LeBron on Record-Setting Pace

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The below list is the best player season stats since the start of the 3-Point Era as ranked by Win Share per 48 Minutes. Please review and rendezvous with me in the text below…

Advanced Shooting
Player Season PER TS% STL% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg WS/48 FG% 3P% FT%
LeBron James 2011-12 33.0 .616 2.5 14.3 33.7 118 97 .323 .547 .400 .749
Michael Jordan* 1990-91 31.6 .605 3.7 8.7 32.9 125 102 .321 .539 .312 .851
LeBron James 2008-09 31.7 .591 2.4 11.0 33.8 122 99 .318 .489 .344 .780
Michael Jordan* 1995-96 29.4 .582 3.1 8.4 33.3 124 100 .317 .495 .427 .834
Michael Jordan* 1987-88 31.7 .603 3.9 9.6 34.1 123 101 .308 .535 .132 .841
LeBron James 2009-10 31.1 .604 2.2 12.3 33.5 121 102 .299 .503 .333 .767
David Robinson* 1993-94 30.7 .577 2.3 10.9 32.0 119 98 .296 .507 .345 .749
Michael Jordan* 1988-89 31.1 .614 3.6 11.9 32.1 123 103 .292 .538 .276 .850
Chris Paul 2008-09 30.0 .599 3.9 13.5 27.5 124 103 .292 .503 .364 .868
David Robinson* 1995-96 29.4 .589 1.9 9.8 28.8 120 96 .290 .516 .333 .761
Michael Jordan* 1989-90 31.2 .606 3.5 9.8 33.7 123 106 .285 .526 .376 .848
Chris Paul 2007-08 28.3 .576 3.9 12.1 25.7 125 103 .284 .488 .369 .851
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/30/2012.

How’d you do? Did you notice how ridiculous LeBron’s 2012 season is shaping up to be? Through the first 20 games (1/3rd) of this shortened season, LeBron James is setting a new pace. He’s shooting 55% from the floor including 40% from the three-point line, and he’s doing it on an incredible 33.8% usage rate. He’s getting to the foul line at a high-rate as demonstrated by his True Shooting percentage which is a whopping .616. For the uninitiated, TS% isn’t really a shooting percentage at all, it is a metric that factors 2 point field goals, 3 point field goals, and free throws and determines an approximate points per shot figure. If you double the TS% that should be an estimate of how many points LeBron generates each time he shoots. 1.32. That is remarkable.

And when you watch the Heat, it’s easy to see how he’s dominating the offensive end to such a high degree. The answer is of course team defense. Miami is #1 in the league in opponent turnovers by a wide margin, and nobody takes advantage of turning over the opposition as well as LeBron James, maybe nobody ever. His end to end speed, superior ball-handing abilities, and preternatural capacity to finish a fastbreak through contact makes him the perfect weapon out in the open court so kind of crazy combination of Isiah Thomas, Dr. J, and Karl Malone. The Heat are causing 18.3 turnovers per game. When you concede LeBron 9 or more opportunities to get behind your team defense with his speed, of course he’s going to shoot 55%. Add to the fastbreak potency a dedicated effort to attack the paint by powering through smaller defenders (all his defenders are smaller) in the post and more selective three-point shooting, and you get the start to the best offensive season in modern memory.

Really the only thing holding him back from being even more dominating is the turnovers. His turnover percentage is very high for a forward. Chris Paul playing point guard at its highest level has a lower turnover percentage than LeBron. Of course just as the playstyle of getting out on the break as often as possible creates easy opportunities for LeBron, it also sets him up for more miscues handling the ball. So far the balance between good and bad transition opportunities has definitely fallen in LeBron’s favor.

The lesson? Keep pressing and scrambling on defense and keep pushing the tempo, Chosen King. It ain’t broke, and it ain’t likely to break until the playoffs, if then.

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