LeBron James may be 32 years old, but he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Throughout his Hall of Fame career, he has entered each season conditioned and ready to go. This campaign is no exception, as he has led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 4-1 start with remarkable performances.
James is off to a scorching-hot individual start, averaging 27.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 37.4 minutes per contest.
Now that Russell Westbrook gained Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul is James Harden’s teammate and Kawhi Leonard is battling an early injury, James could very well end up in a two-man race with Giannis Antetokounmpo as far as the MVP award goes.
While it’s obviously too early to tell, both LeBron and the Greek Freak fill the box score on a nightly basis, positively impacting the game on both ends of the floor.
However, it was recently revealed that LeBron subtly changed something about his game this summer. Until he pointed it out, no one seemed to notice, either.
This past offseason, James altered his shooting stroke in the offseason after his right elbow mysteriously swelled to the size of a tennis ball after the conclusion of the NBA Finals, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
"I don't know where it came from," James said after the Cavs' 119-112 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. "I was working out in L.A. in late June, and my wife was like, 'What's wrong with your elbow?' I'm like, 'What?' ... The weirdest s---."
McMenamin added that it bothered LeBron so much that he had to wear a compression sleeve on his right arm even when he wasn’t working out since his arm would lock when he reached the L-shape in his stroke.
Now he uses a slightly higher release point in his shot to minimize the discomfort. Here’s a close look of him warming up. Can you notice a difference?
"I'm at a point now in my career where I know if I need to make an adjustment here or there,” he said.
Luckily, it hasn’t bothered him so far this season. "It just went away," he explained. "It just went away on its own. I never drained it. I talked about it, but no, never drained it.”
"I shoot it higher," James said. "When the swelling went down, I just continued to do the same motion, the same motion. My free throws, my 3s, my pullups, all that.”
In regards to his goal for the season when it comes to shooting, James set his sights on the charity stripe. "I want to shoot 80 [percent] from the free throw line, man," James told ESPN. "That's my only goal. That's my last goal of my NBA career. That's my last one. I've done everything else.”
Through his first five games, he has gone 19-for-25 (76 percent) from the free throw line.
Bron’s new shot caught the eye of sharpshooting teammate Kyle Korver, who knows a thing or two about proper form. Here’s what he had to say about it.
"He's just more compact," Korver told ESPN. "I always tell him he's the strongest man in the game, he needs to shoot a strong shot. And he says it all the time when he's shooting, 'Think strong, strong, strong.' His hand is real strong on the ball and his form is more compact than it's ever been before and I think that he's a worker, man. He shoots a lot. And you can tell he worked on it a lot this summer. So it's just much more compact and strong than I've seen from him on a consistent basis.”
With Korver’s stamp of approval and early-season success, it seems as though the high release-point might become a fixture of James’ game moving forward.