Even in his 16th NBA season, LeBron James is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers.
In his first season with the Lakers, James entered Monday’s game against the Heat averaging 28.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists. But it’s the efficiency that comes with those statistics that really stands out, with the 14-time All-Star shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from three-point range.
While those numbers have become the norm for James during his Hall of Fame career, it’s the fact he can still do it with his 34th birthday at the end of the month that’s impressive.
“I’m so used to him being efficient,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Monday in advance of his final matchup against James before Wade retires at the end of the season. “Like when he was in Miami, I think he shot like 60-something percent from the field for a season. Like, it was something crazy like that. Like I’m used to that. So, from that standpoint, I know the caliber of player he is, the work he puts in, the IQ he has of the game, all of that.”
Wade is referring to the 2013-14 season, when James shot a career-best 56.7 percent from the field in his final year with the Heat.
To put all of this into perspective, there are only five players drafted in 2003 who have played in the NBA this season — James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia.
James is averaging the most points among the players in that group, with Wade second at 14.9 points per game entering Monday.
“I don’t ever take it for granted what he does,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James. “He makes this look so easy regardless of team or age. C’mon, most guys just can’t do what he’s doing.”
It’s even more impressive when you consider James is doing it in his first season with the Lakers after spending the previous four with the Cavaliers.
“I think it’s great. It’s something he wanted to do,” Wade said of James’ move to Los Angeles. “For a player to be able to map out their career the way he’s been able to map it out. You can say what you want about it, but he’s doing it his way.
“This is how he wanted to end it, here in L.A. in a big city with the bright lights both on and off the court. He is L.A. He’s one of those Magic [Johnsons] and [Shaquille O’Neals]. He’s one of those guys. It’s fitting that he went the path that he did in his career, and then he decided to come to L.A.”
Ellington back with Heat
Heat guard Wayne Ellington will be available for Monday’s game against the Lakers after missing the first two games of the trip due to the death of his grandmother.
Ellington was in Philadelphia with family for Saturday’s funeral and met the team in Los Angeles on Sunday. His grandmother, Elaine Stanford, was 88.
“She played a huge role for me,” Ellington said. “I actually spent a lot of time at her house. Whenever my mom was at work when I was a kid, that’s where I spent most of my summers and things like that. So she was huge for me. It’s unfortunate, but she lived a full life. She left an amazing impact on all of us. So it’s more of a celebration at this point celebrating her life.”
It’s a baby boy for Whiteside
Center Hassan Whiteside has been away from the team awaiting the birth of his first child. The Heat announced Monday that his son was born Sunday morning.
Whiteside missed his third consecutive game Monday, and there is still no timeline for his return.