Older LeBron James Can Still Dominate The NBA


Dec 9, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) calls timeout in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Some soreness to LeBron James‘ left knee benched the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar during last night’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which snapped the Cavs’ winning streak at eight. James was obviously missed, but it’s for the better he was able to get some rest, because nobody will remember a December road loss come playoff time.

It was troubling to see James is suffering from some knee soreness, and after hearing of the injury, Cavs fans can’t help but think that the four-time MVP is playing far too many minutes. It was a concern going into the season, and it’s especially a problem now when you consider James is second in the NBA, averaging 38 minutes per game.

James just doesn’t flow up and down the court as easily as he once did and his career high of 3.8 turnovers per game are a good indicator that the King isn’t quite what he used to be. This shouldn’t  come as a huge surprise considering James is approaching 30, and playing in his 12th NBA season.

It’s all relative, as 99.99 percent of the Association would like to suffer the same kind of “regression”as James, who now is just averaging 24.8 points per game, which is his lowest average since his rookie campaign. Yet while James’ scoring has suffered, that was to be expected when it became clear he’d team up with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

James was to take on more a distributor role with this new super team, and that’s been true, as his 7.7 assists per game average is the second highest of his career. He averaged 8.6 assists with the Cavs during the 2009-2010 season.

It’s probably a good thing that James isn’t grinding out 30-point nights, because if he had to, it would probably have a negative impact on his body.

Dec 11, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) handles the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

• While James’ scoring is down and he may not have the pop in his legs that he did five years ago, he’s still one of the top two players in the league.

That’s why it’s been great to see James play point guard, which has freed up Kyrie Irving to go bananas. He’s playing the best defense of his career, guarding the opponents point guard, while James is handling the ball on offense.

This change has passed the eye test, as it seems Irving no longer stands at the top of key drubbing, dribbling and dribbling some more.

Now, when Irving gets passed the ball, he looks more decisive. He’s passing, shooting, or driving, and not killing the offense by standing around with the ball.

During the eight-game winning streak, Irving averaged 19.3 points, while shooting 51 percent from the field (57-of-112). Irving is a career 45 percent shooter, so the change to move him off the ball speaks volumes as to how the change has worked.

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• Yes, it was scary to see Irving go down with what looked like a serious knee injury. James came out of the locker room to help carry Irving through the tunnel, and the diagnosis looked bleak–especially with how it played out on television.

But to the surprise of everyone, Irving returned to the game, where he finished with 20 points, while connecting on only seven of 21 shots.

Still his shooting percentage is the least of of everyone’s worries, as the Cavs and Irving survived a huge scare.

• Not really sure why it took David Blatt so long to insert James Jones into his rotation, but the moved looked good during a couple of games during the the winning streak.

On  Dec. 5 against the Raptors, Jones hit 2-0f-3 from 3-point range, and wen’t 4-of-5 against the Brooklyn Nets Dec. 7. Granted, he’s gone 0-for-6 in his last two contests, so he’s not going to always be on mark, but when he’s on, he’s very good and productive.

Jones appeared in just three games during November. He might not always be able to help, but Blatt will never know if he doesn’t play him. It appears he’s realized this and adjusting accordingly.

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