Good LeBron, Bad LeBron: The greatness and imperfection of James’ 44-point Game 1

LeBron James put up 44 points in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals as the Cavaliers went down to defeat in overtime, failing to take advantage of what was probably their best chance to steal a game on the Warriors’ home floor. It was the highest-scoring Finals game of James’ career, and an at times dominant, yet at times frustrating performance.

In many ways, LeBron did a perfect job of exhibiting what I view as the good and the bad of his offensive game.

The good: He is an unstoppable scoring force who can bring a defense to its knees when he posts up, attacks the basket, and takes on-balance shots in the flow of the offense.

The bad: He too often bails out the defense with ill-advised, long-distance, low percentage shots, often fading away, completely outside of the flow of the offense. When he does this he fails to take advantage of his strengths and reduce his teammates to useless bystanders.

Good LeBron was on display in abundance, as he posted up no less than 26 times – surely as much as any time in his career. As an onlooker who often bemoaned his unwillingness or inability to do work in the low post throughout the first half of his career, it is refreshing and rewarding to see him going to his now beautifully-refined post game. Continue reading

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Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

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A year ago, Kyrie Irving was the toast of the NBA – a 23 points per game scorer and the leading “clutch” performer in the league at just 20 years old. “It’s Kyrie Irving’s world; soon we’ll all be living in it,” proclaimed one excited reporter. In the offseason Irving was ranked by ESPN as the 8th best player in the league.

What happened?

Firstly, the hype was somewhat unfounded – many were basing their inflated opinions of Irving on stats and highlight plays alone rather than a deep understanding of his game and his influence on a team that remained heavily under .500.

Secondly, and most maddeningly, Kyrie has not only failed to make a leap in his third season as a pro, he has actually regressed from last year.

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