While acknowledging the Cavaliers’ status as the likely no.1 seed in the Eastern Conference is mostly due to the performance of MVP candidate LeBron James, Bulls.com’s Sam Smith points out, “perhaps even more remarkable is in a season James is being pushed by many to be on the all-league defensive team, he is being called for fewer fouls than perhaps any top perimeter player in the history of the game.”
James is averaging 1.72 fouls per game in an average of 37.9 minutes per game. James hasn’t even been in foul trouble one game this season. He never has had more than four fouls called on him in a game, and since March 1 is being called for fewer than 1.3 fouls per game.
In 12 of the 20 games since then, James has been called for one or zero fouls in a game. James had a stretch of five straight games to conclude March averaging 36.8 minutes per game without being called for one foul. Not one in five games! In the last nine games, James has been called for three personal fouls. It’s really amazing given the involvement James has in the action of the game.
“It’s impossible,” said one team executive.
The executive said there is one slight explanation. That the game has changed to so much drive and kick that the perimeter defenders end up guarding the three so much, and don’t foul as often. That there is less one on one penetration. Still, he said not for five consecutive games like that.
James is now averaging 2.02 fouls per game in his career and has fouled out just three times in six seasons. Jordan averaged 2.6 fouls per game in his career and had fouled out eight times in his first six seasons.
It simply defies explanation how James, who is an aggressive player, can be whistled for so few fouls per game, and especially at a time his team is saying he never has played better defense and when the rules are more stringent regarding perimeter contact. Can he truly be that perfect?