Since joining the NBA in October 2003, LeBron James has evolved from being one of the least effective players in the league to becoming a hyperefficient offensive mastermind with an incredible mix of interior scoring ability and perimeter defense. Shot production dominates.  On Thursday he launches the next chapter of his career, and while there is little doubt that James will continue to thrive in Los Angeles, there are legitimate reasons to question whether the redesigned Lakers have enough firepower to fire James. # 39; advantage to use. unique ability to create great looks for his teammates.
Let's go on his journey to offensive size and what it means for this new test in LA. We will start from scratch.
How LeBron Got the Color
9659005] Just two days after Lonzo Ball turned 6, James made his NBA debut in Sacramento. It was not long before he started. After being out of play in the first three minutes after a shot by Carlos Boozer, James dribbled into his first NBA shot attempt. It was a harbinger for the child of Akron; the jumper found the reason of the net:
Since that first bucket, James has tried an additional 22,382 regular seasons field goals and made 11,279 of them. He will start the season on Thursday night as the seventh top scorer in NBA history. If he stays healthy, it is reasonable to expect him to move up to fourth place by the end of the regular season ahead of Dirk Nowitzki, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
But James fought powerfully as scorer in his rookie campaign. Of the 46 players who attempted at least 1,000 field goals this season, James took the 41st place in the effective field goal odds. His rookie shot chart shows a young player who was a mediocre jump shooter and was just average in color. He had not yet figured out how to use his size and speed to get rid of light bucket on the edge or to make trips, and to say that his jumper was inefficient is a great understatement.
He was not a king yet. Consider this trio of plebeian statistics:
Out of 74 NBA players who scored at least 200 3-point goals this season, James took 72th place by completing only 29 percent of his attempts. Only Jason Richardson and Antoine Walker were less efficient from downtown.
Of 126 NBA players who attempted at least 200 midrange shots, James ranked 119th.
Of 114 NBA players who attempted at least 200 shots in the restricted area, James ranked 72.
To date His rookie year statistics include career lows in field goal percentage, true shooting range, free-fouling rate, PER and assist percentage. But in his second season James improved in almost every statistical key category.
He showed lightning from the inner monster, which he would soon become stronger, getting stronger at the edge, pulling more fouls and forcing fewer shots. His 3-point share went from horrible to average, though he remained a relatively modest edge threat despite some promising numbers in the bends:
James' ability to land at the basket would quickly become his calling card. In his first playoff series against the Wizards in 2006, James transformed two huge late-game buckets to lead his team to victory. He won Game 3 with a dribbling ride, punctuated by a brutal ball forgery that knocked Antonio Daniels out of the game, followed by an impossible hanging layup over Michael Ruffin. He won Game 5 with a lightning fast baseline ride that required equal parts of speed, power and touch as his layup winner cleared it with 0.9 seconds in overtime.
The key to his potential as a young scorer was simple: find ways to play to his strength, which ended at the bucket. The story of James, who has transformed himself from an inefficient rookie to an NBA champion, is one of those players who learn how to attack defenses with his wild blend of speed and strength to create scoring opportunities in color. That's still the key to his scoring portfolio.
During the 2007-08 season, James was the only player to attempt 600 or more shots in the restricted area. On the way to top scorer, he led the NBA by converting 794 field goals, but an incredible 440 of them (55.4 percent) came within the restricted range. James became the best in the world as he scored goals in the small area where NBA defense protects the most. Who needs a great jumpshot when you can achieve so much in color?
By 2008, James had recognized his potential as a single player. He was really the most versatile star in basketball. In the 2008-09 season he led his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. That's incredible. But it also suggests that he was not exactly surrounded by a great supporting role. When James reached his heyday, he emigrated from Cleveland to Miami. He surrounded himself with a much better basketball environment, and what came next was probably the highlight of LeBron James. Along with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, James was able to make the difficult shots he could achieve next to an uneven side cast.
In his last two seasons in Miami, he took the fewest attempts per game of his career. He was obsessed with efficiency, especially in 2012/13, the second championship year. Look at all the curated red. In essence, it's a masterpiece:
James was freed from being the whole focus of the offense. He has learned to play the ball. He learned to be more selective and intentional with his shot selection. It was a luxury that goes hand in hand with a great team. Sometimes efficiency has as much to do with a player's environment as their individual abilities.
