With the possibility of an extended offseason due to the current lockout, LeBron James will have plenty of time to work on his game. Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon has been practicing with LeBron, and The King could learn a lot more than you think from The Dream.
Let’s take a deeper look at the two:
This past season, LeBron was responsible for 15.6 win shares over 79—a stat from basketball-reference.com that calculates a player’s contribution to his team’s overall victories. LeBron also put up 26.7 points per game on the one hand, and 3.6 turnovers on the other.
The 1993-94 season could be considered Hakeem’s best ever considering he was an NBA champion, season MVP, Finals MVP, All-Star and NBA defensive player of the year. During that campaign, Olajuwon played 80 games, with a total of 14.3 win shares by putting up 27.3 points and 3.4 turnovers per game.
Seems pretty similar, doesn’t it? Except for Hakeem racking up tons of accolades, I’d say they had very comparable numbers.
Some might think that the comparisons between Hakeem and LeBron end after the fact that they were drafted first overall, but there really is more to it than that. Both players are known for their dominance on both ends of the floor, and both made huge contributions to the success of their respective clubs. While LeBron is known for his ability to defend, as well as having the skill to seemingly score at will, he could still tweak his game in a number of ways before next season with Olajuwon’s guidance.
Here’s what Michael Jordan had to say about Hakeem: “If I had to pick a center [for an all-time best team], I would take Olajuwon... He always made great decisions on the court. For all facets of the game, I have to give it to him.”
If LeBron could benefit from only one of those “facets,” namely his post game, he could take his game to new heights. According to a breakdown from 82games.com, 31 percent of LeBron’s offense last year happened inside, amounting to 8.1 of his points per game. He was blocked on 5 percent those attempts.
We all know that LeBron is a lights-out shooter where he took 69 percent of his shots, but he could use some serious help on his inside game—which just so happens to be Hakeem’s bread and butter. If Hakeem helps LeBron on his inside game, as well as rebounding and blocking, he will simply be unstoppable.
It took Hakeem nine years to win an NBA championship, and he finally achieved it when he excelled at every aspect of the game. That 1994 season was remarkable, as Olajuwon took home almost every award available to him. Heading into his eighth season, LeBron could learn from Hakeem’s leadership and overall dominance in the game in addition to his lessons on the offensive side of the court.
Practicing with Hakeem could be the best thing that happens to LeBron if he manages to take away some serious lessons from the all-time great. LeBron is a leader and an elite scorer, but if he reaches the heights that Hakeem did in that 1994 season, he will become a complete player. Practice makes perfect, but practicing with Hakeem could make LeBron a champion.