At 32 years old, LeBron James is having one of his most robust statistical seasons.
While he’s averaging his usual 26 points and nearly eight rebounds per game, the number that sticks out the most is his 8.2 assists per game, the second highest average of his career.
On a Cleveland Cavaliers team stocked with scorers and shooters, James has tried to improve his playmaking skills, specifically, by learning how to throw the perfect pass.
James told ESPN earlier in the season that he knows exactly how each of his teammates — whether they like to catch the ball with the seam, without the seams, high, low, etc.
On Tuesday before the Cavs took on the Utah Jazz, James said he gave new teammate Kyle Korver the same treatment.
“I’ve watched about 25 minutes of his clips over the last couple of days,” James told reporters. “I’ve seen where he likes the ball, how he likes the ball, if he likes it low, if he likes it high, if he likes it seams, no seams.
“From my perspective, as far as a quarterback, see where my receiver likes the ball. See what sides he likes to come off of pin-downs [screens] and things of that nature. So, I got a good feeling, but it will also take some time on the floor. But I’ll get the ball to him.”
Though James didn’t want to reveal his total scouting report for his teammates, when pressed, he gave a brief rundown of how to pass to his teammates.
“It doesn’t matter for Channing [Frye]. I try to put it on the seams as much as possible, but he catches and fires, he doesn’t move the ball. You see some guys, when they catch it, they kind of move it and fix it. Channing lets it go. Champ [James Jones] lets it go. But you gotta put the ball high for Champ, because he shoots it at the peak of the height. J.R. [Smith] likes the ball a little bit lower because he kind of dips with it, and also with [Mike] Dunleavy [Jr.] before the trade, he liked it low, too, because he used to dip with the ball, too.”
James also said that players like Frye, Jones, Smith, and Kevin Love have “ultra-green lights” to shoot the ball whenever they get it. He told reporters that he gave Kyle Korver that same advice — shoot it as soon as he gets it.
While James had a relatively low assist count in the Cavs’ loss to the Jazz (five), he did show off his impeccable ball placement, hitting DeAndre Liggins right in the pocket for a corner three.
And later did the same for Kevin Love.
As James gets older, becoming more and more of a playmaker may be a natural progression of his game, particularly alongside more scoring-minded players like Irving and Love. Additionally, James stepping up as the team’s quarterback suggests he, Irving, and Love are finding a more natural harmony on offence, as they figure out who should get the ball and when.
The addition of Korver only adds another receiver to James’ arsenal.
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