LeBron James is a handicapped player.
James may lead the Miami Heat in points, rebounds and assists in clutch time this season but it has not translated to him being able to make game-tying or winning shots. According to ESPN, James has made just three of 14 game-tying or game-winning shots with less than 24 seconds left in the game since joining the Heat. James’ ability to take and make late game shots has been criticized by many followers of the NBA.
The criticism is valid.
In his first year with the Heat James missed game winning shots against the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and in the first round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers. In every situation James was isolated and took the defender one-on-one bailing out the defender with contested jump shot.
In the 2011-2012 season James made a significant effort to attempt the least amount of game-winning or tying shots as possible which was most apparent late in the season when James caught fire against the Utah Jazz but passed to Udonis Haslem at the end of the game. This season despite winning his first ring, first NBA Finals MVP award, second Olympic gold medal, and third regular season MVP award James still lacks the ability to make shots at the end.
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant do not possess the athleticism or passing skills of James, that ultimately makes him better than both, but the gap is small due to James’ inability to make shots. The Heat lost to the Washington Wizards on Dec. 4 due to James missing a wide-open three pointer with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Wednesday night with less than one second left against the Golden State Warriors James missed a baseline turnaround jump shot.
James can use the excuse that he wouldn’t have had to take that shot if Shane Battier made the right read on the Warriors last possession but he should be making these shots at this point in his career.
At this point in time James is the best player in the world and can finish as one of the greatest of all-time, but he also can finish as the only multiple award winning MVP who can’t make game winning shots.