The Best LeBron James We’ve Ever Seen
The success of the Cleveland Cavaliers begins and ends with the play of LeBron James. In fact, it always has ever since he was drafted in 2003. When LeBron took the leap into the league’s upper echelon in his sophomore season, the Cavs took the leap from bottom feeder to playoff contender and didn’t look back. That is, until LeBron left the Cavs to take his talents to South Beach in 2011, where the Cavs spent their next 4 seasons wallowing in mediocrity, missing the playoffs 4 years in a row while LeBron made the Finals 4 years in a row, winning his first two championships in the process. Then in 2014, when LeBron made his triumphant return back home, the Cavaliers have made three consecutive Finals appearances, including coming back from a 3–1 deficit against the 73–9 Golden State Warriors. Along this whole journey, LeBron has been elite, the best player in the league quickly approaching the best player of all time status. So what makes this year’s LeBron the best we’ve ever seen?
With all the absurd stat lines LeBron has put up over the course of his 14 year career, the regular season line he put up this year, 26.4/8.6/8.7, ranks among one of his best, if not the best. His 8.6 rebounds per game and 8.7 assists per game are both the highest he’s ever posted. His 26.4 points per game is on 55% shooting is arguably his most efficient scoring season ever. When the postseason came around, however, LeBron flipped the switch. He’s morphed into a world beating basketball machine, putting up his best postseason stat line ever, at 32.5/8.0/7.0/1.4/2.2, on 57% shooting from the floor and 42% from three. At age 32, LeBron is as unstoppable as he’s ever been. In these following games, one from each series, LeBron’s otherworldly dominance was on display:
Round 1 vs Pacers — 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal
Game 2 vs Raptors — 39 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals
Game 1 vs Celtics — 38 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals
In this first game, we’ll start off with something simple and light, a revamped jumper. This isn’t 2005, if you leave LeBron wide open nowadays, it’s nylon.
LeBron’s unstoppable drives to the rim and uncanny vision and passing ability are a deadly duo, as here when he drives, he demands the attention of three Pacers, leaving the pass to Kevin Love wide open. LeBron does a nifty job altering the release point of his pass to make sure no one deflects it, Kevin Love easily knocks home the three.
Paul George struggles to get around the screen to switch on LeBron James, and LeBron makes him pay. LeBron goes around the screen, stops, and pulls up well behind the three point line and swishes it with ease. At the start of the decade, LeBron would’ve clanked this off of the front of the rim. Staggering progress on his three point stroke.
One common denominator in LeBron James’ career is that he’s an unstoppable force when driving to the rack. LeBron handles the ball up the floor and recognizes that he has a severe mismatch with Monta Ellis guarding him. From there, LeBron uses a simple crossover and explodes to the rim and absorbed contact for the and-1 layup. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
LeBron catches Paul George a little over zealous on the back door cut, so he abruptly pulls back into the corner and smacks a 3 right in PG13’s eye.
Because of the sheer multitude of ways LeBron can attack you, he’s one of the most dangerous ISO scorers in the game today. Here, Bron sizes George up, drives, then hits PG with a lethal half spin to open up an opportunity to get his shot off. But before he puts his shot up, James pump fakes to get George in the air, and successfully hits the jumper through contact for an and-1. Masterful.
Myles Turner was the trailer, but little did he know noted come from behind block artist LeBron James was right on his tail, and it came back to haunt him, as LeBron easily swipes his shot away.
LeBron’s vision and passing ability comes into play again. LeBron pulverizes Thaddeus Young on the spin move, but instead of taking the shot, LeBron zips a brilliant pass to a wide open JR Smith on the other side of the floor. Easy 3 points.
LeBron doesn’t even have to be actively barreling to the rim to command the attention of the defense, as Myles Turner (Kevin Love’s defender) is paying Kevin Love no mind, instead worrying about LeBron coming down the lane. LeBron notices it (he always does) and gives Kevin Love the perfect pass for three.
I feel like in every last one of these type of articles, there is always one repeating theme. In this one? LeBron sucks in the defense with his mere presence, LeBron finds wide open teammate, wide open teammate hits the 3. It’s like clockwork.
