He didn't look any slimmer to me this year. His trainer said he was 265, and he's been 265-270 the last 4 seasons, He was already 260 in '08, maybe '07. His weight isn't an issue at all, though, he's in great shape, he's put on weight naturally.
And just how big is James, exactly? Well, that is a matter of intense speculation around the NBA. He came into the league in 2003 weighing 240 pounds and is listed at 250 in this year's media guide, but that number is clearly low. There are whispers that he goes 265; one report recently had him at 274. "He's at least 260, right?" guessed Jackson, who added that D-ing up James is like "guarding a brick wall."
In an attempt to settle the matter last week I brought a scale to my interview with James at a ballroom in San Francisco's St. Regis Hotel. He laughed, but didn't get on. "I can't let everybody know everything about LeBron," said James, who more than any other star understands the value of mystique. He did joke that he'd "gotten fat" -- this from a man with 5% body fat whose raised veins run like tiny interstates up his arms and calves -- then hemmed and hawed before confiding that he had gained eight pounds this summer "even though I was trying to lose 10." That said, a Cavs source puts James's weight "between 265 and 270."
So I don't know why there's been a mystery about his weight, that adds up perfectly. Lebron admitted he was 260 in '08, then claimed right there in the '09 season that he gained 8 pounds, which also adds up with the Cavs source putting his weight between 265-270.
But yeah, the weight gain and his improved jumper actually did happen around the same time. After a disastrous shooting season in '07, and another mediocre shooting season in '08, he reconstructed his jumper in the '08 offseason and then became a solid shooter. His shot looked a lot better, his balance improved, his release became more consistent and he didn't rely on elevating as much.
He's actually never looked natural shooting, it's surprising he's become as good as he has. Wade looks like he'd be a better shooter, but outside of '06, when he was showing a nice mid-range game, and '09, when he had an excellent mid-range game and even became a 3 point threat, Wade hasn't even had a decent jumper.
Oddly, he entered the league without a jumper, that was the big question about him, showed some progress in '05, continued his improvement in '06 and had a solid shooting season, but then regressed horribly in '07, his jumper just seemed broken, I was surprised when he made them.
Lebron's 16-23 foot jumper fell off this year, and he shot his worst percentage from that range since '08, but he has a much better in between game and short range game than ever before. He didn't have a jumper in that range before he joined Miami, but it got better with Lebron becoming a decent post player, and hitting that turnaround jumper pretty often.
Lebron's best shooting season is actually '11, that was a big part of how he was beating Boston and Chicago. Strangely, he did seem more athletic this season than in '11, and I can't figure it out. Maybe I'm imagining it.