Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What can LeBron possibly do better than what’s he doing right now? And this hot streak he’s on: Remember one as hot?
Steve Aschburner: I suppose James could regularly guard five positions rather than just four; we’ve seen scant minutes logged against centers, after all. I guess he could dazzle us with more stylish, less brawny off-the-dribble moves. But c’mon, this truly is nitpicking. He’s the best player in the league by a wide margin, as good as Kevin Durant is. As for the second part, please child! We live in an insta-age, where everything important presumably either happened three hours ago or won’t happen until tomorrow. I’ll just offer up this: Wilt Chamberlain averaged more than 50 points a game in 1961-62. From Dec. 8-13, 1961, he strung together five consecutive games of 50 or more. On Dec. 16, he started a new streak of seven games over 50. Two weeks after that, Chamberlain stacked up six more scoring at least 50, from Jan. 11-19. Then he put together another five-gamer from Feb. 25-March 4 of at least 58, including his 100-point classic. My work here is done.
Fran Blinebury: Come on, LeBron. I want the hot dogs plumper, the popcorn butterier, the beer colder and somebody to pat my back and burp me between quarters. See what you can do. My first season in Houston (1982), Moses Malone went on a similar tear where he was virtually unstoppable, making 30 points and shooting 60 percent seem routine. It produced the second of Moses’ 3 MVP awards.
Jeff Caplan: First, let me say, no, I can’t recall any streak by any player quite like this. It’s elevated LeBron’s field-goal percentage to a ridiculous 56.2, the kind of number that centers who mostly only dunk rarely even put up. But, let’s tackle the more pressing issue: Hey LeBron, how about learning how to shoot free throws, will ya? I mean 73.8 percent? You wouldn’t be shooting technicals on my squad, no sir. Not that you’ve ever been a great free throw shooter like, um, Kevin Durant, but you haven’t shot them this poorly since 2007-08 when you couldn’t ride your bicycle to home games because it’s too freaking cold in Cleveland. And let’s not stop at your free throw percentage, how about just getting to the line? What’s up with 6.9 attempts a game? Seriously? What happened to 10.1 like in 2009-10 or 9.4 the year before or, heck, 8.1 last season? And you call yourself an all-around talent. Hmph.
Scott Howard-Cooper: He is blowing it by not playing the lottery. Anyone in this kind of hot streak has to play the lottery, unless maybe he just does not aspire to be wealthy. The other thing he can do better is make free throws. He is a good shooter, except from the line. (You said to nitpick.) And while I join the rest of the world in being impressed with the streak, there have been no shortage of magical playoff runs through the years. I’ll take Michael Jordan in a couple of the early Bulls title runs or Magic Johnson in the mid-80s. An extended hot streak in the postseason is on a different plateau than a hot streak in the regular season.
John Schuhmann: I guess, as a team leader, he could do a better job of keeping the Heat focused on defense. They’re still not very consistent on that end of the floor. But yeah, that’s nitpicking. And no, I can’t remember anything like this. That time (in the middle of the 2005-06 season) when Kobe Bryant scored 40-plus in five straight games was somewhat comparable. He only shot 45 percent in that stretch, but he was shooting more from the perimeter.
Sekou Smith: Really? We’re going here in the midst of one of LeBron’s all-time great stretches? I guess he could shoot 90 percent from the floor every night for a week or two, average a quadruple double and drive the Heat’s first bus to the airport after road games. Seriously, LeBron is playing on another level right now, even by his own ridiculous standards. But this has been done before, at least in some form or fashion. Wilt Chamberlain played in this realm on a daily basis. And Oscar Robertson did average a triple double for about five straight seasons. And Michael Jordan had stretches throughout his career where he reached this sort of statistical craziness. I go back to Jordan’s 1988-89 season (I know I’m dating myself here) from March 25 to April 14 and he had a 10-game stretch where he was playing like he was in “Space Jam”; triple-doubles in 10 of 11 games. Preposterous!