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View Full Version : How many years was LeBron an All-League defender



Chronz
09-02-2015, 05:36 PM
The All-Time thread got me thinking about his stature defensively. Theres no doubt he was at one point a willing and capable defender, versatile to say the least BUT how long did that last? He was truly abysmal individually in these Finals but given his unparalleled offensive load and how his offense helped dictate the style that would best contain GS transition game, I would argue he was still an average defender in terms of impact. While thats up for debate, what isn't, is a peak Bron would have been a force on both ends.

Not quite sure when that ended tho I figure it was around his final year in Miami, possibly final 2.

I think we can all agree he was a **** defender as an 18 year old rookie. When did defense stop being a negative in Brons game, when did it become a positive and when(if ever), was he elite at it.

FraziersKnicks
09-02-2015, 06:13 PM
I'd say it started becoming a positive when he was around 22/23.

He was an ELITE wing defender from 2008-13. You don't get 5 consecutive top 10 DPOY voting finishes (2nd, 4th, 9th, 4th, 2nd) by chance. All of his 5 1st team All-NBA selections were certainly justified and for that 5 year stretch he was one of maybe 3 guys in the league you could put on any player 1-4 and he could shut them down. That level of defensive versatility made him elite.

His last year in Miami he started to relax on that end of the ball and this season just gone he definitely took a lot of time off on the defensive end, but most high usage offensive guys do as they enter their 30's to conserve their bodies a bit better.

So in answer to your question:

Positive defender from about 2006-14
ELITE defender from 2008-13

mngopher35
09-02-2015, 07:44 PM
I'd say it started becoming a positive when he was around 22/23.

He was an ELITE wing defender from 2008-13. You don't get 5 consecutive top 10 DPOY voting finishes (2nd, 4th, 9th, 4th, 2nd) by chance. All of his 5 1st team All-NBA selections were certainly justified and for that 5 year stretch he was one of maybe 3 guys in the league you could put on any player 1-4 and he could shut them down. That level of defensive versatility made him elite.

His last year in Miami he started to relax on that end of the ball and this season just gone he definitely took a lot of time off on the defensive end, but most high usage offensive guys do as they enter their 30's to conserve their bodies a bit better.

So in answer to your question:

Positive defender from about 2006-14
ELITE defender from 2008-13

I think the timelines you have are about right. Might start it in 07 and 09 instead but that is around when I think it happened too.

flea
09-02-2015, 08:28 PM
Elite I'd say only in Miami, though not because he got markedly better. He was very good in Mike Brown's system but was a smaller part considering they had Big Z (mobile and long shotblocker) and AV (mobile and long hustle defender). Most good D's are built inside out, but in Miami they built the D around Lebron and Bosh's athleticism. Sort of a hybrid of popular box-and-one type stuff that many teams run these days and what the Bulls did to utilize their athleticism. Constantly attacking and looking for turnovers, then conserving energy (to a degree) in the halfcourt offense.

Fun D to watch when Battier was still in form, with good role players like Haslem and Chalmers to round out the team. I always considered them a defense-first team even though they had the best offensive player in the game in a system tailor-made for his abilities. Yes it would have been nice is Wade was a better shooter, but they were annually among the top 5-7 on both ends of the court largely because of their top-end talent.

Lebron wasn't great last playoffs, but his team played great D and it was partly because of his impact still. I sympathize with what Blatt was trying to do once Irving went down before the Finals. I think he could have played Mozgov more, but the offense was definitely better with more shooters and as the series went on they were losing on offense. Lebron can still do his off-forward role that many star forwards play, hunting around for turnovers and boards. Cavs just don't play the same kind of D the Heat did.

Raps18-19 Champ
09-02-2015, 09:30 PM
He should have won DPOY that 1 year.

Sadds The Gr8
09-03-2015, 12:27 AM
All league? Like his last year in Cleveland to his last year in Miami...so 09-13?

Quinnsanity
09-03-2015, 01:35 AM
I'd say it started becoming a positive when he was around 22/23.

He was an ELITE wing defender from 2008-13. You don't get 5 consecutive top 10 DPOY voting finishes (2nd, 4th, 9th, 4th, 2nd) by chance. All of his 5 1st team All-NBA selections were certainly justified and for that 5 year stretch he was one of maybe 3 guys in the league you could put on any player 1-4 and he could shut them down. That level of defensive versatility made him elite.

His last year in Miami he started to relax on that end of the ball and this season just gone he definitely took a lot of time off on the defensive end, but most high usage offensive guys do as they enter their 30's to conserve their bodies a bit better.

So in answer to your question:

Positive defender from about 2006-14
ELITE defender from 2008-13

This feels about right, with the caveat that 2010-12 LeBron was arguably the greatest defensive wing of all time. What he and Wade were able to do as a trapping duo in that first year, and then what LeBron did as a rover combined with guarding the opponent's best scoring wing, it was just ridiculous. That stretch of LeBron's first two or three years in Miami, I'd put it up there with Pippen and Sidney Moncrief at their peaks. Just absurd.

naps
09-03-2015, 03:09 PM
07-14. His first three years in Miami he was arguably as good as any wing defender in league history. It's a shame he didn't receive a DPOY. His greatest asset as a defender was his versatility which allowed him to perfectly contain 1 through 4.

