The one aspect of LeBron James’ game that abandoned him over the past couple seasons is back — and if this trend holds, the rest of the NBA is almost certainly doomed.
This season, LeBron is making more 3-pointers per game (1.9) than he has in any season in his entire career. At 37.7 percent, he’s on pace for his highest single-season 3-point percentage as a Cavalier. In fact, LeBron’s 2016-17 3-point percentage tops his first championship season in Miami (36.2 percent) and slightly trails his last season with the Heat (37.9 percent).
That might not seem like a huge deal at first glance, but remember: LeBron was atrocious from deep last season. He made just 30.9 percent of his 3s in 2015-16, the worst non-rookie season of his career. Yes, the Cavs won the title anyway, but only by the slimmest of margins. Imagine how unstoppable Cleveland can be if LeBron’s knocking down 3s, too.
Of course, you don’t have to imagine it; we’re seeing that very scenario play out on a nightly basis for the Cavs this season. Anyone worried that LeBron might sacrifice play-making and drives to the rim to shoot more 3s isn’t paying attention. He’s picking his spots like the basketball genius he is.
Meanwhile, a more well-rounded LeBron gives Kyrie Irving even more room to operate as the primary ball-handler in Cleveland. When everyone around Irving (except for Tristan Thompson) is a knockdown shooter, then there’s very little one can do to defend the Cavs successfully.
The threat of a LeBron 3 spaces the floor unlike any other player. Try to play up on him, and he’ll blow right past you. Sag off of him, and he’ll look over the top of the defense for a perfect pass to a wide-open teammate.
And these days, should you dare him to shoot, LeBron is more than happy to oblige.
It’s a side of his game we haven’t seen in Cleveland, which should terrify the rest of the league — especially since he made a concerted effort to improve his 3-point shooting this offseason. As we saw with his post game in Miami, the results speak for themselves when LeBron dedicates himself to improving a certain facet of his game.
Now, it’s the same song, different verse this time around in Cleveland. If LeBron is going to play the most complete basketball of his career at age 32, the rest of the NBA is officially on notice. The Cavs are the title favorites until the King decides otherwise.