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Sbank
11-02-2008, 12:09 PM
Free throws could ruin James' legacy
Free throws ... all of it might come down to free throws for LeBron James.

It might be what prevents the Cleveland Cavaliers star from attaining his dream NBA championship, which may in turn frustrate him enough to actually leave his home state for the bright lights and marketing capital of New York for the Knicks or the Nets.

You might even toss in an errant 3-pointer or two as part of that misery.

But coming from somebody who is a native of Cleveland and picked James as the preseason league MVP and who watches the Cavs all the time, the crack in the armor is coming from the free-throw line time and time again. And that, more than being a fan of the Yankees and Cowboys instead of the Indians and Browns, could turn the cheers to boos.

Sure, it was a little startling to see how the now lighter and more confident Paul Pierce was using and abusing him as the defending champion Boston Celtics were squeezing out a 90-85 victory over the Cavs on opening night following their ring ceremony. There are those who might contend that he should have gotten more help squeezing Pierce, but haven't we heard so much about James' commitment to lockdown defense to close the gap between himself and Kobe Bryant?

OK, it's one game and Pierce is a superstar scorer. That's worthy of a break.

That wasn't the problem and everybody who saw it knows it. James missed four of six free throws in the final 6:44 of the game, including twice splitting a pair in the final 11 seconds. Toss in a bad 3-point attempt and there you have it in a game that was tighter than the 5-point difference the final score indicated.

It happened time and again last season; particularly in his poor shooting from everywhere in the Celtics series and they still took the Celtics to seven games. If the Cavs and James are going to attain the success they keep approaching, he's going to not only have to be more selective on those 3-pointers, but somehow gain a comfort zone at the free-throw line.

And at the moment, it just isn't there.

James is a newer, bigger model of Bryant who similarly has been cast in that light compared to Michael Jordan but there is one big difference.

It isn't defense.

We're talking about shooting the rock. Suffice to say James doesn't compare to Bryant and Jordan in that regard. Something within the framework of his perimeter shot just isn't there. He has an amazing touch in and around the basket. His shot on the floor and more obviously from the free-throw line continues to be completely dependent on his freakish streaks of rhythm, otherwise he's horribly erratic and undependable.

He was 4-of-8 from the line in the opening loss and 8-for-12 in the 17-point win over Charlotte in the home opener on Thursday night. To be sure, he's averaging 22 points, 8.0 rebound and 7.5 assists numbers that are true to All-Star form. But he's also 0-for-6 from 3-point range and 60 percent from the free-throw line, and that won't do.

That has been his trend over the past two-plus seasons a premier scorer from the wing shooting a demonstrably sub-par .704 from the line, especially when he's constantly drawing fouls in the fourth quarter. He's also shooting .314 from 3-point range, which is also not what it needs to be.

Conversely, Bryant is a career free-throw shooter at a shade less than 84 percent, 34 percent from 3-point range and tends to be a lock from the line when it matters most. Jordan, meanwhile, notched .835 on free throws and .327 on 3-point attempts, and those numbers were adversely affected by his two retirements and subsequent comebacks. Nobody will question his response to crunch time.

So that's where we are at the moment with James. For all this scrutiny, he's an amazing talent who has surpassed expectations in a lot of ways, leading the Cavs to their first Eastern Conference title in history in 2007. He's already provided everyone countless breathtaking moments of individual moves or taking over games in the most unlikely fashion ... all before his 24th birthday coming in December.

The errant 3-point shots will come and go, which may become a little less frequent this season with the addition of smooth-shooting point guard Mo Williams, a healthy Daniel Gibson and hot-shooting Wally Szczerbiak at least until they likely trade him by mid-season.

Defenses will continue to trap James, deny him the ball and complain to officials that he's pushing off constantly, and if he really is 6-9, 260, well, there's not too much anybody can do about handling him physically. All of those aspects of the game will come and go. His ability to do so much with the ball scoring and passing including an inalienable trust in his teammates make him the closest thing to Oscar Robertson in terms of an all-around game with triple-double possibilities nightly. He will likely be a first-team All-NBA fixture, despite circumstances changing from game-to-game, month-to-month and year-to-year.

One thing that won't vary will be the free-throw line. It will remain 15 feet to the 10-foot basket. He will go to that line as frequently and perhaps even more so as any other player in the league during the fourth quarter. That extra 10 percent he needs to make is a point per game during the season and increases exponentially in value during the lower scoring playoffs.

