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LeBron James: Improving on Wow

Oceans of ink (and whatever the internet equivalent of newsprint would be - pixels? keystrokes? Times New Roman characters?) have been used to describe and gawk at the sheer talent of LeBron James, so in calling him a great player, I'm certainly not telling you anything you don't already know. That said...Wow. Not only is LeBron the most talented and best (sorry Kobe Nation) player in the NBA, but he just keeps getting better. And not getting better season-to-season, but rather month-to-month, game-to-game. Yes, let me be the 183,830,383th person to tell you that LeBron James is good.

But to write a "boy isn't LeBron good" post without any statistical backing would be so very Lupica of me, so I shall instead use evidence, just like my seventh-grade science teacher taught me, to prove just how special this LeBron season really is, and why we, as basketball fans, should not take for granted what we're all Witnessing (see what I did there?) here.

First and foremost, the guy is not only playing at an MVP level (nobody else is even remotely close), but he's improving throughout the season. That's a frightening thought to conjure, especially from a player who put up a 28-7-7 last year while running away with the MVP award. But LeBron has somehow found a way to improve. He's markedly improved defensively, and offensively, his numbers are rising like a late-90s tech stock. For the month of January, James is putting up a filthy 33-8-8. Let me repeat that. 33 points, eight rebounds, eight assists. From one player. His PRA (points + rebounds + assists) over his last ten games is 49.4. The closest player to him over that span? Kevin Durant with a 43.1.

Moreover, LeBron's shooting percentages are the best of his career, as hes hitting over 50|PERCENT| from the field and 36|PERCENT| from three. And it's not like we're not dealing with a small sample size here, rather, LeBron has taken the second-most field goals in the league, behind Kobe and strangely just ahead of Monta Ellis (really?) LeBron's 77.5|PERCENT| free throw number is just behind his career best of last year's 78.0|PERCENT|, though it's more impressive when one notes that he's neck-and-neck with Dwight Howard for the most free throw attempts in the league this year. From both a fantasy and real-life standpoint, there's nobody in the league remotely as productive as James.

From a pure basketball standpoint, this is also LeBron's best year as well. The Cavs stand at 35-11, best in the league. Yes, that's behind last year's 37-9 pace from last year. But take into account that five of Cleveland's 11 losses have come by three points or less. Last year through 46 games, they had only three such losses. This year the Cavs have also swept the Lakers (0-2 last year) and beat Orlando in their only meeting this year. Last year Cleveland went 1-2 against the Magic in the regular season before their 4-2 playoff defeat. In fact, the Cavs have won their last eight games against projected Eastern Conference playoff teams.

A better supporting cast isn't the cause for LeBron and the Cavs' improvement this year either. Shaquille O'Neal has been a 350-pound bust. The other Cavs top rotation players - Anderson Varejao, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Daniel Gibson - have all seen their numbers drop this year as well. West missed the beginning of the season, and Williams will miss at least the next month. By the way, in the three games since Williams was hurt, the Cavs beat the Lakers, Thunder and Magic, all formidable opponents. So yes, it can very easily be argued that LeBron is doing more with less this year. And oh, by the way, guess who has led the Cavs in scoring in all but four games this year, and led in assists in all but seven? Yep, you guessed it, Coby Karl. Just kidding.

So when you're watching the Cavs this year in one of their many national TV appearances, let it soak in for a second exactly what you're seeing. A player who will probably win the most lopsided MVP race since mid-90s Jordan. A guy who has only gotten better as the season goes on. Someone who has carried an otherwise-lackluster cast to the best record in the NBA. The only current player who could and should end up living out the Bret "the Hitman" Hart "best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be" maxim. And when you're done, you can go back to imagining him next year on the Knicks/Heat/Clippers/Blazers/insert your favorite team here. But for now, just sit back...and Witness.