Christmas came early this year for NBA fans.
With the great news of the NBA lockout coming to an end yesterday, what better way to celebrate than to get the wheels of the prediction train moving?
LeBron James had an underwhelming year in 2010-2011. It was underwhelming because of the hype and lofty expectations he put on himself when he made the decision to take his talents to south beach. LeBron fell short of proving that he truly is the King, only setting career high averages in two categories, defensive rebounds (6.5 per game) and turnovers (3.6 per game).
LeBron's legacy hinges on the success of this season. His legacy hinges on whether or not he has what it takes to carry his team to the promised land of winning an NBA championship. While most people believe LeBron doesn't have what it takes, I do.
LeBron will prove to the world that he truly is the King in the shortened 2011-2012 NBA season and here are the stats he is going to have that will prove it.
Here is a statistical category that I'm pretty sure LeBron created himself, the mighty chase down block.
LeBron's chase down blocks are sometimes more exciting than his highlight reel dunks. In the 2008-2009 season LeBron totaled 23 chase down blocks, which is 23 more than most players in the NBA will ever have in their entire career.
LeBron will undoubtedly amp up his defense, earning him 2011-2012 all-first team defense honor in addition to accumulating an amazing 32 chase down blocks. LeBron will average almost a chase down block every two games.
Opponents will be driving to the rim on fast breaks hoping not to become the next victim of LeBron's infamous chase down block.
LeBron James' career high for 40 point games in one season is 10, which took place in the 2005-2006. LeBron will come close to that career high, but he will ultimately fall a little short.
When looking at the Miami Heat's 2011-2012 schedule there are a few games that I can see LeBron dropping 40 or more. Early games against Washington, Sacramento, Sacramento again and Milwaukee are games which provide LeBron with a defensive mismatch that could lead him to dropping 40 or more.
Here are the seven games in which I think LeBron will score 40 or more points: Washington Wizards (12/27), Sacramento Kings (1/06), Milwaukee Bucks (1/21), @ Cleveland Cavaliers (2/17), @ LA Lakers (3/04), @ Philadelphia 76ers (3/16), @ Boston Celtics (4/01).
LeBron only gets seven 40 point games because of the shortened NBA season.
On average, LeBron's field goal percentage has increased 2.6% per year throughout his career (minus the 06-07 season), all the way from 41.7% in 03-04 to 51.0% in 10-11.
I see LeBron's shooting percentage reaching an average of 56.2% in 2011-2012, doubling his average career jump of 2.6% per year.
In a career defining year, LeBron will not only take smarter shots, but he will also play more inside the 3-point line which will result in higher percentage shots. King James sets a career mark for field goal percentage with a 56.2 % field goal percentage.
The shortened 2011-2012 NBA season will end with LeBron setting a career high in triple doubles in a season with 11.
LeBron's previous record for triple doubles in a year was 7, in both the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons. That record will be blown out of the water in 2011-2012. LeBron will do so not by scoring obscene amounts of points, but rather by doing what his team needs which is to play consistently in every facet of his game.
LeBron will get his triple doubles in games again top-tier competition such as the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers. The majority of LeBron's triple doubles will look like this, 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
LeBron's triple doubles against the best teams in the NBA will put his new found ability to show up in big games on display.
If Miami wants to win, and LeBron wants to get his first NBA championship then he must get to the foul line more often than he did last year.
In-spite of missing 16 games due to the NBA lockout, LeBron James will get to the foul line more this year than he did last. Last year LeBron shot 663 foul shots with a 75.9 % free throw percentage. In 2011-2011 LeBron will get to the foul line at least 745 times and will shoot no lower than 80.0%.
LeBron getting to the foul line more will mean that he is playing more physical and is driving more to the basket than he is stepping out shooting jumpers. If LeBron is able to play that way the Miami Heat will win, I guarantee it.
The Heat need LeBron to show the strength and power of his game more this year than they need him to show his fines, and that will results in an increase in trips to the foul line.
One of the similarities between LeBron's 2008-2009 & 2009-2010 MVP seasons is that those seasons rank one and two in assists per season for him.
LeBron is a better all around player when he focuses on scoring when necessary, but first and foremost creating opportunities for his teammates. In 2009-2010 LeBron totaled 651 assists. Look for LeBron's stats to mirror that rather than his slim 2010-2011 number of only 554 assists.
LeBron will get back to his MVP ways, starting with his re-focsing on creating opportunities for the stars that he has playing beside him. It goes without saying that when LeBron creates opportunities for others, subsequently offensive opportunities open up for him which is a massive win-win.
If LeBron can focus his game on faciltating the ball to the star-power around him, he will not only get more high percentage offensive possessions, but he will also move one step closer to hoisting that elusive NBA championship trophy.
The NBA Championship run for LeBron has to start in 2011.
In his 8th season in the NBA LeBron is still championship-less and that is unacceptable. If LeBron wants to be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game he must win a championship this year. If he doesn't, his legacy will slowly start to fade.
There are a lot of people that don't believe in LeBron's ability to finish games or even to show up in games that matter. While those doubters have a lot of fuel for their fire with the way LeBron has played, this year will be the year he proves them wrong.
LeBron will lead the Miami Heat to a 58-8 overall record which will earn them the #1 seed in the 2011-2012 NBA playoffs. In the playoffs LeBron will have the strongest outing of his career, topping his 2008-2009 playoff averages with 36.5 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game and 8.2 assists per game.
Riding the new found dominance of LeBron, the Miami Heat will beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 games to win the 2011-2012 NBA Championship. If LeBron truly cares about his legacy and truly wants to become one of the all-time bests, what I wrote must become a reality for LeBron.
Alright LeBron, don't prove me wrong. Show everyone this year what you are truly made of. If you don't, you're going to to have a tough uphill climb to get back to the top of the NBA.