LeBron James hasn’t fouled in 5 games
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Enter, conspiracy theorists. LeBron James has not been whistled for a foul in five games.
The Miami Heat star and defending NBA MVP has played about 211 minutes without a foul, a period spanning two weeks. This streak may be as impressive as his 20-point streak, which has spanned 23 games, the longest to open a season since 1989.
From Yahoo Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie, which brought this streak to our attention:
The streak has actually gone on past 186 minutes. James was hit with his second foul, and offensive charge, 9½ minutes into the Dec. 8 win over the Hornets. This means he played a good 25 minutes or so during that contest without an infraction, which puts the foul-less streak at over 211 minutes.
In the five games since his last foul, on Dec. 8, James has averaged 25.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.2 assists and 1.0 blocks a game. Those numbers approach or better his season averages. But James has averaged only 1.4 fouls a game all season.
The easy explanation is, James gets a lot of favorable calls. Sure, he does. NBA stars always do. Wilt Chamberlain never fouled out. “The Jordan Rules” were a real thing.
But it’s more than that. James has amazing body control despite his 6-9, 250-pound frame. The Heat also have surrounded him with a constantly improving cast of shooters, forcing him to drive into multiple defenders less often.
Then there’s the other end. James has a reputation as an elite defender, making four consecutive all-defensive first teams. But this season, the Heat have not defended as well as they did last season, falling from the elite to the middle of the pack. James ranked among the NBA’s elite in several advanced defensive statistics last season but fails to reach the leader boards this year.
Whatever the case, not fouling is a good thing. It keeps James on the court and opponents off the line.