The following question occurred to me today in anticipation of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers.
Is LeBron's versatility a problem?
I know that sounds like madness, but when you think about it the question has merit. King James's ability to play every position is amazing and sounds too good to be true. Who wouldn't want a player on their team who could do everything?
But therein lies the true issue. When you have a player as superb as LeBron you can't put him in a position where he has to do everything. Sure LeBron CAN pass, shoot, defend, rebound, block, steal, and move without the ball better than any player who has every played. HOWEVER, he shouldn't have to do all of those things. LeBron, like most great basketball players, is at his best when he allows the game to flow through him rather than having him work against the game. Being a natural distributor, James wants that ball to move around the court and organically find its way into the basket. Now if that organic way happens to be by a monstrous dunk than so be it. James intensely wants to win and at times during this postseason his teammates have appeared tentative, reluctant, and too concerned with what he was doing on the court rather than what they should do.
So if you're a General Manager or President of Basketball Operations, how do you build around a player who can do it all? How do you add teammates to a roster in which you have a superstar who can comfortably play serious minutes at all five positions? Well here's the deal, you don't. This whole situation is unprecedented. The Miami Heat are struggling in these East Conference finals, just like the Cleveland Cavaliers did during James's tenure there. There is no system, no metrics for this. No GM can look back at a team of yesteryear and say "that's how they did it, we'll do the same thing."
What to do then? I think if you have a player like LeBron your only option is roll the dice, hope his teammates respond to his intensity, and hold on for dear life. And if all goes well, you'll be raising the championship banner and kissing the Larry O'Brien Trophy. If all goes wrong, you be praying he doesn't bolt when his contract is up.