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Layups: Similarity in skills makes Miami’s duo unique

Posted by Neil Paine on August 26, 2011

Zach Lowe of SI's Point Forward blog (which you should subscribe to in your RSS reader if you haven't already) wrote today on a very interesting topic I've pondered before as well -- namely, the substantial overlap in skillsets between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and how it impacts Miami's efficiency.

8 Responses to “Layups: Similarity in skills makes Miami’s duo unique”

  1. Jason J Says:

    I don't disagree with anything Zach mentioned here (except maybe intimating that Jordan didn't provide spacing for Scottie - MJ might not have had Ray Allen range, but he was active using screens and drew Michael Jordan level attention away from the ball), but when he cited the Heats' scoring struggles in the second round through the finals, he failed to mentioned that the Celtics (rd 2), Bulls (rd 3), and Mavs (Finals) were 3 of the best defensive teams in the league. Running into those three teams might have had as much to do with the offensive drop off as anything else.

    Is there any way to run an examination of how the team offense fared based on the roles LBJ and DW played? Something based on Ass% v. Usage perhaps? I recall them going on a real tear while James was playing distributor and Wade worked off the ball, but I may be completely full of sh!# with that.

  2. JTaylor21 Says:

    #1, I think it's was in early stages of the season when Bron tried to play the facilitator role and the Heat got off to a 9-8 start. It wasn't until Bron and Wade decided to play "their" game that the heat started reeling off wins, it worked for them until the finals when Bron inexplicably decided to change his game and became a facilitator. It didn't work so well for them in the finals.

  3. marparker Says:

    Been watching reruns of the 96 bulls games. The most noticeable difference between the two teams is the amount of time each player spent in the post except for steve kerr. Miami had a plethora of players with no post game(Lebron,Miller, Jones, Bibby, Arroyo,Chalmers). They still got pretty close but need to become more post oriented if they want to be anything like the BUlls.

  4. Jason J Says:

    #3 - MJ, Scottie, and Harp liked to abuse smaller defenders with their size. The key was that teams were afraid to put smaller guards on Mike, which meant that he'd often wind up with a small forward covering him which led to three mismatches in their favor: Jordan with quickness over the defending 3, Scottie with size over the defending 2, and Harper with size over the defending 1.

    They would also post up in transition if they got a good mismatch. Jordan in particular liked to leak out and pin a point guard in the post when he got the cross-match.

    Harp would use his size advantage over most point guards on the glass too, but with Rodman around, nobody else really accrued a lot of rebounds.

  5. huevonkiller Says:

    After the All-Star break, LeBron and Wade were playing at a very high level (not taking away from each other) and the Heat still struggled. They declined as a team by a noticeable rate, and their bench had the lowest PER in the league.

    Team results have more to do with depth, a bad match-up (look at the regular season numbers), and people ignoring the Mavs were rated at a higher level before the Finals started.

    I watched Jordan in the 98 Finals and he was not Pau Gasol down there. He was more of a high-post player like KG, taking turnaround fading jumpers.

    As nice as Jordan was in the post, he was a much better player in losing seasons like 88, 89, 90. He was inferior and exerted less energy in 1992, 1997, 1998 by comparison. I think James deserves rings for what he has done throughout his career, not what he did in 2011.

    None of Jordan's post moves made the Bulls win 55 games in 1994, and get better on defense.

  6. Jason J Says:

    no doubt jordan was a better player as a slasher than a post player, and he actually had a post game prior to his retirement, he just used it sparingly to abuse teams that dared to match up small guards (like dumars or kj) against him. but his post play is why their offense worked at all in the late 90s on a team that won 72 games and three rings in a row. If you look at the starting lineup they rolled out, if Jordan hadn't been able to draw doubles and stick that turnaround, they would have been pretty stagnant, because he was also their only decent floor spacer. When Kerr and Kukoc got in the game it opened things up for slashing, but it hurt the defense too.

    i'd also say that 1996 jordan at 33 years old was a lot better than 1998 jordan at 35 years old, so even within that span he got measurably worse. like chuck says, father time is undefeated.

    and the '94 team is not the best comparison to the '93 team. they had 5 or 6 new players who actually saw impactful minutes and played a different style on both ends. the '92 team and '93 team played almost identical ball and had a bigger win disparity than the '93 and '94 teams, which phil jackson attributes to physical and mental fatigue in his book "sacred hoops" (coming off back to back championships and MJ and Scottie both played in the olympics the previous summer).

  7. Robert Roth Says:

    Baylor and West while far from identical had some similiar skills. Both could bring the ball up, both were quick, both could score in bunches, both could pass, both could rebound, both could jump. Baylor was a stronger rebounder, but West was good rebounder for a guard. Both were tremendous on the fast break. Both could drive to the basket. West had a better outside shot though Baylor had nice medium jumper. Baylor could play point guard and West could play small forward. Both exuded energy and confidence. Both could create moments of magic. And they could play beautifully together.

  8. huevonkiller Says:


    Michael's 1996 Finals was weak for his standards, Jason. He definitely ran out of gas and this hurts your argument about him. It really does not have anything to do with playing style but overwhelming talent on the court. You weren't paying attention to the Heat's season and the Heat's role players are excellent jumpshooters.

    This blog already went over the 1994 Bulls roster and they made no significant additions at all. MJ is simply not as good on defense as people made him seem, and the Bulls were significantly more talented than you give them credit for. Watch Pippen in the 1991 Finals dominate the Lakers and dunk all over them. It has nothing to do with post moves, Michael was at his best when he was a ball hog and over dribbler in 1991. He's simply more talented than anyone else in the 1990s, and the Bulls were great even without him.