Lebron James can’t shoot a mid-range jumper, folks

I’m enjoying all the psychologizing about Lebron James today, mostly because it’s beside the point. Lebron James did, indeed, fail to take over the Miami Heat’s final game against the now NBA champion Dallas Mavericks (and gosh does it feel strange to type that clause). In fact, he failed to lead his team throughout the series. But the failure wasn’t psychological; the failure was in his game, which has gaping holes that his size and athletic ability have tended to obscure. If you go to the NBA.com StatsCube, you’ll find a graphic on the lower right that shows James shoots 68 percent in “the restricted area” near the rim — that is, even when you count all his dunks, he only shoots 68 percent from three feet or less. But that’s not my point; if you look at his shooting from other segments of the court, you’ll see that Lebron shot all of 37 percent from mid range in the finals — worse than he shot on corner three-point attempts.

And that’s one of the largest holes in Lebron James’ game: He can’t really drive by someone, pull up for a 14-foot jumper and make it. He can hit the three. He can drive all the way to the hole and cram. But he can’t really get his own shot, if you cheat other defenders toward him so he can’t steamroller his man and go all the way to the rim and a thundering dunk. The Mavs took advantage of that weakness, and now so will every other team, until and unless Lebron spends a summer with D-Wade, learning how to create in the mid range.

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