Dish the Rock: Is LeBron James the Miami Heat's Best Option at Point Guard?
Usually a regular NBA starting lineup will feature five players that each have a specialty in the position they are playing. The center is usually 6'10" or taller and spends most of his time in the paint as an enforcer and rebounder, the forwards split the scoring and rebounding, and the guards are usually the playmakers that set up plays and make the most scores.
The point guard is probably the most important position on the floor. A team with a quality point guard will always excel as far as making plays and finding easy scores. They are known as floor generals for their ability to be the team leaders and allow the four other players on the floor to rely on him for scores that he creates out of his playmaking talents.
In the Miami Heat's case, they have three superstars currently filling in at the shooting guard, small forward, and power forward spots, a strong defensive center to plug up the middle, and an inexperienced young point guard that hasn't proven himself to be much of an All-Star caliber point guard.
The current starter at the one spot is now third-year guard Mario Chalmers, who had a terrible off year last season and was replaced by Carlos Arroyo as the starter halfway through the season. Chalmers had averaged 10 points and five assists two seasons ago and showed potential as the starter for the future, but had a huge decrease in his shooting and became more of a liability—especially on the defensive side—rather than a threat.
Chalmers does have the talent to thrive off the system the Heat will play in the future and has many positive attributes to him. Among them is his brilliant off the ball defending that resulted in a nine-steal game early in his career, the talent to be extremely explosive when given an open lane, and his impressive range from beyond the arc where he has hit 35 percent in the past two years.
His replacement last season, Carlos Arroyo, was huge for the Heat last season as far as scoring went, as he became an impressive mid-range threat and a knockdown shooter from 15 to 20 feet out. However, he doesn't fit into the starting lineup as well as Chalmers because he needs the ball in his hands to be recognized as a scorer and passer. Last season's Heat could have used that, but this year's team features three starters that have thrived with the ball in their hands in the past.
While both have their accolades and flaws, there is one option that would work out for anybody and make the one spot for the Heat one of the biggest mismatches in NBA history. No, I'm not talking about starting Eddie House, Kenny Hasbrouck, or Patrick Beverly either. There is a 6'8", 250 pound athletic oddity that has no problem running the floor and creating easy scoring opportunities for his teammates.
That athletic oddity happens to be the newly acquired LeBron James, and even though he is listed as a small forward, he has no problem in running the point as he did so with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a number of occasions over the past few years. He isn't quite Magic Johnson, but he does use his height, speed, and talent to his advantage and would put opposing teams in a quandary of how to contain a point guard that is far and away more athletic than their point guard.
There wouldn't be too much of a problem as far as the starting lineup goes either, as the small forward spot would be filled in by sharpshooter Mike Miller. If the projected starting lineup of Chalmers at the point and James at small forward remains the same, then there would be no pure three-point shooters on the floor to start games.
With James at the point however, it allows a career 40 percent three-point shooter to be on the floor to start games and adds another threat to an already volatile starting lineup. While James can be recognized as a threat from beyond the arc, as he hit nearly two three-pointers per game last season, his shooting percentage is at 33 percent. It is that low because he would need to will his team to victory by forcing up three-pointers.
That probably explains why he averaged over five three-point attempts last season.
With Miller on the floor, you spread out the floor even more than it already will be. You now have two shooters and slashers in Wade and James, a three-point shooter in Miller, a post threat in Bosh, and a cleanup man in Anthony. It not only adds a legitimate fourth scoring threat to the starting lineup, but it also gives more open opportunities for anyone on the floor due to the absurd number of threats that could score from just about anywhere within half court.
Back to James as the point guard now.
With LeBron as the point guard, you have a multi-dimensional threat who can score, pass, and rebound at will. He is coming off a career season where he averaged a high in assists at nearly nine per game with a Cavaliers team whose main second scoring threat was Mo Williams. If James can find players such as Williams, Antawn Jamison, and Shaquille O'Neal for upwards of nine assists per game, then he should find no trouble in finding Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for scores as well.
As far as being a selfish player, if he is given the role as starting point guard, it should not come as a problem because he knows what he is getting himself into when he joined the Heat. He realizes that he is going from two completely different situations. In Cleveland, he was the leader and had to make his teammates better. In Miami, he shares the leadership role and already has teammates that usually don't need another teammate to thrive off to score.
James' role as starting point guard would be the Heat's greatest attribute as they not only have a quality player who can handle the ball, but they'll have a player who has double the amount of athletic ability that any point guard has. His strength would be unmatched. His speed, even amongst the most agile point guards, would be a threat. With more attention focused on him due to the mismatches that he will cause, it would only open up the floor and additional scoring opportunities for players like Wade and Bosh.
LeBron as the starting point guard would potentially be one of the NBA's scariest threats, as he would be a point guard in a small forward's body running the floor. Miami has been deprived of a quality point guard since losing Jason Williams three years ago, and the Heat have their obvious struggles due to the lack of a stable passer and scorer from the one spot.
With James as the point guard, the Heat receive not only James as their point guard, but another scoring threat on the floor that can shoot it from beyond the arc. The final decision is up to the Heat's staff to decide who makes this team better as the starting point guard, but there is no doubt that LeBron would turn the point guard spot from the team's weakest point to its strongest.
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