Lebron one of NBA’s greatest scorers, somehow couldn’t close games with scoring

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Lebron James is again being criticized these days for his Lakers being blown out by the Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference first round playoffs.

He didn’t do his cause any good as he failed to sprint back on defense and left the court with still a good five minutes of playing time left in the game although the result has already been decided by then.

Many are again pointing to the James’ lack of leadership, clutchness and ability to remain in the fight.

This is the knock on The King: his being “passive” on putting the ball in the basket himself too often. He often passes up scoring opportunities to let his teammates do the clutch shot trick because he is supposedly “making the right basketball play”.

Truth is, I have James one of my top five well-rounded scorers of all-time. He can score in a variety of ways. And like others who point this out, I also wonder why he seemed to refuse to take over the scoring in a game when his team badly needs buckets.

The third quarter of Game 6 showed how unstoppable he is when he is committed going to the basket. He scored eight points driving in the paint inside seven minutes left to help the Lakers cut a 21 point halftime deficit to just 13 at the quarter’s end.

True, he was visibly tired at this point but he again was absent when someone is needed to carry the scoring cudgels or create scoring opportunities when many of the Lakers are badly missing their shots.

Ironically, it was Chris Paul who showed the way to use scoring to shut a hostile crowd and close out a series on the road this night.

As the Lakers cut the lead further to 10 with eight minutes left, Paul drained two jumpshots and found Cameron Johnson for a trey to restore a 17-point lead that practically sealed the game for them.

We seldom see this from Lebron, especially in big games. He has to have another superstar on his side to get it done. We have seen how he fails to finish the job when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love got injured in Cleveland. The same thing happens this year when Anthony Davis got injured.

He is the ultimate all-around guy who is capable of scoring at will in the paint if he so wishes. Somehow, that scoring capability couldn’t be consistently displayed when taking over a game to close it out. He prefers others to take on that role. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s just the way he is wired. He has four titles when paired other superstars on the floor. He has none when his team has only him to carry majority of the load.

How would you rate Lebron against other versatile scorers? I would probably put him fifth in my reliable scorers under duress list as these contemporaries will usually carry their teams with scoring bunches and take over a game by making clutch baskets.

My top four are are just simply more willing than James to take over the scoring when their team needs baskets;

Michael Jordan

Key stats: 30.1 PPG, 50.1% from 2-point range, 32.7% from 3-point land, 83.5% from the foul line and 118 offensive rating (an estimate of points produced by an individual for every 100 possessions)

Air Jordan dunks, can post up, was a good free throw shooter. He developed a decent three point shot later in his career. Defenses could not stop him even if they knew he was getting the ball and attempts to score. The Detroit Pistons had to make up what they call ‘The Jordan Rules’ just to slow him down.

He wants the ball at crucial times in the game and nobody was better at putting the ball in the hole when needed. He made defenses and opposing fans shiver whenever he asks for the ball. If he is given the ball and isolated, he will get it done.

Larry Bird

Key stats: 24.3 PPG, 50.9% from 2-point range, 37.6% from 3-point land, 88.6% from the foul line, and 115 offensive rating.

Another guy who loves to demand the ball at crucial times and made teams and opposing fans leave playing venues in tears when his work is done.

The “Hick from French Lick” got points on virtually every part of the floor: in the post, from the perimeter, or way beyond. He was a great finisher as well.

If you include the points his teammates made because of his ability to create shots for them in the crucial minutes, he would be way, way up on this list, along with James.

He was the first who consistently use of the three pointer as a dagger in the dying seconds.

The only thing missing in his offensive arsenal is lack of athleticism resulting to less highlights above the rim.

He’s another who would lit the scoreboard late in the game, either by himself or create the opportunity for his teammates whenever his team needs them.

Kobe Bryant

Key stats: 25.0 PPG, 47.9% from 2-point range, 32.9% from 3-point land, 83.7% from the foul line, and 110 offensive rating.

The ultimate Jordan clone. The Black Mamba connected on several kinds of shots, probably even more than Jordan himself. He was also very creative given the difficult shots he sank at crunch time.

He can post, is a terrific finisher, has a deadly jumpshot, has a decent three point shooter and very athletic. His using of Jordan as a model in developing his career did very, very well justice to Jordan’s achievements, especially that as a scorer.

Kevin Durant

How could not we reminisce his getting the ball in critical moments and come up with crucial baskets anywhere in the floor during the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder runs in the playoffs. He is again doing it for Brooklyn this year.

The only doubt we won’t get a true answer for it is can he post up bigger, heavier opponents in a situation where going to the paint is the primary option and the illegal defense is applied?

We could say he is today’s Larry Bird without the post up but with the athleticism.

Lebron James

“The King” is the best well-rounded scorer of all-time. He “could” also get points almost everywhere like Bird and Durant only with lesser accuracy from three and on the line.

He could have more championships if he was wired similar to Jordan, Bird, or Bryant. He should retain his being the best jack-of-all-trades player and he doesn’t need to score all game long. He just has to take over when it matters most.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Key stats: 21.8 PPG, 51.2% from the field, 71.2% from the foul line, and 108 offensive rating.  

The sixth ranked on this list, “The Dream” is undoubtedly the best versatile bigman scorer ever, probably the greatest post-scorer of all time with his guard-like moves and great footwork. And while other Rocket like Robert Horry had provided key baskets in dying seconds during their championship run, Olajuwon had his share of those moments.

He has a decent the mid-range jumper  and is pretty decent at the free throw line for a center. His only weakness was a total lack of a three point shot, although that wasn’t really required from centers during his heyday.

By:  Armando M. Bolislis

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