’s just who I am,” James said. “I’m an efficient player. Never liked being a volume shooter. That’s just not my game. I’ve always been efficient, and obviously you’ve got to put in the work and put in the work, and I’ve put in the work.
“The other night I was 8-for-23, whatever the case may be, but I don’t like being 8-for-23. It drives me crazy.”
James noted that opposing teams are still going under screens in the pick-and-roll, allowing him to get open looks from deep, despite his shooting renaissance. Naturally, the higher conversion rate from 3-point range has made him virtually un-guardable given his consistent 60+ percent shooting from inside the arc.
“He could always shoot the basketball, but he’s shooting it with confidence,” Head Coach Tyronn Lue said. “Adding that to his repertoire as far as offensively is big for him, and that opens up his driving. Then teams are going under screens and he’s making shots, now they’ve got to go over, and now he’s going to pick you apart.”
Sure, James has been plenty efficient shooting the ball, but his 25 points were not what won the game for the Cavaliers on Tuesday. Those 17 assists, the second instance of that mark this season for LeBron, came early and often.
More than often, they came on one of the 20 3-pointers by the Cavaliers against the Hawks, a season-high. Eight of his 17, to be exact.
That was probably by design.
The Cavaliers had set their season-high in triples previously in the season against the Hawks, 18 on November 30th. They also set the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game, and a playoff game, with 25 against Atlanta on May 4th, 2016.
Lue said the 3-point attempts were not by design, but LeBron’s dishing was, which led to the barrage.
“They do a lot of double-teaming, tilting with the big, and that lets Bron pick the guys apart,” Lue said. He’s able to make passes over the double-team or guys cutting for layups, and when we’re playing with pace and getting out in transition, it’s tough for guys to get back and get matched.”