There’s no sucking in here, this is just an amazing pass. Normal players don’t spot this opening, and normal players definitely don’t throw perfect cross court passes. Luckily for the Cavs, LeBron James isn’t normal. He finds Kevin Love wide open in the corner on the other side of the court, and LeBron places a brilliant pass to Kevin Love for 3. This is why the Cavaliers are one of the best three point shooting teams in the association.
LeBron does a good job staying active after giving up the ball, dashing into the corner, putting himself in perfect scoring position. JR gives the ball back to LeBron and LeBron knocks down yet another three.
Oh wee. There’s nothing to analyze here, just watch in awe. What a pass.
LeBron probably should’ve taken the wide open three, but no worries. He storms to the rack, blowing by Lance Stephenson despite him already being in the paint, and coming up with a crafty finish to avoid the block. It’s easy when you’re king.
Stop. Leaving. Your. Man. Open. When. LeBron. James. Has. The. Basketball. LeBron does a great job not tipping off Lance Stephenson that he noticed him slacking by never looking at Deron Williams, instead delivering a beautiful no look pass that resulted in yet another three.
I hereby present to you, LeBron James, elite 3 point marksman. This is the second time he pulled up from way downtown, well behind the 3 point line, and it’s the second time he hit nothing but net. Line em up, knock em down.
Ok sir. Do whatever you want. The world is yours.
There aren’t many people on planet Earth capable of guarding LeBron James. The least capable of those people are athletically inferior big men, as Thaddeus Young found out here. LeBron didn’t even have to put any type of move on Young, he just blew by him and finished at the rim with ease.
Actually, I lied. Athletically inferior big men aren’t the least capable of guarding LeBron, the air is least capable of guarding LeBron. That’s my funny way of saying DO NOT CONFUSE SWITCHES/SWITCH LATE AGAINST LEBRON JAMES. It only ends one way.
All the passing LeBron does over the course of a game manifests into this. LeBron fakes a pass to Korver in the corner and Monta Ellis scrambles to try to take away the passing lane. Well, either that or Monta Ellis desperately didn’t want to get viciously put through the rim by LeBron James.
Ice cold, baby, he’s ice cold. LeBron turns around, uses a jab step for a little separation, and just nails a dagger right in Thaddeus Young’s face. Big time three that sealed the Cavs’ lead and comeback, the largest comeback (25 point deficit at halftime) in NBA history.
At the start of the second game, LeBron James, the block from behind artist, strikes again. Patrick Patterson blows by Kevin Love but LeBron is right there for help, denying the layup right as Patterson starts going into the motion. Effortlessly amazing help defense from LeBron.
Again, great help defense by LeBron James. Tristan Thompson helped Kyrie Irving on Kyle Lowry far too much, and Lowry notices it so he attempts to throw an entry pass to Valanciunas, but LeBron comes from behind and jumps the passing lane. James goes coast to coast where he is fouled at the rim, great basketball.
You’re probably wondering where in the world LeBron James is in the gif. No worries, he’ll be on your screen any second now. LeBron relentlessly crashed the glass here, making sure the Cavaliers didn’t leave that possession without a bucket.
The camera man does a shoddy job here so I have no clue why the Cavs and Raptors decided to play 3 on 3 basketball all of a sudden, but when LeBron sees one on one in the paint, he smells blood. LeBron puts PJ Tucker in the spin cycle with a clean spin move and an easy finish at the rim. Unstoppable once he gets going.
This is the most disrespectful play I’ve ever seen. Ever. Who does this?? This is how I knew LeBron is more on top of his game now than ever. LeBron spun the ball on his hand like he was shooting a freaking free throw, not once, BUT TWICE, and Serge Ibaka did nothing about it. Then, LeBron just shoots the 3 right over him, and of course, makes it. Nothing but net.
Then on the very next possession, he goes and does this. Over Ibaka. Again! The evolution of LeBron James’ three point shot, to the point where he can just pull up from anywhere, any time he wants, makes him the most unstoppable player on the planet. Or should I say, furthers him into the realm of unstoppable, as Bron was already the most unstoppable player on the planet before he developed a lethal jump shot.
Ladies and gentlemen, please prepare for takeoff.
Not only has LeBron developed a lethal 3 point jumper in the playoffs, but his trigger finger isn’t shy either. He’s just taking and making threes whenever he pleases.
The fact that DeMarre Carroll thought that he could ISO LeBron James and it was going to end well for him is honestly laughable. I respect his bravery, but there was absolutely no chance for him from the start. He tries to get his layup back on the glass, but LeBron easily swats his shot. Don’t try the King.
