Charley Rosen: LeBron James Should Move Without the Ball
November, 6, 2006
The crank watched Cleveland/San Antonio and not surprisingly found flaws in, essentially, every Cavalier. ("Eric Snow," writes Rosen, "can no longer remember when he was able to play acceptable defense.") He also noticed something important about the evolution of LeBron James:
LBJ started high on the left side, used an elbow screen by Ilgauskas to facilitate a diagonal cut to the right box, where he set a baseline screen for Larry Hughes, then raced up the lane to utilize another (and opposite) elbow screen by Gooden in order to curl toward the ball. Then came the pass, the catch and the shot ... BINGO! And the Cavs were on the board.
So, then, instead of starting his offensive move from a standstill, LBJ used two screens, set one screen, made two cuts and one curl before touching the ball. Hallelujah! At long last, coach Mike Brown has asked LBJ to move without the ball and expand his half-court offense beyond merely catching-and-creating.
But hold on. As the game progressed, Cleveland only ran this particular play a total of five times. The results were three hoops for James, one miss and one foul (he made 1-of-2). That's seven points in five possessions, or 1.4 points per touch.
All the rest of LBJ's shot attempts in set-up situations resulted from his normal procedure of catching the ball up-high, on a wing or in the pivot, then faking and/or diddling before going to work. The numbers here were six buckets (one of which came after he dribbled for eight seconds), two foul shots, one assist and one turnover in 18 standstill receptions. Some of his scores were spectacular — a flying dunk over Tim Duncan, a remarkable right-to-left switcheroo, etcetera, etcetera —' yet the final tally was .83 points per touch. (The rest of LBJ's point production came either on fast breaks or in early offense.)