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LeBron James: ‘I don’t have to rely on super-duper athleticism to be effective’

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Lakers LeBron James - 'I don't have to rely on super-duper athleticism to be effective'
USA Today Network

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers believes there is more to his game than just athleticism. Aside from shooting, the four-time MVP said he had to improve other areas in order to become the greatest basketball player he can be.

“I don’t have to rely on super duper athleticism to be effective,” the 20-year NBA veteran told Spectrum SportsNet. “My first 12 years of my career I was super-duper athletic, and I cannot be as efficient and not be as dialed in on the actual game of basketball.”

Per multiple NBA betting sites, LeBron James has the 18th-best odds to win MVP in 2023. Despite the low odds, some oddsmakers believe that’s a little bit more likely than the Lakers making the playoffs this season.

“I can go out and just figure things out,” continued LeBron James. “I’m also smart enough to know that in order to be the best player I can be, I needed to grow my game. A lot of teams and coaches I played against helped me out a lot. I knew in order to be the best player I can be and be the greatest player of all time, I need no weakness.”

As one would expect, James did rely on his athleticism earlier on in his playing career. In 79 starts with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2005-06 season, Bron averaged a career-high 31.4 points per game.

Lakers forward LeBron James feels he doesn’t have to rely on his “super-duper athleticism to be effective”

In the 2007-08 season, James averaged 30 points per contest off 48.4% shooting from the field. During the regular season with the Miami Heat (2010–14) and Cavaliers (2014–18), he was never as effective scoring-wise. Last season, the 18-time All-Star logged at least 30 points per game for the first time since 2008.

Offensively, the soon to be 38-year-old can still play at a high level. But he has struggled to play with the same level of explosiveness. That should go without saying. Injuries have taken a toll. James cannot carry teams like he used to without sustaining some form of injury.

Through 14 starts this season, LeBron James is averaging 25.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.1 steals. Plus, he’s shooting 46.8% from the field and 32.4% from three-point range. The Lakers forward continues to record 25-point performances every here and there.

However, the four-time NBA champ is averaging a true shooting percentage of 55.8%, his lowest since the 2006-07 season. Not to mention, his player efficiency rating (21) is the lowest since his 2003-04 rookie season.

As his athleticism declines, it starts to show more often in his stats. James’ steal percentage (1.5%) and block percentage (1.6%) are lower than usual at the first-quarter mark of the regular season.

Then again, it’s not like the Lakers are a well-constructed team this season. They’re currently 8-12 and rank 13th overall in the Western Conference standings. L.A. is 3-11 in its last 14 road games. For Friday night’s matchup, the team is an 8.5-point underdog against the Milwaukee Bucks.

James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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