What if the best player on the planet ... got better? LeBron James told reporters Friday that if he put the work in, he could become a 50-40-90 shooter: 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range, 90 percent from the line.
LeBron says can shoot 90 percent from foul line, 50 pct from field and 40 percent on 3-pointers if makes it a goal:
“I can achieve anything if I just make it a goal of mine,'' James said. "I never made it a goal of mine. If I decided to do it, I can make it happen.''
James shot 56 percent from the field this season and a career-best 41 percent from 3-point range, but he shot just 75 percent from the free-throw line. He has been tinkering with his free-throw form all year, trying to emulate Ray Allen.
MVP runner-up Kevin Durant finished second for the scoring title, shooting 50-40-90, and the mark is generally considered to represent the elite of shooting production.
What would a move to 90 percent from the line mean for James? A point more per game, from 5.3 points per game from free throws to 6.3. The only player to ever do anything comparable with his overall production is Larry Bird, who averaged 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists at 50-40-90 in 1987. Which, by the way, is completely insane.
It's a pretty strong sign that James still has his eyes on improving his game. He's adapted a post game, improved his 3-point shooting, gotten better at defense and become better at running an offense. The idea of him improving is just ... incredible.
So why doesn't he? Because there's only so much he can give to maintain his skills and keeping his body in condition without risking an overload. Maybe this is the absolute best he can be. It's certainly the best he needs to be to win titles. But if he can manage to tweak and adjust, just get a little more out of his game, then it's less of a needed accomplishment and more proof of just how much mastery he has.
Either way, he's not lacking for confidence in that ability, and maybe that's the important part.