Clippersfan86
09-03-2015, 03:54 PM
08-13 sounds fair to me. I think people underrate defensive versatility/man defense and overrate rim defense TBH.

flea
09-03-2015, 04:00 PM
08-13 sounds fair to me. I think people underrate defensive versatility/man defense and overrate rim defense TBH.

It's not just that rim protection is more valuable than versatile wing defense (but it is), it's that rim protectors also tend to contribute on the defensive glass most or 2nd most on their teams. Big man defense will always be the most valuable because of how many plays they can affect compared to their wing counterparts. Even in schemes meant to generate turnovers you won't get anywhere if teams shoot a league best rate at the rim against you and you can't win on the defensive glass.

You should know, you watched the Clips interior defense gut their playoff chances last year despite their 2 guards playing excellent defense most of the series (Rockets best offensive player shot below 40% from field and had 5 TO per game).

Clippersfan86
09-03-2015, 04:27 PM
I really don't think you can generalize that. At least not in a way you can support with anything tangible. I'd take Gary Payton over Roy Ribbert on defense. You say that a wing guy can't affect as many plays and I don't necessarily agree. Teams are scared to pass around Payton/CP3 etc. Not to mention elite wing defenders can shut down 2-3 positions usually while elite defensive anchor bigs in the paint are usually limited to help nooks and defending other centers. Just because it killed the Clippers doesn't mean it will kill all teams.

Besides paint defense wasn't the issue, 3 point defense was. Up 19 WCF right there and they gave up like 9 threes made in the last quarter. That's when Smith hit 4, Brewer 3 and Prig even killed us.

Clippersfan86
09-03-2015, 04:28 PM
If you shut down the perimeter, guys don't get to the paint as easy and get past the 1st line of defense. It's like the lineman vs the safeties. If your defense is stopping them at the line every time, corner backs and safeties have a pretty easy job.

D-Leethal
09-03-2015, 04:36 PM
If you shut down the perimeter, guys don't get to the paint as easy and get past the 1st line of defense. It's like the lineman vs the safeties. If your defense is stopping them at the line every time, corner backs and safeties have a pretty easy job.

Except in today's NBA the rule changes plus current style of play climate has made it damn near impossible to shut down the perimeter without big man help. Bigs are way more important in today's NBA defensive schemes. All it takes is a series of screens to shake a lights out defender - there is no 1:1 defense against a great screen and without hand checking there is no 1:1 defense against a Harden, Westbrook, Wall type dribble drive threat. It takes two to tango and the big man is the one who ices a screen/roll attack on the perimeter, cuts off lanes around the box and gives the last line of defense at the rim.

Clippersfan86
09-03-2015, 04:42 PM
Except in today's NBA the rule changes plus current style of play climate has made it damn near impossible to shut down the perimeter without big man help. Bigs are way more important in today's NBA defensive schemes. All it takes is a series of screens to shake a lights out defender - there is no 1:1 defense against a great screen and without hand checking there is no 1:1 defense against a Harden, Westbrook, Wall type dribble drive threat. It takes two to tango and the big man is the one who ices a screen/roll attack on the perimeter, cuts off lanes around the box and gives the last line of defense at the rim.

I think its, the opposite. With the more perimeter based game and higher 3 point volume style perimeter defense is more important now, with rim defense being more important in previous decades. Now guys like Draymond Green/Iggy+Lebron/Wade anchoring championship defenses without an elite rim protector. When Bogut sat for Green GS was more versatile on defense and capable of guarding the wing, despite Bogut being one of the best anchors in the NBA.

Clippersfan86
09-03-2015, 04:44 PM
Also most defenders now lack fundamentals on getting through, under or over screens. Thats not something that you can't overcome. Problem is most guys don't seem to focus much on it. CP3 and Bledsoe are two PG's great at being aware of screens and not getting killed on them hardly ever. Payton was the same.

D-Leethal
09-03-2015, 04:49 PM
Bron to me can still defend at an elite level when he doesn't have quite the workload he has in the Finals and he is locked in and engaged. I think he has admired what the Spurs have pioneered as a way of prolonging your career and saving yourself for the home run stretch of the season. AKA coasting. Give him a tough assignment that doesn't call for a ton of screen maneuvering or deep closeout contests and he is as good as anyone 1:1 on D.

Tony_Starks
09-03-2015, 06:08 PM
His stretch with Miami's superteam he was legit all NBA. Him and D Wade swarming the lanes with Bosh being able to switch on all the picks was a great thing to watch. That team could go on lockdown mode in a matter of minutes.

