MIAMI – You look at LeBron James’ statistics – 25.4 points per game and a career-best 8.6 rebounds — and you begin to wonder …
Is it possible James, the Miami Heat’s superstar small forward, could be a 20-10 guy? Could James, a perimeter player, average 10 rebounds per game? For the NBA’s 29th-best rebounding team, no less?
The big challenge for James to grab those extra couple of rebounds per game would be expending that much more energy per night. That’s asking a lot from a guy who already does so much.
We all know he has the skills. In the third quarter alone of the Heat’s 102-72 victory over Washington on Saturday, James had 16 points and five rebounds.
He treated it almost as an afterthought.
“No motivation,” he said. “I just wanted to make a statement on the game. I wasn’t shooting the ball particularly well to start the game; I missed a lot of free throws. I was just trying to make an impact in the game the best way I know how to.”
Here’s part of the problem for James to hit 10 rebounds per game: when you defend point guards and shooting guards, and shoot jumpers, it’s tough to stay close enough to the rim to get to 10 per game.
James averages 6.9 rebounds per game for his career. But he tied a career-best with 7.9 rebounds per game last season, matching his total from 2007-08. And in his first season with the Heat he averaged 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s on the right track. But it’s a challenge.
It’s rare that we see a 20-10 season from a guy who largely makes his living on the perimeter. James attacks the rim on a regular basis. But if you don’t keep your head under the rim, such as a power forward or center, you have to be really active and athletic to get enough rebounds.
Dallas small forward Shawn Marion averaged 21.8 points and 11.9 rebounds while playing for Phoenix in 2005-06. But you don’t see it often from perimeter players. Marion averaged 21.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in 2002-03. Maybe it was the system, maybe not. But Marion has always been active.
Charlotte swingman Gerald Wallace averaged 18.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the 2009-10 season. He got close. He obviously fits that model of a high-energy guy.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant could be a 20-10 perimeter guy at some point. He’s averaging 27.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Last season he averaged 28.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. He’s an active enough to hit that standard.
Those are the type guys we’re talking about.