Even after winning his first NBA championship and third MVP award, LeBron James is not finished tinkering with his game. The Miami Heat star recently revealed that he has spent the offseason working on a hook shot that would diversify his skills in the post and give him yet another option to score.
ESPN.com reported Wednesday that James has been mimicking the famous "sky hook" of NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar this summer, spending extra time after Heat practices during training camp to perfect the shot. It is part of his newly-embraced role in the post, which he employed during the 2011-2012 season to make him a more effective shooter and open up shots for his teammates on the perimeter.
"I'll be down here even more this year," James told ESPN during one after-practice session recently. "Might as well keep getting more comfortable."
After the Heat lost the 2011 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, James worked out with NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to improve his game in the low post. The theory was that he could become more efficient on offense by using his size and quickness near the basket to create easy shots. It worked for him, as he led the Heat to a title the following season.
The Heat doubled down on James' role as a post player this offseason, adding veteran sharp-shooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis via free agency. By surrounding James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh with effective three-point shooters, the Heat hope all three can score a majority of their points from close range.
Heat fans got a sneak peak at this strategy in Game 5 of the 2012 Finals, when James assisted on seven three-pointers once the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to double- and triple-team him near the basket. That left Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and other wing shooters wide open from three-point range, and James was happy to dish to them for easy scores.
By adding a hook shot (which Abdul-Jabbar used to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer), James gives himself one extra way to score from the post, and opponents one more reason to leave one of his teammates open from three-point range.
Don't expect James to make the hook shot his first choice, though. He told ESPN that he still prefers to shoot facing the basket (on a hook shot, the shooter is moving away from the basket and is positioned perpendicular to the hoop, using his hand away from the basket to flip a high-arcing shot over his head).
Regardless, the fact that one of the NBA's best scorers is working on a new way to put up points will have Heat fans salivating when the team opens its title defense on October 30 against the Boston Celtics.