The NBA Playoffs begin in less than one week, and there are just a handful of regular season games remaining. In the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers – despite their recent struggles – earned the No. 1 seed on Monday night. But it will be the No. 2 seed, the Miami Heat in which the title still goes through. They are the two-time defending champions and to achieve basketball glory, the Heat must be beat. Four-time MVP LeBron James will reportedly be sidelined until the playoffs, citing rest as the reason. With his personal regular season now over, let’s take a look at the 77 games he played in during the 2013-2014 campaign, and where it stacks compared to previous seasons.
While it seems like Kevin Durant will pry away this year’s Most Valuable Player Award from James, this season was nothing to be ashamed of. For the tenth consecutive season, he will finish top-5 in the league in points per game with 27.1. For the ninth time in the last ten years, he will most likely end up ranked as a top-5 rebounder at the small forward position, grabbing down 6.9 per game. James is also a top-notch facilitator and at 6-8, has the special ability to see teammates in places that smaller players wouldn’t be able to. He’s always envisioned himself as more of a playmaker than scorer, and this shines through in his game. Since his rookie year, James has led all small forwards in assists and this season is no different. At 6.4 per contest, he will most likely – once again – be No. 1.
Despite his impressive numbers and ranks in the game, James has regressed from last season in statistical categories such as free throw percentage, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game and defensive rating. Yet, it has been speculated and appears to be true that James “coasted” through much of the season. After competing in the last three Finals and the 2012 Olympics, he has certainly played more minutes than most players in recent years and needs both the physical and mental rest when available. Playoff time is truly when it counts for the Heat and when LBJ needs to be at his best.
His effectiveness, however, is an area where James has consistently improved. Sure, he’s a 20+ point-scorer but so is, say, Paul George. So what’s the difference? George is shooting 42.4 percent from the field. LeBron? Just a bit better.
For the eighth consecutive season, James has improved on his field-goal percentage from the previous year. He is shooting 56.7 percent from the field this season, which ranks No. 4 in the league. There are only two other non-power forwards or centers in the top-25 in field-goal percentage, and none as high as James.
LeBron’s shooting chart:
In NBA History, there have been just two seasons that has a player has shot at least 55 percent and connected on 100 three-pointers: LeBron James last year – and LeBron James this year. His scoring explosions throughout the season surely played a part in this regard.
On February 18 against the Dallas Mavericks, James dropped 42 points while adding nine rebounds and seven assists in his team’s victory. Just two weeks later, he took his game to another level and tallied 61 points while making 22-of-33 field-goals against the Charlotte Bobcats, producing seven rebounds and five assists as well.
The 29-year-old clearly does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. James is currently in the prime of his career, and it is only a matter of time before he is proudly boasting (not one, not two…) Larry O’Brien Championship Trophies.