LeBron piles up the stats, but will a playoff foe make his numbers pointless?

Justin Norris | Staff Writer

LeBron James is having perhaps his most statistically dominant season in his transcendent 15-year career.

James is on pace to play in all 82 games for the first time in his career, and he is surpassing his lofty career averages in almost every major statistical category. King James is averaging 27.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game, while shooting 54.7 percent from the field, 36.1 percent from 3-point range and 73 percent from the free throw line. This is his highest scoring average since his first stint in Cleveland, and his highest rebound and assist averages ever.

In addition to these jaw-dropping numbers, James, at 33 years old, is leading the NBA in minutes per game, while serving as the only constant for a wildly inconsistent Cavaliers team that has seen even its head coach miss games, and has used 26 different starting lineups this season.

Earlier this season, James also became the youngest of seven players to reach the elusive 30,000-career-points milestone, and just eclipsed Michael Jordan’s record for most consecutive games with double figures in points, with 867. James’ level of play appears to be at an all-time high. It’s no wonder that he told reporters after recording his career best 14th triple-double of the season, “I’m like fine wine, I get better with age.”

Despite the greatness of James, the Cavaliers are not expected to win the NBA championship this season. A LeBron-led team has never finished below the second seed in the Eastern Conference in a season that he advanced to the NBA Finals. Yet, James told reporters earlier this season that “it doesn’t matter to me if I’m a sixth seed, or a 3 seed, or a 2 seed, 8 seed. If I come into your building for a Game 1, it will be very challenging.”

However, the road to James’ fourth championship and a second title for Cleveland, particularly through the Eastern Conference, is more arduous than it has been since his return to Cleveland before the 2014-15 season. The Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics should provide a legitimate test for James and the Cavaliers even before facing likely either the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

The problem for the Cavaliers has never been about scoring points. Their issues start on the other side of the ball. They are the fifth in the league in points per game, but they also have the fifth-worst defense in the league.

The only possible way for the Cavaliers to win their second title in three seasons is to increase their lackluster regular-season effort and intensity levels defensively once the playoffs begin. This is something they have shown themselves incapable of doing for the past three years. In order to avoid postseason disappointment and beat the Raptors, Rockets or Warriors, the Cavaliers must be able to generate stops against the top 3 offenses in the NBA. If not, James could look to sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent this summer.

What’s wrong with the Cavs?

Justin Norris | Staff Writer

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Andres Kudacki | Associated Press

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers, three-time defending Eastern Conference champions, have gotten off to a lackluster 7-7 record to start the season.

So far, the Cavaliers have lost to supposedly inferior teams such as the Magic, Nets, Pelicans, Knicks, Pacers and Hawks.

It took a 57-point outburst, the second-most of LeBron James’ career, to avoid losing to the Wizards. This is the second-worst start to a season for James, with the worst coming in his rookie season.

Offseason acquisition Dwyane Wade told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, “Our first unit, we got to start off better.”

While Wade’s assertion is correct, there are multiple reasons explaining the Cavs’ struggles.

The Cavs are working in several new players to their rotation after trading Kyrie Irving in the summer, and there is always going to be an adjustment period when incorporating so many new players.

To make matters worse, All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas will not return from his hip injury until January.

The Cavs also simply are not making shots: they are making three fewer 3-pointers per game compared to last season.

Cleveland has been wildly inconsistent. The Cavs are averaging 118 points per game in wins and only 103 in losses, while their 3 point field goal percentage is 10 points higher in wins than in losses.

Perhaps the biggest cause of Cleveland’s struggles stems from their lackadaisical defensive play.

The Cavs rank dead last in defensive efficiency.

Their defense was poor last year, but their offense was dynamic enough that it covered up how porous their defense was.

This season, their offense has slipped slightly, and their defense has remained lousy, so the high-scoring games that they would have won last year are losses this year.

A bigger problem is that many of the players they’ve acquired are aging, injury-prone veterans who do not shoot well, which means that they are not a great fix next to James.

While many presume that the Cavs are just coasting until the playoffs, the one troubling aspect is that James’ scoring and rebounding numbers are up, so it is clear he is not mailing in the games so far.

This is the last season before James becomes a free agent.

The Cavaliers’ management must be worried about their slow start and what impact it might have on James’ free-agent decision.

James has made it clear that he will go to whatever team gives him the best chance to win championships.

He has left Cleveland once before, and after fulfilling his promise of delivering a championship to Cleveland, he has every right to leave again.

Lebron James is taking his talents to Hollywood

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Brianna Jackson & Jelani Scott

Renowned NBA star, Lebron James and his company, Springhill Entertainment are taking the athletes talents to Burbank. James and his company, which he and his manager and friend Maverick Carter co-founded in 2013, are forming a production partnership with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros Entertainment.

This partnership pairs the world’s No.1 basketball star with the largest television and movie studio, which is based in Burbank, Calif. The agreement will span movies, television, and other digital content. In addition, this agreement will provide James a home to build his entertainment aspirations and award him with global reach and brand expansion.

Warner Bros. Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara recently spoke on the LeBron deal and assured the public that “this is not a vanity deal.” Tsujihara also stated that “Warner Bros. always needs to be thinking about bringing fresh perspectives and diverse voices into the company” and it is clear that every party should benefit from their combined unique visions.

This alliance between the two super organizations will also see co-production and co-ownership on every collaboration, as well as Warner Bros. likely holding the copyright of any SpringHill content made as part of the agreement while SpringHill will share in the profits. This, however, is speculation at the moment and has yet to be confirmed by either side.

“To be able to partner with Warner Bros. will allow me to do some things I’ve always dreamed of,” said James, who has admitted in the past that he’s a longtime movie buff that used to fantasize about being Batman.

SpringHill already produces a variety of television shows, such as Bleacher Report’s “Uninterrupted”, a online web series that showcases various athletes’ lives (including James) off the court; and had been shopping around for a studio partnership for several months. The company also includes the comedy series “Survivor’s Remorse” that airs on the premium cable channel Starz and the DisneyXD show, “Becoming,” on its roster and is in the process of creating a game show that will air on NBC.

The deal comes fresh off the heels of James co-starring in the popular romantic comedy, “Trainwreck” starring comedienne Amy Schumer and SNL alum Bill Hader. The Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) film was released on July 17th. Initial projections had the film opening to around $20 million but, through its opening weekend, it ended up grossing over $30 million from 3,158 theaters, exceeding expectations.

James’ well-received performance, along with the Warner Bros. deal, has increased speculation that the four-time MVP could move from Cleveland to Tune Land and star in a sequel to the Warner Bros. cult-classic Space Jam, released in 1996 with legend Michael Jordan at the forefront. Warner Bros. has declined to comment on the rumors but, with their recent filing to renew the “Space Jam” trademark in June and the flick’s 20-year anniversary soon approaching, this rumor won’t go away anytime soon.

Fans young and old will have to wait for the final word on this potential endeavor but, for now, they can all “witness” King James continue to leave a lasting legacy and become the most marketable name possibly of all-time, which would be a huge accomplishment for the 30-year old who’s really “just a kid from Akron”.