Can LeBron actually get better?

It's a scary thought, but the NBA's best player still has room to improve

Updated: June 27, 2012, 10:26 AM ET
By David Thorpe | ESPN Insider
LeBron JamesRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesEven LeBron James, the NBA's best player, has shooting flaws he can improve upon.

Does the best player in the world actually have anything to improve?

Yes, the reigning regular-season and Finals MVP can indeed grow into an even more destructive force on the basketball court, even with a title in hand. If you compare just the 2011-12 season with previous seasons, James has displayed the work ethic and talent to add skills to his game. So how can he take his game to yet another level?

This two-part series will examine two facets of LeBron James' game -- shooting and free throws -- that if improved even slightly could translate into increased production. The first part will tackle shooting, including 3-point shooting, and offer a technical breakdown of what James can do to improve. The second part will deal with how James can improve his free throw shooting.

Small change, big impact

Look at the chart to the right. Which player is the better shooter?

By these numbers, it's fair to conclude Player B is the better finisher from inside 16 feet and Player A is the better long-range shooter. But it's not as if Player A is a brilliant shooter and B is a slouch.

Player B is James, and Player A is Kevin Durant. Durant made just 39.5 percent of his shots from 10 to 15 feet this season, way off his career-best 47.1 percent two seasons ago. James made 45 percent of his 16- to 23-foot jumpers in 2010-11, only slightly below Durant's personal best of 46 percent this year.

For comparison's sake, Dirk Nowitzki, who in a sense shoots almost every long jumper uncontested since he is so tall, made a career-best 52 percent from that range last year. So we must acknowledge James is not just a unique package of passing, dribbling and explosively athletic skills in a 6-foot-9, 260-pound body, but he is also a brilliant finisher and a "pretty good" shooter. Which is why, if he learns to shoot the ball a bit better, he'll have an even easier time destroying his competition.