How many months of regular-season basketball has LeBron James played in his career? That's a tricky question. Injuries cut into plenty of them. Most seasons include partial months like October and April, and due to a lockout and COVID, James has played in several seasons with severely altered schedules. If we set 10 games as the benchmark here, November, 2023 is his 88th regular-season month as an NBA player. It is also, somehow, among his best.
Not necessarily in terms of volume stats, of course. As impressive as his 28.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game have been, they represent garden variety LeBron. Where November, 2023 stands out is his efficiency. In his 21st season in the NBA, LeBron James is having arguably the best shooting month of his career.
In nine games so far, the Lakers star has made 61% of his field goal attempts. That is a feat matched in only three other months of his career: Feb. 2013, Nov. 2013 and Feb. 2017. In other words, we have two months from James' peak in Miami, one from his peak in Cleveland... and right now.
In addition, he is shooting 44% on 3-pointers. That is a feat matched in just four other months of his career: Dec. 2010, Nov. 2013, Feb. 2017 and and March, 2021... in which he played only six games. Let's knock that last one off because of his low number of games played. James never attempted more than 4.1 3's per game in any of the remaining months. Right now, he's at 5.6 per game in November.
Unsurprisingly, this has boosted several of his more advanced shooting percentages. His true shooting percentage, for instance, has reached 70.3% in November. Only 21 players have ever matched that figure over a full season. None of them took even eight shots per game, and all of them were centers. The majority of their shots were assist-created dunks. His effective field goal percentage is up to 68.2%. The highest figure any player has ever posted in a full season taking at least the 17.1 shots per game James has attempted in November is 63%. That was Stephen Curry during the Warriors' 73-win 2015-16 season.
Individually, these are all benchmarks that James has hit at some month or another. But has he ever reached all of them at the same time? That has happened just once, in Feb. 2017, but there are two important caveats here if we're debating the best shooting months of LeBron's career. The first is free throws. James shot 66.7% from the line in Feb. 2017. He's at 72.6% now. The second is consistency. Thus far in November, James has shot above 50% from the field in every single game he's played. That wasn't the case in Feb. 2017, when he fell below 50% in a nine-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Anecdotally, it's also worth pointing out that in most of the other months we've covered, James was playing with another All-Star level shot-creator in Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving. That isn't the case now.
So how is James doing this, aside from, well, the fact that he just isn't missing? His shot-selection is a pretty significant element of this success. At this stage of his career, James has all but cut out bad shots. Of the 104 2-point shots he's attempted in November, 64 of them have come in the restricted area. Add the 50 3-pointers he's taken and over 74% of his shots have been the two most efficient in his arsenal. James still takes the occasional runner, and his turnaround jumper in the post has become a favored weapon late in shot-clocks, but generally, James is simply prioritizing his most valuable looks.
It helps that the Lakers are doing a better job this season of providing him at least a modicum of space to work with. To nobody's surprise, the Lakers are taking the fewest 3-pointers in the league in November at 28.1 attempts per game, but they are making a league-average 35.9% of them. Unlike the double-big or Russell Westbrook iterations of this roster, the Lakers are at least doing a good job of pairing James with teammates opponents will have to guard from deep.
Is this going to continue for the entire month? History says that's unlikely. Even by his own lofty standards, November has been a special month for James. His numbers might wind up falling short of some of those prime months we covered, but considering how few players even make it to month No. 88, it'd be hard to argue against this as at least the most impressive shooting month of his career.