LeBron James: 5 Ways He Can Keep His Game Sharp During the NBA Lockout
You know that feeling when you go up for a jump shot and the second the ball leaves your hands you know it's going in? Well, LeBron James feels that about 20 times a night and for good reason too.
James is undoubtedly one of the most skilled and talented basketball players ever to suit up for an NBA team and when he's on there's not much defenders can do but watch him work his magic.
When LeBron is on his game he knows his shots are going in because, well, they just do. Take his insane buzzer beater against Orlando while he was in Cleveland or his awesome third quarter buzzer shot in this year's playoffs.
However, as we all witnessed in the finals this year, LeBron can be off his game as well. Depending on how long the NBA lockout lasts, LeBron has anywhere from two to 14 months to fine tune his game and prevent another playoff collapse.
Here are some steps he can take to stay sharp heading into the next NBA season—whenever that will be.
Keep His Talents in South Beach, Not Overseas
If the league does end up cancelling the season, many players will turn to international teams in order to keep playing throughout the year. While this could be exciting and positive for some, LeBron still needs to get settled in Miami.
LeBron should want to improve on his game and turn himself into a more complete player, so he needs to get into the gym and shoot hoops. Working on his skills and the ability to close games is something that can be worked on from the Heat gym. He left Cleveland for Miami, he doesn't need to leave Miami for another team just because the season was cancelled.
He should stay put and remain focused on his new hometown—the city that's waiting for him to bring home a title.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
It's no secret that James has been in the spotlight nearly his entire life. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was still in high school and as we saw from "The Decision," his every move is under constant media attention and scrutiny.
Whether you're a fan or a hater I'm sure you would agree with the fact that LeBron needs to stop talking already and get something done. No more general tweets to fans with underhand comebacks to the haters, just points on the floor and banners in the rafters. That's what the people want. So, LeBron needs to focus his attention away from the cameras and back onto the court.
It will do wonders for his own confidence and for the support of fans if the shots we see of LeBron this offseason are him working hard in the gym—not suited up for press conferences.
Change from All-Star to Champion
To put it simply, LeBron James is a superstar. An all-star player who is arguably the greatest talent in the league today. There's no denying that he is just as skilled as Kobe or Duncan. I could argue with you for years about who is better, but the outcome would just be a difference of opinion.
However, the difference between them and LeBron is that while all three are extremely skilled players, Kobe and Duncan are champions.
LeBron could be the hands down, undisputed, ultimate talent in this league, but until he wins the title his legacy will feel incomplete.
LeBron needs to transform from an excellent player into an excellent finisher, one who scares other teams when the game is on the line.
Whether this is a psychological issue or an athletic one, LeBron definitely needs to make this switch during the offseason/lockout if he wants to avoid further playoff disappointments.
Work on His Free Throw Shooting
This tip is a bit more technical than the others, but it is extremely important for LeBron's offseason training.
LeBron is one of the most feared triple threat players in the league. When he has the ball he is easily able to take a jumper, drive to the hoop or v-cut and pass it off. Using this skill, LeBron attempted 663 free throws last season—good enough for fifth in the league.
How many did he make? A grand total of 503. That may sound like a lot, but that number equals a 75.9 percent rating which is only good enough for 204th in the NBA (based on total statistics of the entire league, not taking into account how many free throws were attempted).
LeBron is excellent at driving to the hoop and getting fouled, but as we all learned from Dirk in the playoffs, free throws are incredibly important. Not only are they free points, but they show confidence and the ability to come through in the clutch—two things LeBron needs to improve on.
So when he hits the gym this offseason, I hope that plenty of time is spent at the free throw line because practice makes perfect and perfect wins championships. Just ask Dirk Nowitzki.
Hold onto the Ball
Here are some more stats for you.
Last season, LeBron led the league in made field goals and was one point behind Kevin Durant for the best points per game average in the league. That tells us what LeBron can do when the ball is in his hands. Unfortunately, the ball left his hands and was picked up by the other team way too many times.
LeBron was second in the league with 284 turnovers last year—an average of 3.6 per game—which was the highest in his career. Just imagine what LeBron could have done if he had managed to keep the ball in his hands for even half of those lost possessions.
Turnover control is a fundamental part of basketball. Granted some of the best players in the league are keeping LeBron company in this statistical column, but he still needs to practice keeping the ball and holding for better possessions.
Hopefully with fewer turnovers LeBron can become the NBA scoring champion again and maybe even rack up a few more assists along the way.
Fundamentals are perfect for offseason workouts.