Miami Heat: What LeBron James Can Do Differently to Help Turn the Heat Around

Jonathan OwensCorrespondent INovember 20, 2016

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It's actually quite simple really.  Two easy steps.

The first step is to stop trying to grow his brand before winning.  After the game Sunday against the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James got in front of the camera and told you how he's apologized to "his team" and he wouldn't keep failing them by missing those last second shots.

The problem isn't that he missed that shot, though.  The problem is that he took it.  Does he want to win?  Of course he does, but not at the expense of growing his ever important brand.  He knows he needs to win championships, but he refuses to make a sacrifice to the parts of his game that would affect his brand.  Sunday only helped illustrate this.

Dwyane Wade put the Heat on his back and carried them the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.  He hit jumpers, made layups, drove to the basket and set up his teammates.  At the 6:07 mark, Wade made a layup to tie the game and the Bulls called timeout.

My friend sitting next to me said he thought that was it and the Heat were going to win.  His father actually turned off the television and left his home he was so sure.  I said there was no way the Heat were winning because LeBron wouldn't allow being the after thought in the win.  He can't be the bystander, he has to be the hero.

The thought back in July when he joined Bosh and Wade on the Heat was that he would accept being the co-captain because he wanted to win more than anything else.  Now it has become clear that he doesn't accept Wade as his co-captain.  He views Wade as a more athletic Mo Williams.  Nothing has changed about his game or the way he chooses to play.  He just has a better "supporting cast" for those games that are close.  But the reason the Heat have a losing record in games decided by five points or less is that LeBron takes over in the last six minutes, and he refuses to win under any terms but his own.

The second step is actually an extension of the first, be the point guard in name and not just actions.  He controls the offense, is the primary ball handler, and leads the team in assists, he is the point guard.  But he refuses to start at the point.  Why?  Perhaps he doesn't want to be forced to defend the elite point guards every night for the entire game.  Yes, he has switched on to them in late game situations, but that is considerably different than defending them for 40 minutes every night.

With as much trouble as the Heat have had with quick, penetrating point guards this season you would think that the best defender on the Heat would welcome the challenge of shutting them down.  But if they exposed him as a mediocre defender that would damage his brand.  I don't think that's it though, at least not the main reason.

The main reason, I think, is that being the point guard doesn't allow him the ability to shoot 30 times a game like Kobe can.  LeBron has the ability and talent to average a triple double for an entire season.  He could easily play four positions on the court like Magic Johnson.  He won't, though, because that would almost certainly remove him from the "greatest of all time" conversation.  Oscar Robertson is the only other player to average a triple double for an entire season and he is almost never in the conversation.

Magic Johnson was the career steals and assists leader until John Stockton broke both, won five championships and played in eight NBA finals, yet the debate is usually between Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain for the G.O.A.T.

LeBron knows that in today's NBA, if he accepted a reduced scoring role for the benefit of the team and to increase his assist and rebounding numbers, he would reduce that brand because Wade would get more of the credit for the Heat winning.  So one of the Heat's fundamental weaknesses, their inability to defend elite point guards well, remains unfixed.

What it comes down to is that LeBron needs to view Dwyane Wade differently.  The Heat repeatedly trail in the fourth quarter and Wade brings them back only to be frozen out in the last six minutes by LeBron.

There is a reason Derrick Rose never wanted LeBron on this team.  He knew LeBron would view it as his team.  Rose always wanted Wade because he knew Wade was willing to share the team with him.  LeBron hasn't realized that he needs to share the Heat with Wade because as much as he wants to be viewed like Jordan, right now he's just another Dominique Wilkins.

Not a bad comparison, but not a first ballot Hall of Famer either.