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LeBron James changed his shooting motion due to an elbow injury

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A mysterious elbow caused a change in James’ shot, and it might be for the better.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Over the summer, a few weeks after the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, LeBron James right elbow swole up to the size of a tennis ball. And it caused him to change his shooting form.

Speaking to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James revealed the elbow injury and said it hadn’t been bothering him in the playoffs and that it wasn’t the same as the one he dealt with during the 2010 playoffs.

“I don't know where it came from,” James told ESPN. “I was working out in L.A. in late June and my wife was like, 'What's wrong with your elbow?' I'm like, 'What?' ... The weirdest s---.”

As the summer went on, James had to wear a compression sleeve even when he wasn’t working out. And when he practiced, he says he started shooting with a higher release to minimize discomfort in the elbow. Eventually, the swelling went away without James having to get it drained. But the change in his form stayed.

“I shoot it higher,” James said, per ESPN. “When the swelling went down I just continued to do the same motion, the same motion. My free throws, my threes, my pullups, all that.”

So far this year, James the change has seemingly lead to improvement. Through four games, he’s shooting 61.4 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from three-point range and 88.2 percent from the free throw line. And it has him chasing a new goal, per ESPN: shooting 80 percent from the free throw line, something he’s never done in his NBA career. The closest he came was shooting 78 percent from the line in the 2012-13 season.

There’s still a lot of season to go, but who knows: maybe James, and the Cavs, will be able to say thanks to the mysterious elbow swelling from over the summer.