Miami Heat Stat Monkey Brief: Heat/Magic (12/31/12)

Where we sing the praises of LeBron, forever and ever amen.

After back to back losses in Detroit and Milwaukee, Miami will be looking to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season in Orlando tonight. Despite Dwyane Wade’s return from suspension, the Heat still struggled to score against the Bucks defense. Chris Bosh in particular had a tough night as, matched up against Larry Sanders, he went just 5 of 14 from the field. Fortunately for Miami, with a nERD ranking of 39.6, the 23rd ranked Magic are a good team to get back on track against.

Shooting Is Not Enough

Looking only at the shooting numbers for Orlando Magic, with an 12th ranked effective field goal percentage of 48.8 percent, one might assume they were a competent offensive team. In reality, with an offensive efficiency of 100.7 points per 100 possessions, they are the second worst offensive team in the league.

The Magic are able to pull off this impressive feat by being absolutely terrible in every other aspect of offense. They are a poor offensive rebounding team, hauling in only 24.9 percent of available offensive rebounds. Holding onto the ball is not a specialty, as Orlando turns the ball over on a 28th ranked 14.5 percent of their possessions. No team in basketball is worse at drawing fouls. The cumulative result of these factors is that they, proportionally, they have fewer opportunities to score than most teams in the league, even though they hit shots they do get off at a reasonable clip.

LeBron James

I could easily spend literally every article drooling over the outstanding performance of LeBron James, but ranting about Miami’s lack of offensive rebounding and poor perimeter defense is usually more entertaining. I would be remiss in my duties, however, if I did not mention it on the day that his season-long streak of 20+ point performances moves into second all-time ahead of Celtics legend Kevin McHale. James is hardly a volume scorer; he has the fifth highest effective field goal percentage in the league with 58.6 percent.

More impressive still is that he has maintained this level of offensive efficiency despite having amassed more than double the shot attempts of any of the four players ahead of him on this list. James is on pace for over 1500 field goal attempts on the season. If he maintains this efficiency from the floor, he would be the only player to do so with at least 1500 field goal attempts since Shaq in 1994. Not bad.

LeBron has always been an efficient scorer, but this would be a career high in effective field goal percentage. This year’s improvement has been largely due to a newfound effectiveness from beyond the arc. He is currently shooting 43.3 percent on threes, which would break the career high he set last year of 36.2 percent. The past two years, LeBron has taken fewer threes per game than he has any time since his rookie season. His increased selectivity with this shot is clearly paying off.