Damian Lillard: LeBron James knew all our offensive plays
LeBron James’ physical abilities are easy to see. The guy is bigger, faster and stronger than his competition. He’s a freak. Everyone knows that. But in addition to his physical tools, LeBron is also one of the smartest players in the game.
The Miami Heat star is frequently lauded for having a high “basketball IQ.” James is also one of the hardest workers in the game, and one of the most studious. Those parts of his game, though, are not as easy to see.
To illustrate James’ intelligence on the court, we’ll share some commentary from NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
Our friend Nate Jones, who works for Goodwin Sports Management, which represents Lillard, spent some time with the Portland Trailblazers up-and-comer last week. According to Jones, Lillard said what impressed him most about playing against LeBron during the season was how prepared the MVP was.
According to Jones, Lillard said it was obvious James studied film. Lillard told Jones that LeBron would assist his Heat teammates by calling out all the Blazers’ offensive plays during their games. Lillard apparently said that James knew all of Portland’s offensive tendencies.
Despite James’ knowledge of their plays, Portland actually beat Miami 92-90 in their first meeting, but lost 117-104 on the road in their second.
Like Jones says, this shows us that it’s not all about having physical gifts. James is also a true student of the game, and that is a big part of what makes him so great. Many people sit on their physical tools and coast because they feel they can get by on their talents. James has all the talent, and then he puts in all the work to make himself and his teammates even better.
These are the same stories you frequently hear about Kevin Garnett. KG was Defensive Player of the Year in 2007-2008, and opponents always talk about him calling out the opponent’s offensive plays while his team is on defense. James is on that same level. That’s probably why he was upset over not winning Defensive Player of the Year this season.