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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Is LeBron James an elite shooter?

By Tom Haberstroh

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.

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