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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Michael Jordan thinks he has found a flaw in LeBron James’ game

LeBron James is the reigning NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP and considered by many to be the top player in the league. He has dominated this month and became the first player in league history to score at least 30 points on over 60 percent shooting in six straight games. Though James is playing outstanding ball, Michael Jordan thinks he has found a flaw in the Heat star’s game.

ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote an excellent piece about Jordan ahead of the Hall of Famer’s 50th birthday on Sunday. The lengthy piece discusses MJ dealing with aging and harnessing his competitive drive. Jordan discusses how some of the current players would have fared when he played, and he said LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki would have done well. He also analyzed a part of James’ game while watching the Heat play the Jazz in Utah Jan. 14. According to Jordan, LeBron has a tendency to shoot jumpshots when forced left, and he drives to the hoop when he goes right.

“I study him,” he says.

When LeBron goes right, he usually drives; when he goes left, he usually shoots a jumper. It has to do with his mechanics and how he loads the ball for release. “So if I have to guard him,” Jordan says, “I’m gonna push him left so nine times out of 10, he’s gonna shoot a jump shot. If he goes right, he’s going to the hole and I can’t stop him. So I ain’t letting him go right.”

Business Insider shares visual evidence that seems to support MJ’s theory. This shot chart comes via NBA.com:

LeBron James shot chart

Based on that chart, James has taken 235 shots from the left side of the court, and 159 from the right side. Anything near the basket or straight ahead was not counted. While this chart doesn’t tell the full story — James could be on the right side of his court, go left, and shoot, and it would count as a jumper for the right side in these stats — but this still gives us a good idea of James’ tendency.

LeBron also shoots 44 percent on shots from the right side compared to 40 percent from the left. If MJ has this data, so should the rest of the league. I think I’ve even heard Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers mention it in the past. But even with this knowledge, James is still the toughest player in the league to defend. Something tells me MJ would have a hard time defending him anyhow. I wonder if this has anything to do with why MJ says he would take Kobe over LeBron.

H/T Business Insider



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