Monday, April 1, 2013
LeBron James has been better
By Kevin Pelton
You've seen Tom Haberstroh write here in Per Diem about how LeBron James has become a deadeye shooter. You may have read Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry's story on how James broadened his offensive game to improve his efficiency. You've also likely viewed James' video-game shooting numbers -- 56 percent accuracy from the field and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
So you might be surprised to check out his advanced stats and see one category in which James isn't setting a new career high: player efficiency rating (PER). No April Foolin'. James is still a few tenths of a point behind the 2008-09 performance that earned him his first MVP trophy. Win percentage, the per-minute measure of my wins above replacement player (WARP) metric, and win shares per 48 minutes tell a similar story. Incredible as he has been, the James of 2012-13 still falls short of the 2008-09 incarnation in terms of value.
Explaining why touches on some important truths of basketball analysis, and also gives reasons to appreciate James' ability to be great in two very different ways.