Perkins: LeBron is better, but why?

MIAMI – LeBron James is averaging 23.9 points, 10 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. And all things considered, this might end up being the best statistical year of his career.

James, the undisputed leader of the Miami Heat’s Big Three, has averaged more points and dished out more assists per game (it’d be a career-best in rebounds). He’s looking like a better player this season.

The thing is, it’s tough to say for sure why he’s so good right now. Is it his all-around game that’s most impressive, or his leadership?

Watch him tonight when the Heat (6-2) visit the Los Angeles Clippers (5-2). You decide.

You’ll probably conclude James is taking the title of “Best Player on the Planet” to a new level of effectiveness.

Maybe it was un-burdening himself by finally winning a title. Maybe it’s just the way it’s supposed to be. But James is doing amazing things so far this season.

“I mean, how did anybody ever question him, looking back on it now, in big moments?” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after James rescued the Heat in Houston on Monday.

“This guy is the ultimate competitor. He gets absolutely amplified in these situations, and you can see him coming to life. He’s done it over and over again. We don’t take it for granted. He’s the best player in the game, but he does it in the most important moments.”

He’s on a career-best streak of five consecutive games scoring at least 20 points and grabbing at least 10 rebounds. It would be six games, but he had 20 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists against Denver. That was not the first time this season he narrowly missed a triple-double. It happened a few games ago when he was one assist short.

He’s off to a great start.

While James has been acclimating new teammates Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, he’s also been putting the defending champions on his shoulders.

You see it every night. The low-post game that’s being honed to a seldom-seen blend of brute strength and delicate finesse. The on-the-money pull-up jumpers. The off-balance jumpers. The powerful drives to the basket.

At the end of Monday’s 113-110 victory at Houston he was defending Rockets hotshot James Harden. That’s nothing new. We’ve seen James defend Derrick Rose. Kevin Durant. Tyson Chandler. Spoelstra has taken to calling him “One Through Five” because those are the positions James defends.

James forced Harden to shoot an errant jumper on the Rockets’ final possession.

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