Starting off game 3 with a great dime from LeBron James. JR Smith curled around the screen and James greeted with a perfect lead pass that resulted in a wide open layup.
Good lord, look at this pass. Just effortlessly ripping a perfect bounce pass to Kevin Love, and Kevin Love just up and did the rest. Is there a better passer in the league than this guy? Not in terms of facilitating, but in terms of pure fancy quality of passes. He’s one of the best, if not the best.
LeBron uses a hesitation move very effectively on Jae Crowder, which freezes him and opens up the opportunity to blow by him. From there, LeBron James pulls an acrobatic layup, finessing his way through both Crowder and Amir Johnson, and finishing a layup. A brilliant touch from King James.
Once again, LeBron James goes back to more of his original game of getting to the rim and finishing strong. Jae Crowder is adamant on taking away the baseline from LeBron, so he happily obliges and goes left and finishes a tough left handed layup over Crowder.
LeBron wasted no time taking Horford to the hole once he received the pass, turning and barreling down the left lane. From there, Bron effortlessly glides above Kelly Olynyk and Al Horford for an easy layup. I feel like I’ve been saying easy, or synonyms of easy a lot this article. Interesting.
I wonder what made LeBron James change his philosophy of attack vs the Celtics. He went from a perimeter based attack vs Indiana and Toronto to pounding the paint vs Boston. I’m guessing it’s because no one on Boston is big or physical enough to handle LeBron attacking the rim. Anyways, LeBron took Al Horford to the rim again, bulldozing him all the way into the restricted area (the half circle in the painted area) and finished a smooth left handed lay-in.
Remember what I said about athletically inferior big men and LeBron? Kelly Olynyk is a severely athletically inferior big man and LeBron ISO’d him into oblivion. He literally dribbled the ball to the sideline to put emphasis on the fact that he wanted the ISO on Olynyk. That’s probably the 2nd most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen. Then LeBron powered right by Olynyk and finished through traffic with ease. Way too easy.
Another really good dime from LeBron here. One thing he really excels at doing is delivering perfect passes from odd delivery points. This is the 2nd example of this in the article, giving a great pass from a sideways delivery point.
The Celtics had bigger defenders on LeBron before, but he simply blew by them every time. So, Brad Stevens opted to put smaller guys on him. But he had to have seen this coming. Back to back possessions, LeBron simply backed Marcus Smart down, using his far superior height and weight advantage to get to his spot, and hit turnaround jumpers. Bully ball buckets.
This is actually a well executed switch. Does it matter? It sure doesn’t. After going around the screen and seeing Al Horford as the only one in his way, LeBron simply turned on the jets and blasted his way by Al Horford and finished the layup in between two defenders. How are you supposed to stop this? Quick answer: You’re not.
With the shot clock running down, the Celtics closed out heavy on the shot by LeBron, assuming he was gonna force up a shot because of the shot clock, but LeBron is way too smart for that. Three people crashed on him, leaving Tristan Thompson wide open, and LeBron hits him with an amazing bounce pass for the slam.
LeBron usually isn’t this selfish on fast breaks, but he was feeling himself this game. LeBron fries Jae Crowder with a crossover then he pulled out an extra fancy layup, reserved exclusively to provide ultimate disrespect to opponents whom his team is running out of the gym. If the glove fits, wear it Boston.
I’m not sure how LeBron made this pass. At no point did he ever look in Kevin Love’s direction, yet once he gets the ball he just jumps and zips a perfect pass into KLove’s bread basket, and Love just knocks down an easy three. Unreal vision and passing.
Sorry IT, you never stood a chance here. LeBron spins past Thomas effortlessly, then goes up with his right and abruptly switches to his left, and finishes through the foul by rookie Jaylen Brown. Slight and-1 for King James.
Valiant effort Gerald Green. You’re just too small. LeBron backs him into the paint then hits a beautiful fadeaway jumper.
On this last clip, LeBron takes mercy on Gerald Green’s soul, opting not to take Gerald Green down low and play bully ball, instead banging a 3 right in his face. That counts as mercy right?
If the Cavaliers want to knock off the ridiculously loaded Warriors squad that hasn’t lost all postseason, they need LeBron James to be the absolute superhuman he has been all playoffs long.