His start with Cleveland he went from average to pretty good defender,and this latest stint "back home" he wasn't even trying the majority of the time. He seemed disinterested with D and on chill mode as he said.

ewing
09-03-2015, 10:10 PM
07-14. His first three years in Miami he was arguably as good as any wing defender in league history. It's a shame he didn't receive a DPOY. His greatest asset as a defender was his versatility which allowed him to perfectly contain 1 through 4.

what? Bron was a very good wing defender and that with his versatility to be an intimidating helper, space eater in the paint, even rim protector made him extremely elite defender for a period but i don't he was ever in the discussion of best wing defender ever.

tredigs
09-03-2015, 10:40 PM
I'd say ~'07-'12. Before that he felt too often just lost defensively, and after that too often lazy/apathetic. I miss the days of the chase-down blocks, those were great.

Hawkeye15
09-03-2015, 10:45 PM
bout a 6 year timeline. Started in 07-08', and lasted into his 2nd year in Miami.

FlashBolt
09-03-2015, 11:43 PM
08-14 sounds about right. Might not put 14 either; I think he gave up on defense a little bit after he didn't win DPOY (Skip Bayless said he should have won that, too). Certainly not last season... that was bad.

mrblisterdundee
09-04-2015, 01:30 AM
The All-Time thread got me thinking about his stature defensively. Theres no doubt he was at one point a willing and capable defender, versatile to say the least BUT how long did that last? He was truly abysmal individually in these Finals but given his unparalleled offensive load and how his offense helped dictate the style that would best contain GS transition game, I would argue he was still an average defender in terms of impact. While thats up for debate, what isn't, is a peak Bron would have been a force on both ends.

Not quite sure when that ended tho I figure it was around his final year in Miami, possibly final 2.

I think we can all agree he was a **** defender as an 18 year old rookie. When did defense stop being a negative in Brons game, when did it become a positive and when(if ever), was he elite at it.

LeBron James made the All-NBA first team 2008 through 2013, five times. He made the second team in the 2013-14 season. So he's been an all-league defender six times.

FlashBolt
09-04-2015, 06:38 PM
LeBron James made the All-NBA first team 2008 through 2013, five times. He made the second team in the 2013-14 season. So he's been an all-league defender six times.

I think he means whether or not he truly was an all-league defender. Plenty of players have gotten in just based of reputation. Kobe is a prime example.

slashsnake
09-04-2015, 07:23 PM
08-14 sounds about right. Might not put 14 either; I think he gave up on defense a little bit after he didn't win DPOY (Skip Bayless said he should have won that, too). Certainly not last season... that was bad.

It was until the playoffs.. I think there that transition they made was pretty epic and really have to call Lebron the guy there.

Warriors 100.7 PPG 50% EFG vs. Cavs. 110 and 54% in reg season.
Hawks 92.5 PPG, 46% EFG vs. Cavs. 102.5 and 53% in reg season.
Bulls 91.2 and 44%. vs. 101 and 49% in reg season.
Celtics 91.8 and 45% vs. 101.4 and 49% in reg season.

Pretty consistently holding teams to 5% lower shooting and 10 PPG less.

They turned into a better defensive team as the year continued and became a great playoff D in the post-season, and I think a lot of that was Lebron going all out on both sides of the floor again. He did grade out in Drating as their best defensive player in every series but the Celtics one (barely 2nd to Mozzy).

Saw it in the finals, he spent most of his time covering Green and Barnes, and they really struggled getting shots even when he was almost the entire offense as well.

I think his time of just beasting on Rose or Rondo one series before playing PF the next is probably passing. I don't see that happening again, but that's something you almost never saw before.

flea
09-04-2015, 07:29 PM
Other than weak-side boards, Lebron had comparably very little to do with how good the Cavs D was in the playoffs. D rating is useless for wings (and almost useless for bigs). How come this is still a thing? He had low d ratings because he was the leading rebounder for his team.

He floated around, generally playing undisciplined help, and routinely missed rotations in the Bulls series that I recall. He was average or better after that but I remember some poor performances that smacked of low effort-levels.

JasonJohnHorn
09-06-2015, 12:40 AM
I think this was a coaching issue. I will agree that his defense in the final season in Miami was not as impressive as the first three years, but I think part of that is the team effort being down.

This past year, I don't think the Cavs were coached well in terms of defense, so it became too much of a burden for James to pick up the slack. In Miami he could focus on who he was guarding and not worry about about who Bosh or Wade were covering. With Kyrie and Love, neither of whom are particularly strong defenders, and a coach who didn't seem to have a strong defensive set (and I may be wrong about that), Bron was forced to focus on where he could make the biggest impact. He still did a great job, but I remember watching games and LBJ having to point and shout where guys had to be on defense. When you have to watch the entire floor, and coach while playing, it becomes much more difficult to be an elite individual defender.


I would say his defensive impact was as valuable as ever this season, even if it was not as dominant. I would also say that the finals would not be a good sample size, given how much energy he had to put in the game, the number of shot he put up, the stifling defence he had to work through, the rebounding he was required to do, and the playmaking he had to handle. I mean, nobody has ever lead both teams in points, rebounds, and assists in the finals.


I say LBJ is as capable of being dominant defensively as he ever was and that with the right guys and coach around him, he can get back to doing that, but with the roster and coach as it is, he's spread to thin to showcase that.