How Recovering from Injury Improved LeBron James’ Game

LeBron James is often noted as being one of the finest basketballers of the modern era, and he’s got the medals to prove it. James has won four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, three NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, an NBA scoring title, and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

But he had a weakness in his game and a big one at that. Two years ago this month, James was the NBA’s worst three-point shooter, with a 28.5% conversion rate.

But today, he is putting up career-high shooting numbers across the board, including a 42.2% three-point shooting accuracy, and a 58.3% overall. Of the 30 NBA players taking at least 10 or more two-pointers a game, James is top with 67.5%, and his three-pointers are scoring more frequently than Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and MVP favourite James Harden.

So, what changed to make LeBron start hitting the target? In July, he was forced to change the release point of his shooting after his elbow mysteriously swelled to the size of a tennis ball. He reportedly had to wear a compression sleeve at all times, even when he was off the court.

Similar to the way those who are having tennis elbow treatment adjust their technique to minimise strain on the joints, LeBron raised the release point on his shot to reduce the pain he was experiencing in his elbow. After seeing positive results with his shooting accuracy, he kept the same point even after the swelling had subsided.

James had previously been criticised for rushing and missing too many shots. Aside from the small adjustment, his shooting stroke looks largely the same, but it has caused his pull-up three-point rate to increase from 29.3% in 2015-16 to 41.1% this season. His catch-and-shoot numbers have also risen from 33% to over 40% over the last two years as well.

James, currently in his 15th year in the NBA just proves that by listening to your body and having the correct treatment for your ailment, you can continue to improve your game no matter how old you are!


Photo courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr, under Creative Commons

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