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LeBron’s shooting in February was the best by any player in the last 30 years

Mar 2, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat Getty Images

In case you needed an additional reminder of how awesome LeBron James is, here’s a little something to put what we’re seeing from him this season into historical context.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The final tally for LeBron’s ridiculously accurate shooting in the month of February was 139 makes in 217 attempts from the field for a success rate of 64.1 percent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the highest field goal percentage by a player in a calendar month featuring at least 200 shots since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shot 158-for-243 (.650) for the Lakers in March 1983.

To translate, James just finished the best individual shooting month by any NBA player in the last 30 years.

Even more amazing is the high percentage of shots James made from areas on the floor that aren’t typically recommended spots for players to be taking their shots from — namely, those classified as “long twos.”

Take a look at LeBron’s shot chart for the month of February:

source:

In the zones just inside the three-point line, beginning about 18 feet from the basket, James made 27 of his 45 attempts, good for a mark of 60 percent.

It’s an insanely high number, and even more maddening is the fact that those are the shots opposing coaches would love to see James take more regularly. Why? Because even the most rudimentary forms of advanced statistics will tell you that from a percentage and risk-reward standpoint, those are the worst shots in basketball.

Not for LeBron, though — at least not in February. On the season, James is shooting a much more reasonable 43.7 percent from the same areas — which is still pretty nuts, considering that’s Jamal Crawford‘s exact shooting percentage for the entire season, and it’s higher than Russell Westbrook‘s mark of 43.4 percent.

And again, he’s hitting that percentage on what are traditionally the game’s toughest shots.

We’re witnessing one of the all-time greats play the game in his prime, while giving us rare, historical feats to add to his legacy and list of accomplishments as his seasons go by. It’s worth being reminded of, and we’re all incredibly fortunate to be here to watch.

  1. 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    And he’s getting better

  2. eventhorizon04 - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Yeah, the real story is LeBron’s jump-shooting numbers in my opinion. The fact that he’s converting a high percentage of his opportunities at the rim isn’t surprising – he’s always been good at that.

    However, this season, he’s shooting 41.3% from 3 this year, up from 36.0% last year, 33.0% the year before, and 33.3% the year before that. That means he’s been working on his 3-point shot, and he’s getting significant results from that.

    As for “long-2’s” (from 18 feet to the 3-point line), he’s shooting nearly 44%. By comparison, last year Dirk Nowitzki (one of the best shooters in the game) shot 47% on long 2-point jumpers.

    What this means is that while LeBron is still athletic enough to work his way to the rim, he’s begun the demonstrating the improvement as a shooter necessary for him to continue to be an effective scorer as he ages.

    • thestudiokida - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      Chris Bosh is hitting 55% of 16-23 foot jump shots this season. That’s best in the NBA and by far the best of his career. Dude is money.

  3. bleedburgandyandgold - Mar 2, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    He is fun to watch play that’s for sure.

  4. buffalowned - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    cantonbound is trying to think of something to downplay …i’m sure that shot chart is making it hard on him

  5. buffalowned - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    cantonbound is trying to think of something to downplay this …i’m sure that shot chart is making it hard on him

    • buffalowned - Mar 2, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      (sorry for posting this twice. didn’t think it went through the first time)

      • badintent - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:01 AM

        @buffalowed
        Post it 3 times for cantonbound
        LBJ= GOAT
        HOW DOES A 7’3″ GUY MISS A DUNK ?? should shot ,900. LOL

  6. money2long - Mar 2, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    lebron thinks he’s soooo nice.
    he is.

  7. timb12 - Mar 2, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Isn’t he taking less shots? And I mean shots from 18+ feet. I think that has something to do with his high shooting percentage. What he’s doing is impressive still because he’s not settling for long 3’s or anything so he only takes the good looks which would cause his numbers to go up. He’s still dominant though, who wouldn’t want someone attacking the rim and not taking long twos?

  8. shzastl - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    Half his shots were layups/dunks, for which he shot 80%. The rest he shot slightly over 50%. So what’s amazing is that he was able to get so many high quality looks right at the rim.

    • borderline1988 - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      He gets a lot of those quality looks b/c teams have to guard that ever-improving jump shot.

      If you remember those Cavs-Celtics playoff series, the Celtics used to pack the paint on Lebron’s right side and dare him to go left and take contested jumpers.

      That strategy is a complete fail now b/c Lebron hits those midrange jumpers going to his left with ease, and vastly improved his ability to drive left. Couple that with some excellent corner 3pt shooters on the Heat, and suddenly you realize how dangerous Lebron is. He can go left or right to the basket, pull up for jumpers on either side, or find shooters on cross-court passes. There is no one in the NBA who is the triple-threat that Lebron is. Kobe and Durant are not even close, although Durant is certainly improving himself.

      Lebron also plays extremely well off the ball, constantly cutting to the rim and finding himself open for passes.
      And then there’s his post game.

      These are all tangible skills Lebron has worked on in the past 4 or 5 years. We all talk about work ethic..who knows which NBA player really works hard behind the scenes. But there’s no way Lebron simply picked up how to shoot 3s, pull-up jumpers, drive left, improve his ball-handling skills, and develop one of the game’s best post repetoires without working his butt off.

  9. fotydaze - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    SO!!!! He’s still soft

  10. nyjetsfan08 - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    Still not Jordan. Or Kareem. Or Russell. Or Magic. Or Wilt

  11. BigBeachBall - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    7 or so more years of this…. this decade belongs to Lebron as the 90’s were Jordan’s.

    • money2long - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      actually kobe’s dominated this decade, sorry.

      • sean222 - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        What decade? 2000-2010? That one is over. 2011- now is the new decade.

      • gswgoboom - Mar 3, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        Actually, this decade started in 2010. Kobe has definitely not dominated this decade. Lebron is the future. GOAT…HANDS DOWN

      • borderline1988 - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:24 PM

        One MVP = domination?

  12. thenmoveback - Mar 3, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    MVP

  13. mrfloydpink - Mar 3, 2013 at 3:42 AM

    Quick request: Do you think the writers of PBT could suck LeBron James off just a bit more? Thanks!

    • hehateme2 - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:39 AM

      jealous much loser?

  14. davidly - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Oh, Bray-it, don’ eggsajerate. It’s only the best shootin’ percennig in 29 years and 11 months.

    • guyaneserj - Mar 4, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      LOL

  15. otistaylor89 - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    It just goes to show you that…Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is f@#king great and why don’t big men practice and shoot the sky hook!!

    65% for a 36 year old, who didn’t have the fast break dunks LBJ does (but on a great team).

    Oh, and that Lebron guy may make it in this league – who knew?

  16. 6stn - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Probably had the fewest fouls called on a starting player in…forever.

  17. broadstbully - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    @money2long,

    Wrong decade. Kobe ran the ’00s. These are the ’10s.

    • cramsinned - Mar 3, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      00s was dominated by Shaq and Duncan

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