Make no mistake, LeBron does have a physical advantage, but the players he has to go up against are much closer in ability than anyone Wilt or the Big O had to deal with. So that leaves us with one last comparison: Michael Jordan. Twitter has been abuzz with this comparison, and everyone flocks to a 10 game stretch Michael had in 1989 where he averaged 33 PTS, 11 REB, and 10 AST while shooting 69% from the field. Obviously, Michael’s numbers are better, and without question Michael did not have the same overwhelming physical advantage that Robertson or Chamberlain had.
To understand how LeBron has been scoring at such a breakneck pace, let’s look at where his shots are coming from:
What LeBron has done is to basically eliminate the low efficiency mid range from his game. The vast majority of his shots are coming at the rim, where he naturally scores at a high percentage because he is so powerful and has such good touch. In fact, he’s taken almost as many shots in the restricted area as he has anywhere else combined. With this in mind, it should come as little surprise that he’s been shooting so well.
The next thing to examine is the play type he’s been executing to get those shots. The distribution breaks down as follows:
[table id=15 /]
It’s important to note that LeBron has drastically reduced his isolations and increased his post ups. There is without question a direct correlation to this fact and the fact that he is on this incredible tear. By eliminating less effective isolations, as well as inefficient long 2’s, and getting shots much closer to the basket, he is becoming the most unstoppable force on the floor. This has created openings for his teammates as well, as both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are shooting career highs from the field (54% and 51% respectively).
Before we finish crowning King James as the best of all time, it has to be noted that of the five teams the Heat have played, four of them are downright awful on defense. Toronto (25th), Charlotte (30th). Houston (22nd), and the Lakers (16th) are all below average in defensive rating, and continually left LeBron open for easy shots. They also wilted easily under the defensive pressure of the Heat (LeBron included) to enable him to get so many fastbreak possessions.
Independent of these last five games, LeBron is still having a season for the ages. If he is able to continue posting up more than he isolates, the league will continue to be dominated by the team from South Beach. The only hope teams have is to force James and Wade to shoot more than half their shots from outside the paint, but if LeBron gets enough post touches, this would be impossible. The way he’s shooting, it might not matter where he shoots the ball from.