The 2020-21 NBA season has been full of surprises. The Utah Jazz are sitting atop of the NBA with a record of 16-5 and look to be in total control whenever they face competition.
The lackluster start to the New Orleans Pelicans campaign has been disappointing for many reasons. And while Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram seem to be playing to expectations, there is something inherently missing within that organization.
Or… we could talk about how players like Blake Griffin and Pascal Siakam needed to be reported to emergency services for being missing.
No, I’m kidding. But really, when did these players become so forgettable? Particularly, Blake Griffin.
There was a point in time when sports media centered their attention around Lob City and the high-flying Blake Griffin. There was an anxiousness to see who he would dunk on next, but now, NBA casuals and even some NBA lifers don’t get excited by his name anymore.
Above all, the most intriguing story through the first 22 games of this season is the transformation of LeBron James’ game.
LeBron has been the undisputed best player of the last two decades.
His ability to overpower defenders, beat you off the dribble, and play with a distinct ferociousness is what has transcended his career into being a top-2 player of all-time.
It’s what has garnered his fan base to love and revere him the way they do. Sporting phrases like “LeGM,” “LeGreatness,” and “LeGOAT.”
Embracing His Jump Shot
Before the 2020-21 season, James was so dominant in every area of the game that his three-point shot was the one thing teams were willing to give up without contest.
Now, do not get me wrong. LeBron was never a bad shooter by any stretch of the imagination.
In fact, over the course of his career, he is 34.6% from three-point range. This places him right around the league average of 35%.
LeBron’s ability to hit the three was not on an intimidating level. You had to respect it, but it wasn’t something that made you nervous or that you held your breath over.
It didn’t have the same effect that players like Steph Curry, Dame, or Trae Young might have on the game. Defenses were willing to spare their own lives, oftentimes even baiting him to shoot threes versus driving to the lane.
That was smart because the alternative might involve you getting put on a poster.
Regardless, we started to see LeBron transform his game by taking more outside shots during the 2019 season. But it was nothing like what we’re seeing from him through the early part of this year.
Let’s start with the area in which James has seen the biggest improvement.
LeBron has improved his repertoire with his ability to hit the post-fadeaway on a knockdown basis.
It is straight lethal. It is outright scary how efficiently he is making his fadeaway jump shots. James is making 68% of his post-fadeaways.
To put into perspective how great this is, let’s look at Kyle Korver. Korver holds the record for the highest three-point percentage in a single season, where he shot 53.6% during the 2009-2010 season with the Atlanta Hawks.
So, for LeBron to push that threshold an additional 12% is ridiculous.
Take a look at the Christmas Day game where the Lakers played the Dallas Mavericks. He gets Luka Doncic on an island and makes it seem so easy.
This LeBron fadeaway is too smooth 👀 pic.twitter.com/scqtEQImC9
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 26, 2020
And in another game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he fades right over Collin Sexton and Jarrett Allen.
That shot shouldn’t be possible, @KingJames.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 26, 2021
This is beginning to look like the most unstoppable signature move in the NBA. It reminds me of a guy that played for the Lakers recently named Kobe Bryant (Rest In Peace, Mamba, Forever!)
In addition to his post-fadeaway, LeBron has started regularly shooting jumpers from the logo.
It is a day that we never saw coming, but here it is. And I’m not mad because his shots from the logo have been nothing short of dazzling.
The Lakers have had 13 nationally televised games up to this point in the season. That is more than any other team in the NBA.
However, when you have two players as marketable as LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it should be expected.
Regardless, when the lights are the brightest, the King delivers.
It doesn’t take an NBA historian or diehard fan to acknowledge that these shots he’s casually shooting from near half-court are crazy.
In a game last week where LeBron scored 46 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists against the Cavaliers, he shot from the logo and hit nothing but the bottom of the net.
The call, from which the title of this article was inspired, was made by Mike Breen: “LeBron from waaaaay downtown! Logo 3-pointer for LeBron James. Logo LeBron!”
Logo LeBron 🔭 pic.twitter.com/JMqcVX5yqx
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 26, 2021
The transformation of the 36-year-old’s game is remarkable. He continues to impress even though his legacy is already cemented amongst the all-time greats.
So all that talk about LeBron James not being able to shoot consistently can go.
And I mean expeditiously. Because this new era of LeBron is here to stay, and I’m all for it.
just a sports casual who happens to write about the NBA and college football. Primarily based in Atlanta, GA. UGA undergrad.