LeBron James' Epic Scoring Streak Proves He's NBA's Most Versatile Star
Most wouldn't hesitate in their decision to deem James the league's best player, yet not nearly enough is made of how versatile he is offensively.
LeBron's ability to defend every position on the floor, coupled with his innate sense of selflessness, is incredible. It really is.
More astounding than his God-given talents is what he has made of them. He's not just a perennial All-Star or MVP candidate, he's the embodiment of everything.
As Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today notes, the last person to accomplish such a feat was George Gervin during the 1981-82 campaign:
Miami Heat forward LeBron James may or may not win the MVP this season. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is right there, and James knows that.
But what James is doing game in, game out continues to astound. Regardless of who wins MVP for one season, James is still the best player in the world.
The record for most games of at least 20 points to start a season is 45 games, set by George Gervin in 1981-82, followed by James, who just passed Kevin McHale (28 consecutive games in 1986-87) and Karl Malone (24 consecutive games in 1989-90).
Essentially, this means that James is the first player to begin the season with 20 or more points in 30 consecutive games in over 30 years.
You should be.
We should also be impressed with the fact that James is not only attempting to break Gervin's streak, but that he's doing so as his team's primary facilitator.
Gervin was a shooting guard who didn't handle the game-to-game distributing abilities. And Kevin McHale and Karl Malone, now in James' rear-view mirror, played the forward and center spots. Their job was to score first, do anything else later.
But James is different. He has an unconditional green light, yes, but that means little in the scheme of a star-studded powerhouse like the Heat. Miami's supporting cast wouldn't seem as potent if LeBron was attempting the 25.2 shots Gervin hoisted up during his 1981-82 crusade.
James jacks up just 18.7 shots a night, fourth-most in the league behind Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Durant. Despite attempting more shots, though, have Kobe or 'Melo been able to do what James is doing right now?
No, not even close. No one is.
Sometimes, even the greatest player in the world is taken for granted. And here, now, with James is one of those times.
LeBron's 26.5 points per game are below his career average of 27.6, yet those points are coming amidst a season in which he is attempting the fewest number of shots, as is his career-best 54.4 percent field-goal percentage and 41.4 percent three-point conversion rate.
How is that not astonishing?
Better yet, how is it that he's managed to be fourth in scoring despite assisting on 34.6 percent of all Miami's field goals when he's on the floor?
Only eight other NBA players have a higher assist rate than James. All of them are point guards, only one of them averages more than 20 points per game (Russell Westbrook) and none of them match the 26.5 points LeBron puts up every night.
Of those eight, only two other players (Jose Calderon, Tony Parker) are hitting on more than 40 percent of his deep balls and one (Parker) hits on more than 50 percent of their field goals overall.
Yes, I get it, the other eight—which also include the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday, among others—are all point guards. Their job isn't to shoot; they're facilitators first. As a forward, James isn't.
Except that he is.
It's not just his obscene assist percentage, but the way he brings the ball up the floor in general. Dwyane Wade is free to take it when he pleases, but it's James who must jump-start the offense; it's him who has had to find that equivocal balance between three other stars.
It's been his job to make the Heat a cohesive unit first, and score second.
Yet he continues to score. A lot. And he does so efficiently and from anywhere on the floor, and has thus taken versatility to a whole new level.
Who is the most versatile player in the NBA?
James isn't just scoring in a variety of ways, he's scoring in a medley of ways while assuming a multitude of responsibilities.
And that's not just versatility—it's something else.
It's him serving as a symbol for near perfection.
It's him disproving much of what we have come to understand and subsequently conclude about the contrast between being a scorer and distributor.
It's him spitting in the face of conventional wisdom.
It's LeBron James being LeBron James.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of Jan. 2, 2013.
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