Would LeBron James Be a Good Coach?
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
When his headband comes off for good, many years from now, James is equipped to similarly make one winning decision after another to impact games as an NBA coach.
In addition to his supreme athleticism, James' extraordinarily high basketball IQ would ensure this transformation.
On both ends of the floor, he has also expressed a well-rounded dedication to consistently improving all phases of his game.
Besides that, as a four-time MVP and future Hall of Famer, James would immediately command the respect of any NBA locker room for as long as the league exists.
Unlike other legends before him, though, his failures on the NBA's biggest stage have also developed a unique perspective that would serve him well as a coach.
LeBron James is a student of the game
When LeBron James first broke into the NBA, what helped separate him from other young superstars was his mental approach to the game.
Before he was endlessly compared to Michael Jordan, James was first billed as the next Magic Johnson. His extraordinarily high basketball IQ and point guard mentality, reminiscent of Johnson as a player, were the primary reasons why.
In an attempt to make his teammates around him better, James dished out 5.9 assists along with the 20.9 points he averaged as a rookie. He has since gone on to average 6.9 assists for his career.
This understanding of where and when those around him need the basketball to be most effective would help James in his transition to coaching.
He has embraced the importance of team defense
In a league comprised of the world's greatest athletes, defense is the ultimate difference-maker in determining an NBA champion.
Mike Brown and Erik Spoelstra are two coaches who understand this philosophy better than most.
As a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brown taught James the importance of team defense at a young age. Spoelstra, during his time with the Miami Heat, has reinforced many of those same philosophies.
As a result, James has become one of the NBA's best defenders from both a team and individual standpoint.
He has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times while also being one of the only players in the league who can spend time defending all five positions.
The defensive philosophies he's learned would provide the foundation necessary for James to effectively teach that side of the ball as a coach.
James understands the concept of player development
LeBron James would most likely never coach a player as talented as he is.
Despite the natural gifts he possesses, however, James has dedicated his time off the court to developing his all-around game.
As a rookie, for example, James shot 29 percent from three-point range. This past season, after spending time developing that area of his offensive game throughout his career, James shot 40.6 percent from three.
He's also improved his dedication to the glass, increasing his rebounding average to a career-high eight per game in 2013 as compared to 5.5 as a rookie.
This personal development would provide James with the perspective as a coach to help his players find ways to similarly develop.
If a player that shot less than 30 percent from long-range can become an effective three-point shooter, for example, than others can marginally improve as well.
LeBron would command an NBA locker room's respect
Mark Jackson commanded the respect of the Golden State Warriors' locker room right from the jump because of the work he put in as a player.
Jason Kidd became the Brooklyn Nets head coach, in part, for similar reasons.
LeBron James would command that same type of respect as a first-year NBA head coach, and then some.
There won't be a player who enters the NBA in the next 20 years who doesn't know of James and all his accomplishments. Where other coaches must first prove themselves, James, like Jackson and Kidd, will be afforded the respect he's earned from the very beginning.
James' past failures have provided a unique perspective
LeBron James arrived on the NBA Finals stage for the first time in 2007. His Cleveland Cavaliers would be swept by the San Antonio Spurs, however, as James struggled while shooting 35.6 percent from the floor.
He'd return as a member of the Miami Heat in 2011 before falling again to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
It wasn't until the 2012-13 campaign, as the Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, that James finally broke through to become an NBA champion for the first time.
Many great players are not great coaches because they can't understand how others don't "automatically" achieve success. In LeBron's case, though, he knows what it's like to fail on the biggest stages, then work to get back there.
It's this perspective that helped him lead the Heat back against the Spurs in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, and it's also the same perspective that would serve James well as a coach.
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