This is LeBron James’ best start to a season ever

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LeBron James has been a statistical beast this season.

He is averaging 29.2 points per game, 8.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds. He is shooting 55.1 percent, the best of his career, because he’s cut down on his three pointers and long twos and instead is playing more out of the post and closer to the rim.

His current PER of 33.3 this season is better than any other player has ever kept up over the course of a season. Better than Wilt Chamberlain (31.8), better than Michael Jordan (31.7), better than them all.

Over 20 games, this is LeBron’s best start ever. Over at ESPN’s Heat Index Tom Haberstroh broke down the numbers.

James’ 33.4 PER after 20 games is his best, barely eclipsing his 2008-09 start when he put up a 32.1 PER along with 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game in just 35.1 minutes of nightly action. The 17-3 Cavs were embarrassing teams so badly that season that James sat the bench for over a quarter’s worth of time in the early going. But still, on a per-minute basis, James’ current campaign bests even that one.

What sets the current pace apart from his past starts is his rebounding and shooting efficiency. Sure, he’s averaged 29 points and seven assists before, but never eight rebounds and never with 55 percent shooting.

What LeBron is doing so far this season is stunning.

Right now some of you are saying, so what? Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t win a title. (And even then many will dismiss him or want an asterisk next to it if he does get one this year.) I think there is merit to an amazing regular season, but frankly LeBron would agree with you — he doesn’t care if he doesn’t get a title this year.

There are times we let our passions blind us to how beautiful and amazing a player or team can be. We shouldn’t do that with LeBron this season — he has been amazing and we should enjoy it. There will never be many players of his caliber in this league, and we need to appreciate what we have while we have it.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.

Aaron Gordon throws himself alley-oop off backboard (video)

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Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?

The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.

There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.