LeBron James is the NBA’s Best Except at the End of Games
For anyone who doubts LeBron’s status as the “best player in the world” it has to be assumed that they would believe Kevin Durant deserves that title since he was the only player to legitimately challenge LeBron for the MVP award this season. Now if the title being discussed were “best scorer” then Durant would win. He has led the NBA in scoring the past three seasons.
But when it comes down to being an “all-around player”, Durant does not have the strength and power that make LeBron James an indestructible force on both offense and defense. Durant can’t finish at the rim like LeBron and he can’t defend like LeBron. It’s too bad the statistic for most “And 1” plays isn’t widely available but it is hard to believe that anyone has converted more 3-point plays from making a basket while being fouled than LeBron. But that comes secondary to LeBron’s ability to shutdown any player who poses an offensive threat.
LeBron has been on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team from 2009-11. That fact doesn’t show just how talented he is. This should help:
In April 2012, Carmelo Anthony was on a tear. He might have been the hottest player in the league shooting 46 percent from behind the three-point line and averaging 29.8 points a game over the month. Yet, when the series against the Miami Heat began, Melo suddenly cooled off. Over the first three games of the series, he shot 34 percent from the field.
ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst points out in his article that for the majority of Melo’s minutes, either LeBron or Shane Battier, who is also known as a defensive stopper, were guarding him. When Battier was given the task of slowing Melo down, he was able to hold him to 20/38 (53 percent). When LeBron was given the task of guarding the former Syracuse superstar, Melo shot 12/41 (29 percent).
Miami might be celebrating a sweep if Erik Spoelstra hadn’t decided to put LeBron on Tyson Chandler in the fourth quarter of Game 4 leaving Battier on Melo who ended up with 41 points, 12 of them coming in the final quarter. In the first three games LeBron held Melo to an average of seven points in the fourth quarter. The Knicks only won Game 4 by two points. There is no such thing as certainty in sports, but according to that math this series would have been over if LeBron had been guarding Melo instead of the Knicks’ center.