LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world today. He succeeds directly to Dirk Nowitzki who himself succeed to half a dozen years of complete domination of the league by the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant.
Why is LeBron James the best today?
In my opinion, his 4 league MVP trophies are not in the equation. However, what is strictly in the equation is his game. LeBron James is the best player in professional basketball today because he succeeded in matching his freakish athleticism with skills and an advanced Basketball IQ. That is the reason why he the best.
LeBron James is smarter now, so for instance in the open floor if he does not possess the ball he would run down in the middle and plant his feet deep in the paint. Once he receives the ball while boxing out his defender all he does is lay it in and dunk it. That is a high percentage shot that he never used to take. Furthermore, it does not require him jumping over people or kissing the rim. All the contrary, all it demands is a deep understanding game that allows him to recognize the opportunity given by the defense and take the correct body position to finish the play with his skills. This is his basketball IQ matching his rarely seen ability to run the floor, namely athleticism.
LeBron James is the best because he drives every lane the defense gives him. This gets him dunks and or lay ups that punish defenses. By recognizing those lane driving opportunities LeBron makes his ability to collapse the defense easier and gets easy buckets which is extremely important in professional basketball. Further, in the open floor and in transition LeBron is unstoppable. His hands are active and the Heat run in transition he always spear head the effort with his Hall of Famer teammate Dwayne Flash Wade. These transition baskets are also easy buckets.
The points he accumulates doing these things allow him to become a threat early in games, and it forces defenses to focus on him. This is where LeBron takes his second role on as a point forward. While attracting double teams and or even when single covered, LeBron plays like a point guard and finds his teammates and gives them high quality shots. Because he requires he ball not to shoot 30 times but to make plays for his teammates, Lebron has continuously made his teammates better thus the comparison with Magic Johnson.
This unselfishness gets his role players involved offensively which has three positive effects. First, it gets the role players included instead of marginalized from the offense, and gets their offensive rhythm going. Second, getting role players involved offensively more often than not pushes role players to play even better defense and run the floor better, especially big men. And third, getting role players involved allows one team to have a multitude of players than can produce points and not rely solely on the star player’s abilities to score. All this provides for good team basketball.
Additionally, LeBron James has improved his 3 point shot and his free throw percentage. Today he shoots 38% from beyond the arc. This is 5 percentage points better than his last year in Cleveland and his first year in Miami. He is shooting a consistent career average 74 % from the free throw line which is a testament to his great dedication to his craft and to his work in the off season.
This is of course notwithstanding his post game and mid-range game which are better and his supreme ability to remain focus enough to finish plays even when fouled to get three point opportunities. We also have not mentioned that he collects 7 rebounds per night and distributes 6 to 7 assist per games which makes him the team leader in those respectable departments. If that was not enough, he shots 58% from floor which is primarily a result of him getting a great deal of easy buckets. Averaging 27 points per game he also leads his team in scoring. And on top of all that, he defends multiple positions. Because there is perhaps three centers in the NBA today with significant offensive skills in low post, DeMarcus Cousins, Pau Gasol and Al Jefferson, some observers have declared that LeBron can defend all five positions. In reality LeBron could not defend 7′ 2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and or 7′ 1 Shaquille O’Neal. He could defend Kwame Brown, perhaps, but not 7′ 1 Wilt Chamberlain.
Therefore, realistically LeBron James can defend point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and some power forwards, not all. Even though it parts from the fairytale told by most observers, this is still a significant accomplishment that few players have proven capable of doing.
One should mention his willingness to learn from Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon as one of the principal element of with confident and much improved post game. He improves every year. Every year he brings something new to the table. Every year LeBron James works hard to be in terrific shape and acquire a great stamina. That is the reason why, among things, he is a great professional.
His ability to dunk does not make him the best player on the planet because other good players in the league such as Josh Smith and Gerald Green can fly and perhaps kiss the rim as well. But they are no where near him in terms of their ability to play the game. His salary does not make him the best player. In fact, Joe Johnson is scheduled to make over 21 million $, more than Lebron’s 19 million $, while he is not even half the player LeBron is. What ultimately makes LeBron “King” James the best player in all professional basketball today is his new ability to match his monster athleticism with his skills and basketball IQ.