Michael Jordan And LeBron James Should Not Be Compared

Introduction

Throughout the past 15 years, the mainstream media has constantly compared LeBron James to Michael Jordan. For example, Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post stated that he “grew up watching Jordan and grew wise (I hope) watching James, I still think it’s easier, at this point, to laud Jordan as basketball’s invincible hero”. However, it is unfair to compare these two players when their style of play is/was vastly different.

Michael Jordan Vs LeBron James (Offense)

Over the course of 8 years, the Chicago Bulls successfully implemented Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. In the triangle offense, one of the perimeter players would bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another player posting up in the mid to low block. Once that happens, the person with the basketball would shoot a turn around jumper. Another example of the triangle offense is when one of the perimeter players would bring the ball up to the three-point line and passes it to another perimeter player. The second perimeter player will either dump the ball into the post or give it to a third perimeter player, and he will throw it into the post. After this occurs, the individual in possession of the ball would hold it for a couple of seconds to see if a teammate can successfully cut to the basket. The teammate who was supposed to cut to the basket usually came from one of the wings or corners. For instance, if the teammate came from the corner, the individual in possession of the ball would perform a backdoor pass. On the other hand, if the teammate came from the wing, the individual in possession of the ball would perform a drop pass. However, if the teammate weren’t able to successfully cut to the basket, the individual in possession of the ball would shoot the ball or kick it to the perimeter.

As a result of this system, Michael Jordan never had a defined role within the Chicago Bulls offense. Before his first retirement, Jordan alternated between the roles of a bystander, cutter, isolation and low post player. There were some possessions, where Michael received the ball on the wing or corner, and he would dump it into the post. Once that happens, Mike immediately cut to the basket in hopes of getting the ball back. If he were successful, Jordan would attempt a layup, dunk or shoot a short jumper. If he were unsuccessful, Michael Jordan would either fight thru the crowd to get in position to box out for the rebound, or he would go to the perimeter in hopes of getting the ball back. On the other hand, there were possessions where Mike would isolate the defender after the team got an offensive rebound or when the low post player passed the ball back to the perimeter. When this occurs, he will pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action. If the defender gave him a few feet of space, he would pull up to shoot the wide-open mid-range jumper. But, if the defender played him tight, he will attempt to drive towards the basket for a score, to draw a foul or attract a double team. However, when Mike returned from his first retirement, he became more of a post up player. For example, Jordan would jog to the mid to low block and post up to call for the basketball. Once this happened, Michael Jordan would usually attempt a turnaround or fadeaway jumper.

On the other hand, LeBron James has played in a completely different system to that of Michael Jordan. Throughout the past seven NBA seasons, teams who obtained the services of LeBron James have incorporated an offensive system; that is meant to showcase his ability to pass the ball and get to the basket. As a result, he usually walks the ball up until the three-point line and evaluates how the defenders are positioned. For instance, if a defender is playing off of a three-point shooter, he is supposed to pass the ball to the wide-open shooter. On the other hand, if all the defenders are staying close to their man, he is expected to evaluate the size of his defender. If the defender is smaller than him, he should post up in the mid to low block and back him down until he can to a spot where he can shoot a jumper. But if his defender is the same size as him, he should use his speed and strength to get around him to attack the basket. However, there will be some instances where the defense will collapse on him, and he should pass the ball to the perimeter for the wide open three. Furthermore, on occasion, the team will break out some different sets within their playbook to prevent from becoming a predictable offense. For example, the team may have LeBron act like he is going to post up at the free throw line and have him pass the ball to a teammate doing a backdoor cut to the basket.

Michael Jordan Vs LeBron James (Defense)

As a result of LeBron’s playmaking duties, he has neglected the defensive side of the floor over the past few years. This is because LeBron uses defensive possessions to catch his breath to have enough energy for the next offensive possession. For instance, James will take the weakest offensive player on the opposing team and stand near the painted area until a shot is taken. Once the shot is taken, he will move towards the rim to get the rebound and start the next offensive possession. On the other hand, Michael Jordan kept his defensive intensity because he didn’t have to be a playmaker on every possession. For example, he would crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, he would go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is unfair to compare Michael Jordan and LeBron James because they played in two different systems which fundamentally changed their approach to the game.

