True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, December 29, 2011

LeBron, POST Lockout

Since we are on the topic of great players adding layers to their game to become even better, notice anything new about LeBron James lately?

33 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds through the Heat's 3-0 start?
No, that sounds about right.
No three point field goal attempts?
Demanding and scoring the ball in the post?

If I had to pick a moment from last year's NBA Finals that was symbolic of LeBron James realtive futility, it would have to be in game 6 when he had JJ Barea isolated in the post. Rather than calmly get the ball and elevate over the helpless defender, LeBron (6'8", 250 lbs) seemed out of his element and forced the issue on Barea (no way is he 6'0", 175 lbs) and ultimately drew an anti-climatic offensive foul.

Everyone knew the best player in the world didn't have a post game.
Still, the look of incredulity on my face at that moment must have been priceless.

Well, it seems as if the dog days are over.
After the Finals, LeBron spent "two weeks in his room, not talking to anyone."
He eventually resurfaced. And apparently he has put in major work.
It was reported over the summer that LeBron was working on his post game.
Some of the fruits of his labor were on display during summer league games.

But now, LeBron is already implementing his newly found post moves into real game situations - as his go-to move!

Check out this gem from opening day in Dallas:

1) Pin your defender behind you with you left hand. Give a target/call for the ball with your right hand.

2) Catch the ball, locate your defender and protect the ball with your body

3) Plant your left foot. Use it as a pivot to turn your right shoulder to face the basket.

4) As you pivot, keep the ball high so the defender can't swipe at it - like a "big man" should.

5) Fully turned, face up and assess what the defense is giving you. Keep the ball high.

6) At this point, Shawn Marion is playing LeBron for the drive. I mean, why wouldn't you?
But with the ball already above his head, LeBron is in a perfect position to go right up into his shot. In fact, by pivoting 360 degrees to face his defender, the last thing he does is actually step into his shot with his right foot. 

7) Ball high, face up, step in and elevate into your shot.

8) So seem-less, quick, and efficient. LeBron is off the ground before Marion has a hand up.

What I love about this move is how fantastically fundamental it is.
I mean seriously, here you have the most supreme basketball athlete in the world simply posting, pivoting, and shooting. It's enough to make Tim Duncan jealous.

Also, what I love about this is that it shows posting up doesn't always mean trying to play bully ball and mindlessly back your man down to the rim. It shows that LeBron understands he can use his size and strength to gain position closer to the basket where he can access his repertoire of skill, footwork, and athleticism to get a high percentage shot. 
It's that simple. But what's even more amazing is how unstoppable it is.

And far from an aberration, LeBron has already drawn from this well numerous times, from multiple locations on the floor, with an array of footwork moves.  It's almost as if he relishes the chance to use his post game now. It's kind of like the year we first saw him chase down defenders from half court to block them at the rim. At first it was a novel occurrence. Then it became expected. I wouldn't be surprised if the same holds true for him working out of the post.

After all, everyone knows the best player in the world now has a post game.
The look of incredulity on my face must be priceless.


  1. Good Post Jon. Like you mentioned this was one of his basic moves, I haven't watched enough of him this season and/or during summer league, but essentially he's still taking a jumper. With his strength/quickness/ability, I'd still prefer to see him not face up and work his way to the hoop. Then he'd really be unstoppable.

  2. Not to compare, but I don't think Jordan ever used his post game to get all the way to the basket. Instead, he used it to set up his fade-away jumper. And look at Dirk - posting mainly for his step back.

    These guys don't have to post like Shaq, Kareem, or Hakeem.

    The thing is, LeBron has mostly been either a three point shooter or a dunker - with not much in between. Now, he can post to get his mid-range jumper off. I think that is the key - it is extremely efficient and high percentage. But fear not, I wouldn't be surprised to see him add some rip-throughs or pump-fakes in the post to get to the rim.