It doesn't seem to compute.
LeBron James is shooting a career-high 56.7 percent from the floor this season. That number is mind-blowing as it is, but consider this: Most of James' shots have come on jumpers. And he's still shooting better than most guys who live in the paint.
Take a quick glance at the leaderboard and we find that James ranks eighth in field goal percentage this season among qualified players (minimum 300 attempts) alongside paint mavens such as Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. James is the only wing player of the bunch. In fact, James has attempted more shots outside 10 feet than all of the other top-10 "shooters" combined, according to NBA.com's stats tool.
James is on an absolute tear these days and it's no coincidence that the Heat have won their past 11 games, crushing opponents by an average scoring margin of 12.8 points per game, with the Cavaliers being the defending champions' latest victim on Sunday.
But describing James' run as "hot" doesn't quite do it justice. During the winning streak that dates to Feb. 3, James is shooting 65.5 percent from the floor, 43.6 percent from 3-point range and 79.3 percent from the free throw line. (Overall this season, James is shooting 56.7 percent from the floor, 41 percent on 3s and 74.8 percent on free throws.)
And contrary to popular belief, James is not doing it all on dunks and layups. Because of his sheer physical dominance and endless highlight-reel throwdowns, it's easy to assume that James' run this season has been mostly a product of a merciless desire to attack the basket. But the reality paints a much different picture. It's time we acknowledged the following:
LeBron James now has one of the most lethal jumpers in the league.
Remember those rampant airballs from James' rookie season? Forget about it; same guy, different player. Now smack dab in the middle of his prime as a 28-year-old, James has become everything we wanted him to be. As he showcased in the playoffs last season, James both possesses and embraces a dependable post game where he uses both hands with ease.
And that jumper that plagued his game for so long? As crazy as it sounds, James has developed a jump shot that has been as deadly as those of Steve Novak, Stephen Curry and Kyle Korver.
According to Synergy Sports tracking, James has shot 92 jumpers of the catch-and-shoot variety this season, which is the closest thing we have to an in-game 3-point shooting contest. He's made 48.9 percent of those attempts. When we account for the extra value of a 3-point shot, we find that he's posted an effective field goal percentage of 68.5 percent on those shots.
How good is that? Only Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green has been more efficient on catch-and-shoots. Everyone else trails Green and James in that department.
James ranks among the league's best in catch-and-shoot situations (minimum 90 attempts), according to Synergy Sports tracking.
Player FG FGA FG% eFG%
Danny Green 113 238 47.5 69.5
LeBron James 45 92 48.9 68.5
Steve Novak 92 204 45.1 66.9
Manu Ginobili 56 121 46.3 66.9
Martell Webster 86 183 47 66.9
There's more. When we look at shots that have been defined as unguarded catch-and-shoots, James is shooting an insane 34-of-59, which is effectively 82.2 percent when we account for the 3-point shot. The average NBA player shoots about 65 percent at the rim. So in other words, giving James an open jumper this season has been more devastating than letting an NBA player take a layup.
It's true, catch-and-shoots represent just a small portion of the overall jumper repertoire. But even when we look beyond those types of set shots, James has been nothing short of amazing.
According to Synergy, 28 players have taken at least 400 jump shots this season. So in this sample, we're looking at the most prolific jump shooters on planet Earth -- Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson, Kobe Bryant and James Harden, etc.
Guess who ranks No. 1 in field goal percentage?
That's right, it's James. He's made 44.7 percent of all his jumpers, which equates to an effective field goal percentage of 52.8 percent. Going by effective field goal percentage, James trails only Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick in this group.
But when it comes to straight conversion rate, no one's better. And get this: In 2004-05 -- the first recorded season in the Synergy database -- James ranked second-to-last in jump-shot field goal percentage among 57 players with at least 400 jumpers. He made only 34.8 percent of his tries back then; now it's up to a league-best 44.7 percent.
LEBRON'S JUMP-SHOOTING STATS
Season GP MPG FG FGA FG% eFG%
2012-13 54 38.3 3.4 7.6 44.7% 52.8%
2011-12 62 37.5 3.0 7.8 39.3% 44.3%
2010-11 79 38.8 3.6 9.0 39.8% 45.4%
2009-10 76 39.0 3.9 10.3 38.0% 45.6%
2008-09 81 37.7 3.8 10.4 36.2% 43.2%
2007-08 75 40.4 3.7 10.8 34.2% 40.8%
2006-07 78 40.9 3.3 10.1 32.4% 37.4%
2005-06 79 42.5 4.3 11.8 36.9% 43.0%
2004-05 80 42.3 3.5 10.2 34.8% 40.4%
This isn't fair, not from a guy with Karl Malone's size and Chris Paul's vision. We've been so accustomed to watching highlight after highlight of James driving down the lane and destroying every player in his path that we've overlooked how automatic his jumper has been this season.
How has he done it?
It hasn't been with a shooting regimen in the offseason; he simply didn't have time because of the Olympics. When you ask James about his improved jump shot, he simply shrugs and says it's just a matter of repetition. Ray Allen, arguably the greatest 3-point shooter ever, has admitted that James has beaten him multiple times in post-practice shooting competitions this season.
Coach Erik Spoelstra contends that James has trimmed the fat in his shot selection. And this checks out; James has taken one fewer shot from outside 10 feet per game than he did last season and about two fewer shots than his typical diet in Cleveland. And anecdotally, there's been fewer "dribble it up and chuck it from 25 feet" shots from James these days.
But this might just be a natural progression. When James took the world by storm out of high school, we wondered what he might look like in his prime. Well, here it is, folks. James is registering 27.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game on 56.7 percent shooting -- a stat line that has never been achieved in NBA history.
And he now wields one of the best jump shots in the game. We've never seen anything like this. So sit back and appreciate what he's doing because now more than ever, James is a shooting star.