"I could play better," said LeBron James on Wednesday morning.
Athletes often say this. Perfect is the enemy of good, as the aphorism says, but so many times we have seen stars illuminate our television screen and then regret the tiny mistakes they made. In the case of James, this 32-year-old has started this season playing the best basketball of a legendary race, and tells us to wait even more.
"For me, every month, I get better and better" James continued. "This is how I have always been in my career". I become stronger and stronger as the months go by. I just want to keep improving every month. "
Another player, and we could dismiss this as an athlete, but this is LeBron James, whose basketball prowess is unparalleled and whose brain works in an unfamiliar way. that Wednesday, when James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their 1
Well, then, ignoring everything James says as "talking like an athlete" is a mistake James said he gets better and better every month of the year, and we can prove if he is right. Here are James' career divisions, separated by month.
LeBron James, per month
|January  27.9||7.2||58||] 32.4||116|
James really gets a better month for month
There is a direct linear increase in October to April, and James is very good in any month. But he is right. Of course, he is right. This is LeBron James, and he knows exactly how good he is at all times.
James' worst month is October and the best month, April. The numbers fluctuate a bit, but it is consistently better in the last three months of the season than the first three. You can see that James becomes increasingly aggressive throughout the year, with his attendance figures lower in March and April, while his rate of use goes up more. But he is also more efficient later in the year, and his offenses are also at their best. (The offensive rating used in this graph comes from the irreplaceable basketball-reference.com.)
No, James does not continue his improvement in the playoffs: his career postseason averages are 28.4 points, 6.9 assists, 57.4 True Shooting percentage, use rate of 31.9 and 115 offensive rating. Against tougher defenders in seven-game series, that's to be expected.
But improving this season would be special
On Monday, Tom Ziller of SB Nation ranked all 15 seasons in James' career. It's premature to qualify this season, but so far, it's his fourth-best season. (James has won four MVPs, let's remind him)
James could stay at exactly the same level and no one would bother. James could decline slightly and still be a deserving MVP candidate. James could reject more than that and still be better than practically anyone in the league. That's how good it has been.
But that was not what James said. James said he will continue to improve, because that is what he does throughout his career, and who are we to doubt him?
James is scoring fifth in his career history, and most since his first season in Cleveland – and he's doing it in a 66.8 percent True Shooting percentage almost impossible. Only two players have averaged more than 28 points with a true Shot percentage better than 66 in a full season: Stephen Curry in the 2015-16 season, and Charles Barkley in 1987-88. We know that James has never approached that barrier, so it would be logical to expect him to fall a little. There are almost three quarters of a season left, and LeBron James will remain LeBron James if these numbers decrease a bit.
But … James says it can be even better. Of all, he would know, and I do not want to be the one to doubt him.