He can't continue to go 2-for-6 down the stretch of the games, and he has to gain a sense of calm and consistency. James is a guy who wants to draw fouls going to the rim with the desired effect a 3-point play. We're not talking about a 7-footer the nature of Wilt Chamberlain or Shaquille O'Neal, centers whose games were in the post and were psyched out by those 15 feet.

James has to get over it his future with the Cavaliers and his legacy may depend on it.

Msn.foxspots.com (http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/8742264/Free-throws-could-ruin-James%27-legacy)
I think it's too early to really have a concern about LeBron three throws. I think he have his average up by the end of the season like usual. I don't think free throws will ruin his legacy.

CHief_0_o_Wahoo
11-02-2008, 03:05 PM
His free throw issue is annoying,but I think he is still young enough to grow out of it.

EdTheRevelator
11-03-2008, 01:01 AM
It's only a problem this season because we have a 3 game sample size to go off. I mean, he's never been Mark Price, but who is? He'll work on it and this will go away. I hope.

CHief_0_o_Wahoo
11-03-2008, 03:25 AM
It's only a problem this season because we have a 3 game sample size to go off. I mean, he's never been Mark Price, but who is? He'll work on it and this will go away. I hope.

Good point Ed, I think we need to not be so critical early on. We will work the kinks out, that's why we watch or at least one of the reasons. I like to see the growth of the team, and the players as individuals. It interests me.

Things that will change as the season goes on:

1. LeBron will show he did improve
2. Mo will show that he is the scorer we lack
3. our bench will become one of our strengths
4. Of course there is more. We will see later in the season.


Just continue to tune in!

y2koz7
11-03-2008, 11:14 AM
Will LeBron's free throw percentage alone ruin his legacy? No. Tim Duncan, one of the best power forwards, has shot only 68% from the line for his career. And yet, his free throw shooting is seldom called into question because he does so many other things right. (LeBron's career percentage is just under 73%)

Is LeBron's free throw shooting frustrating? Absolutely. But so is the free throw shooting for the rest of the Cavalier team. The organization needs to work on how it coaches free throw shooting, or simply force the players to put in the reps.

WickedBadMan
11-05-2008, 05:50 AM
I would say his 3-point shooting is more of a problem at this point. He takes way too many, could just hand the ball to the other team at the rate he makes them as well.

IndiansFan337
11-05-2008, 06:46 PM
I would say his 3-point shooting is more of a problem at this point. He takes way too many, could just hand the ball to the other team at the rate he makes them as well.

Well, his 3 pt % isn't quite that bad. But it surely could be a lot higher if he would take smarter shots, and stop fading away on nearly every 3 pt attempt. Good form on your shot is crucial. And he doesn't have that at all on 3 pointers. But now that we have surrounded him with 3-4 good 3 point shooters I think that he will begin taking less, especially when we go small with him at PF. When Boobie, Mo, West, Wally are on the floor LeBron will play at the elbow, on the block or slash & kick out to those shooters.

FT% is a problem for him, but he just needs to try & be more consistent. Hitting 13 out of 15 was a good start. Hopefully he can just keep having nights where he only misses 1-2. That would be productive, considering he will be in the top 2-3 in the NBA in FT attempts.

NBACavsFan69
11-06-2008, 05:44 PM
LeBron has ALOT to work on. And I mean ALOT, if he even wishes to become remembered as a top player when he retires. He relies too much on his great power to ram himself into the lane. He should increase his repertoire of shots. 63% from free throw and 0% from threes isn't going to cut it.

He has no post game whatsoever and his footwork is below average. If he just continues to play the way he's doing it right now, I wouldn't be surprised if he's out of the league at age 30.

dwiduck
11-07-2008, 12:38 AM
LeBron has ALOT to work on. And I mean ALOT, if he even wishes to become remembered as a top player when he retires. He relies too much on his great power to ram himself into the lane. He should increase his repertoire of shots. 63% from free throw and 0% from threes isn't going to cut it.

He has no post game whatsoever and his footwork is below average. If he just continues to play the way he's doing it right now, I wouldn't be surprised if he's out of the league at age 30.

That could be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard

Also after the last two game Lebron is now 78% from the line

IndiansFan337
11-13-2008, 12:51 PM
At this point, he's shooting a career high FT%.

His 3 point % has suffered, but I am actually glad that it has. Hopefully it discourages him from taking that fadeaway 3 point shot that he sometimes falls in love with. He realizes that we have at least four better 3 point options (Williams, West, Gibson, Wally) on this squad & hopefully that allows him to cut back on his low percentage attempts.