How To Remove The NBA One And Done Rule

Over the past week, there have been several reports stating that NBA commissioner Adam Sliver is currently looking at ways to amend or remove the one and done rule. According to ESPN, ” NBA commissioner Adam Silver and several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours… re-opening the door for 18-year-olds to play in the NBA”. However, the NBA has an opportunity to abolish the one and done rule while in the process elevating the status of the G-League.

The NBA should use the G-League similarly to how major league baseball uses its farm system. Major league baseball allows youth players to become professionals after graduating high school, but the majority of them are sent to developmental leagues until they’re ready. For instance, the Los Angeles Angels selected Mike Trout out of Millville Senior High School with the 25th pick in the 2009 draft. Once he signed with the organization, he spent the next two years playing in four separate developmental leagues Trout would only get promoted to a different league after he excelled in the current league for a substantial amount of time. For example, Mike played 39 games in the Arizona rookie league until he was promoted to Single A. During his time in the Arizona rookie league, Mike Trout had a batting average of 360 with seven home runs and 25 RBI’s.

Therefore the NBA should allow organizations to draft high school graduates with the premise that these players must spend at least a portion of their rookie year in the G-League. The requirement allows the organization to see how the player is progressing and what skills the player needs to improve. Furthermore, it will reduce the concern from the players union that veterans will be forced out of the league in favor of rookies. This is because a significant amount of NBA head coaches use training camp and preseason to evaluate lineups and how to use a first-year player. As a result, if rookies are forced to be in the G-League, some coaches will be afraid to promote them during the season because they won’t know how the player fits in the system.

However, the only issue with the NBA following the MLB player development model would be the pay scale for developmental players. According to USA Today, most minor league players “earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for a five-month season”. As a result, the NBA should tweak the pay scale and prorate the contract while in the G-League. According to Forbes, Markelle Fultz signed a contract for 33.7 million over the next four years which means he gets paid 8.4 million per year. If Markelle had to play in the G-League, his yearly salary would get slashed by 50 to 66 percent until he gets promoted. Once Markelle was promoted, the organization would pay him the rest of his annual salary as a bonus for signing the NBA contract or during the remainder of the season. Furthermore, a players salary during his tenure in the G-League should not count against the salary cap of the NBA team.

Dion Waiters Is The Heart And Soul Of The Miami Heat

Earlier this week, several reports were stating that Dion Waiters decided to re-sign with the Miami Heat. In fact, according to ESPN, ” Dion Waiters has agreed to terms on a four-year, $52 million deal to return to the Miami Heat”. Although people are lamenting that the team had to settle for Waiters after missing out on Gordon Hayward; one could argue that Waiters is the perfect complement to Goran Dragic.

Throughout last NBA season, the Miami Heat incorporated an offensive system centered around the pick and roll. For instance, Goran Dragic or Dion Waiters is supposed to bring the ball up to the three-point line and then a big man would set a screen. Once the pick was set Dragic or Waiters would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Dragic or Waiters would go over it and take the wide-open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Dragic or Waiters would go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not.

Unfortunately, there were many possessions where Goran Dragic would choose to become a spot up shooter instead of attacking the basket. For instance, he brings the ball up to the three-point shot and proceeds to pass the ball to Waiters; once that happens, he stays in the same spot or goes to one of the corners to wait for the ball to get back to him and shoot it possibly. On the other hand, there are some possessions where he shoots the ball before the big man even begins to set the screen.

Due to this, re-signing Dion Waiters was vital for the Miami Heat because he is willing and capable of going into attack mode when Dragic doesn’t want to. For instance, whenever Dion receives the ball, he will call for the screen. Once the pick was set Dragic or Waiters would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Dragic or Waiters would go over it and take the wide-open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Dragic or Waiters would go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not. However, on occasion, he will try to get around the defender without a screen by using his speed but if he can’t; Waiters will hop back and shoot a step back jumper.

In conclusion, Dion Waiters can be described as the heart and soul as well as the engine of the Miami Heat.