As his numbers rose to new heights, those studying James learned the confluence of lesser usage, higher efficiency, and hyper-intelligent shot selection. Take a look at what ESPN's Brian Windhorst wrote in May 2013 after James won his fourth MVP award:
"Less bad punches, more good punches, more attempts at places he learned was good against Defensive strategies, fewer attempts at strategies that should lead him to make bad decisions … It was often dismissed as a heat stroke or the result of a group of dunks, it was so much deeper than that. It was James who gave his understanding of The NBA spent a decade connecting it with its talent. "
We looked after you before, during, and after the opener for the Portland Lakers.
Is Giannis ready to be MVP? Will the Lakers make the playoffs? What is the Jimmy Butler Fallout? There are many questions to answer this season.
LeBron Tip manifested when his brain, his body and his gambling situation were all aligned in Miami. After years in which he was a poor or average 3-point shooter, James finally brought strong numbers from the depths. This improvement says so much about how clean his attempts were and how good it is to shoot 3s. In 2012/13 55 percent of his triples were supported. Only 36 percent in Cleveland last year.
And even though he will never come out of the depths of Stephen Curry, that may not be so important. James's interior values remain as breathtaking as Curry's perimeter.
Remember, in the 10-season span of 2008-09 to 2017-18, James was the NBA's top scorer in the restricted area, an incredible six times last season, scoring an amazing 534 field goals in this critical zone. Not only was this the largest number of LeBron's careers, but also a player who had earned so many buckets since MVP level Shaq 1999/00 571. Everyone knew then that Shaq was the most dominant inside scorer on the planet. But in the last 10 years, this title has belonged to James:
That does not mean that James can not generate much perimeter offensive. In fact, it's one of his best skills.
Another Type of 3-Point Specialist
One way James has overcome his relative mediocrity as a skipper is his ability as a creator. He is probably the best 3-point assistant in the NBA.
Last season, James Harden led the NBA through 265 3-pointers to sink. That's a big number – it helped Harden win his first MVP – but James led the NBA by supporting 344 3-pointers. Over the last five seasons, Curry has become a new kind of prodigy and has made incredible 1,485 3-point scores since the 2013/14 season. But at the same time James the Creator helped with 1,318 triples made.
Everyone knows that James is a terrific passer. Few players attract as much attention as he does. As defenders have tried to slow down his dribbling rides with the help of helpers, James has learned to punish these strategies by shooting perfectly counted passes to the shooters who left these defenders open.
Defending James over the past decade is a poison: Either you have him blown into individual reports and pay countless pails on the edge, or you ask for his interior attacks with help defense and allow him to create clean looks for his teammates. Both the Cavs and the Heat were good at surrounding James with targeted threats that made the defense pay for leaving the boys at the edges. They do not leave Kyle Korver or Ray Allen in the corner. That opened James James's # 39; corridors.
When James embarks on his sixteenth anniversary in the NBA, it's fair to ask if he can extend his legacy as the league's best inside scorer with this new teammate or the league's best 3-point assistant.
Last season in Cleveland, far more than half of his 3-point assists were split among three very good shooters: five-time all-star Kevin Love, the extremely talented JR Smith and the phenomenally accurate Korver. They are stuck in Cleveland, and it is unclear whether this roster, assembled in L.A., has enough perimeter firepower to exploit James' unique creative abilities. In return, the defenders could spend more resources to slow down the driver James.
Here's an important question when we go into the 2018-1919 season: What happens when that kind of passport falls into his hands? new teammates?
A dose of pessimism is justified. It is not encouraging that during the preseason, the most active 3-point shooters of the Lakers – Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Svi Mykhailiuk – made only 28 percent of their 81 3-point attempts while the team as a whole only 32.6 percent made. However, preseason rehearsals are both small and sketchy, chemistry takes time and if we've learned anything about James since 2003-04, it's the rising tide that lifts all the boats.
The question is not whether the Lakers will be better. You will obviously do it. The question is, how much better will they get. Last season they had the 23rd most efficient offensive play in the NBA, in part because they were one of the worst long-range outfits. That must change, and perhaps there is no better way to improve that number than to hand over the keys of the attack to the King of Clean Eyes.
Ultimately, the degree of improvement largely depends on the abilities of an unproven sniper to make far-reaching shots. If KCP, Kuzma and Hart can empty their 3s, this crazy experiment could actually work. If that's not possible, Rob Pelinka, Magic and GM LeBron need to figure out how to provide James with perimeter threats that can.