LeBron James can score pretty much at will, but what has always helped set him apart was how well he could pass. How he got his teammates involved despite Mike Brown’s offense.
The smart folks at The Painted Area went through the archives and found LeBron’s 8.5 assists per game this season is better than any forward in NBA history. The next best, Larry Bird at 7.6 assists per game in 1986-87. Not shockingly, the top 15 list list is heavy on Bird, John Havlicek and Grant Hill. With the odd Scottie Pippen thrown in.
LeBron is on pace to not just break this mark, but shatter it – almost a full assist per game ahead of Larry Legend’s best single-season mark. Also, note that only one of the top nine forward assists-per-game seasons was accomplished in fewer minutes per game than James’ 39.0 so far this season (Bird, ’90-91, 38.0).
Obviously, the big catalyst in pushing LeBron’s assists up to another level has been the spate of injuries to the Cavs backcourt, most notably to point guard Mo Williams, which has increased James’ responsibilities as a distributor.
While LeBron has always carried “the next MJ” tag, he has always been more Oscar Robertson, with a little Magic Johnson thrown in. Players with incredible court vision and a sense of how to set up teammates, not just put the ball in the hole.
It’s a great state, although I’m not sure we needed more stats to tell us LeBron is special and his team is having a good year.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.