Normally i’m not one to pay that much attention to random Miami Heat games (2006 Finals can never leave my mind) but as of late, LeBron James has been playing absolutely out of his mind so it’s essentially must watch basketball. Even for his abilities. From the start of the season anyone that was watching LeBron on any given night could sense that his game was continuing to evolve. LeBron’s game right now is about as complete as any player in the history in the NBA. Yes, we’ve heard it over and over in the past 12 hours or so: LeBron is now the only player in the history of the league to score at least 30 ppg and shoot at least 60% in five straight games. At first it seems like a strange streak to complete but keep this is mind, no one has ever done that before. Even at their most dominant stages, NBA legends that only require one name (Wilt, Jordan, Magic, Bird, Shaq etc.) were not able to reach this feat. Are these comparisons a bit premature?
LeBron seems to think so. James was certainly surprised and said “I’m at a loss for words.” but even as the comparisons to the NBA legends poured in, LeBron seemed to stay put. Earlier this morning he sent out a tweet “@KingJames: I’m not MJ, I’m LJ” so take what you will from that. I certainly don’t think he’s MJ either, not even close at this point but right now LeBron is playing at a high enough level that he can be compared to the greatest basketball player of all time. Think about it, LeBron has made 60 of his last 80 shots. I’m trying to remember the last time I saw a player be this dominant with the eye test and the performance translated in the box score. Shaq in that 2001 MVP season comes to mind but that’s just off the top of my head. Now the questions that remain are how long LeBron will continue to play at this pace and just how much will his ceiling rise going forward.
It’s tough to say at this point because it’s the regular season and in the end, LeBron will be judged by what he does in the postseason. Rightfully so because that’s always going to be where the great ones are judged. If I had to put a number on it i’d say that LeBron is playing somewhere around 85% of his full capabilities. He certainly keeps an extra gear for the playoffs (last season’s game 6 in Boston) but this is just the regular season version of LeBron. Game by game he just seems like more of a team player, dishing out passes and opting to go to the rim more often than taking reckless shots from 18ft and longer. LeBron is at unique position in his basketball career, still having the physical abilities to simply power past opponents but what’s changed is between his ears. He’s starting to become smarter about his game and it’s a scary thought for the rest of the league. Stay tuned everyone, the sky is starting to become the limit for LeBron James.