Blog Entry

Heat Stroke: LeBron James to play center?

Posted on: January 11, 2011 11:08 am
The Miami Heat have played LeBron James at center recently, and coach Erik Spoelstra says it could continue. Posted by Ben Golliver. heat-stroke

Here's an interesting detail that was lost in the Miami Heat's comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, a win highlighted by a ridiculous offensive stretch from LeBron James and punctuated by James spanking himself after making a three-pointer in overtime: James played center on some defensive possessions down the stretch.

Much like the ringer on your local YMCA rec-league team, James is, at times, Miami's best ball-handler on offense and its strongest, most physical low-post presence on defense. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra took that fact to the extreme on Sunday night against the Trail Blazers, using James to cover Blazers center Marcus Camby. The Sun-Sentinel reports that the strategy paid off and that it might be used again.
"We've talked about it all season," Spoelstra said of the team's internal deliberations. "This certainly now is a good sign that we can start to do that. That might be a way we could use our versatility more."
James, for his part, seemed to approve.
While it is an approach that not only enabled the Heat to battle back from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit, it could have more significant long-term implications. Without having to utilize a lineup spot for middling middlemen Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier or Joel Anthony, it could open potential playing time for Mike Miller, who now has been held out of four of the last seven games. "It's not going to work every game, but I think it was the right situation," James said. "Coach made a great call and we made some good plays."
Going small worked well against the Blazers because Camby is not a late-game threat to score, nor is he a traditional low-post big man. While he does crash the offensive boards relentlessly, James didn't need to worry about matching up with Camby's length and height on the low-block because that's not a key facet of Portland's attack, especially late in the game, when the offense generally runs through power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and Camby just chills on the weakside or at the high post.

Against the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Los Angeles Lakers, among other quality teams with true big men, using James at the five would be dead on arrival. But against small ball teams or those with non-traditional bigs, the Heat have every reason to counter by going small as well, as their collective talent level in those situations is sure to surpass that of virtually every opponent.

One last benefit of James playing center: there are that many more opportunities for him to corral a defensive rebound and immediately push in transition, where the Heat have been deadly lately. No big man in the league can keep up with him in the open floor, and this is an excellent way for Miami to easily create numbers on the break.

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: January 12, 2011 11:48 am

Heat Stroke: LeBron James to play center?

Are you kidding?!  Dwight and Shaq would treat LeBron like a boy playing little league.  Yes, LeBron would have more opportunities to touch the ball, but just because he would play center at D doesn't mean that either of those teams would be stupid enough to have their center guard Prince James on O.  A good coach (like VanGundy, Rivers, Jackson) will adjust to this style of play. 
That would be like having Dwight guard would just be ludicrous and a waste of the players natural talents.  Bron is a great defender, but not against the likes of Big DH.  Hooks would be draining like rain, his dunks would be unstoppable,  and he might reach triple digit rebounds(obviously an exaggeration, but it would be pitiful at best).  It would also free Dwight to sit next to the lane and cherry pick his blocks.  It may give him the opportunity to get his second trip-dub, though. With Bron guarding him, the dub-dub is all but guaranteed and served to him on a platter (as it is most nights even with a true big in the lane).   I hope and pray that next time we meet the Heat, James is guarding Howard...I'll laugh all the way to the bank!!  Bron is quite possibly the greatest player of his generation, but you never saw Jordan, Bird, or Johnson trying to defend the likes of Hakeem or Ewing...there's a reason for that.
And with the way Bass and Anderson are playing at PF and the addition of the Turk as a point forward and J-Rich and JJ able to play the SF position, he'll have plenty to worry about without thinking about Howard.  Not a chance that he'd be able to handle him and not likely that their coach would be stupid enough to even attempt it, but I sure would love to see it Laughing ...

Since: Nov 1, 2010
Posted on: January 12, 2011 1:40 am

Heat Stroke: LeBron James to play center?

This just in: LeBron claims that he is "not a center".

Since: Nov 5, 2010
Posted on: January 11, 2011 7:03 pm

Lebron Mania

Anything for a story huh.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: January 11, 2011 6:23 pm

Heat Stroke: LeBron James to play center?

Camby has never been able to match up well with the guys who get physical down low.

Since: Apr 11, 2010
Posted on: January 11, 2011 5:31 pm

Heat Stroke: LeBron James to play center?

Not convinced that LeBron at center against Shaq (too old, too slow, foul prone), Dwight Howard (fundamental unsound),  or Pau Gasol (not enough physicality), is dead on arrival.  Here's hoping that experiment happens during the regular season, and therefore Mike Miller or James Jones slips in quality, consistent minutes.

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