LeBron’s offensive game to change?


Despite being the most scrutinized player in the NBA (possibly sports), this summer has been relatively tame for Miami Heat’s LeBron James.

You know what happened, LeBron didn’t exactly show up like we were all expecting during the NBA Finals. Nevermind the fact that he destroyed Boston and Chicago on his way to the Finals. A lot was said immediately following the Finals about what LeBron needed to do to improve his offensive game since his jumper stopped working and his post game didn’t really work out that well in the Finals either.

LeBron then worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon for a few days (can that guy just open up a summer camp for the pros already?) and has more recently been back in Miami working out with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a few other guys. He also spent some time in Akron, Columbia, OH and Lexington, KY working out and he’s also competed in a couple of these Goodman League, Drew League, Team Melo, Team Philly exhibitions.

During one of his mailbags, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel fielded a question about LeBron’s on again, off again jump shot.

Q: LeBron’s jumper was awfully shaky in the Philly exhibition game Sunday night. Off shooting nights happen to everyone, though. That’s not what worried me. What worried me was the incredible lack of confidence he showed at times. Did you see how much he hesitated on some of those jumpers? I know he ended with quite an impressive stat line, but I guess I’m just surprised. — Jim.

A: Look, I wouldn’t read much into such a helter-skelter exhibition. But LeBron James’ lack of confidence in the jumper was undeniable, even as he continued to hoist them with the game on the line (sound familiar?). Look, anything that dissuades LeBron from settling for the jumper is not a bad thing. What I liked, a lot, was how he tried to show a bit of a post game. If Erik Spoelstra is every bit the brilliant basketball mind that most believe, then I would not be surprised to see a variety of new offensive packages for LeBron this coming season. The question, as always, is whether he accepts them, or whether he reverts to a player who insists on playing off the dribble at the top of the circle and then settling for jumpers. Considering he was playing all 48 minutes in a gym with no air conditioning, I’m not sure LeBron had his legs Sunday.

I think it’s true that LeBron lacks confidence in his outside shot, but I also don’t think that should be the focus of his off season workouts. As it turns out, aside from viciously dunking on fools, LeBron’s two best shooting spots from the floor were his mid range jumper and in the post. Ken Helin wrote in June that LeBron shot 54 percent in post up situations and scored 1.04 points per possession and hit close 45 percent of his shots from 10 feet all the way out to the arc, which is close to tops in the league.

His physical attributes would make a turnaround jumper from the post or a pull up jumper from 10-15 feet almost impossible to stop. Hero shots are nice LeBron, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t take them when you’re in the zone, but you can punish your opponents in some other, higher percentage ways.