The science behind what makes Lebron the best in the game.

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Most people would agree that Lebron James is the best player in the game today…but have you ever thought about what makes him so great?

At first glance it might seem like his superior strength and explosiveness, his general athleticism, are what make him the best. The guy is a physical specimen.

However, when you break down the little things he does on the court, like the guys from ESPN’s sports science have done in this video, you see that there’s a lot more subtlety to Lebron’s game than his 40+ inch vertical.

Jumpshot

For example, take Lebron’s jump shot. Many fans watch him and think he is shooting over the defender…but that’s not really true.

The Sports Science guys measured the release point of Lebron’s jump shot at 9 feet. There isn’t a player in the league that wouldn’t be able to block his shot…if they could get there in TIME.

That’s the KEY! Even Lebron, for all his incredible athleticism, is only able to EXECUTE because he has habits that make him a Split Second quicker than his opponents.

Yes, Lebron’s explosive first step and high release point give him an extra few hundredths of a second to execute his move than you or I might have…but if he had sloppy, time wasting habits, he wouldn’t be half the player he is today.

Passing

Also notice how ESPN is breaking down Lebron’s passing. They calculate that he can get off a pass in 0.18 seconds.

What would happen if Lebron didn’t have his hands/wrist/body ready to pass and it took him .40 seconds to pass instead? He’d still have the same explosiveness and vertical but he wouldn’t be the same player that he is today.  I guarantee you he wouldn’t be averaging the 7 plus assists/game that he is now.

How would you do as Lebron’s team-mate?

ESPN measures that it takes less than 8/10ths of a second for Lebron to complete a cross court pass to a shooter on the wing. This doesn’t leave a defender in weak-side help position very much time to close out on the shooter. If Lebron had a slower release and delivery on his passes, how many fewer opportunities would his team-mates get each game?

If Lebron were passing to YOU spotting up on the weak-side, would you get your shot off?

Ray Allen is one of the best shooters in the game.  He can catch and release the ball in less than 4/10ths of a second.  When you add it all up you realize that the ball can go from Lebron’s hand, all the way across the court (0.80 sec) where Ray Allen catches and releases (0.40 sec) a shot in about 1.2 seconds!

I work with players (even some at the university level) who have inefficient shooting habits so that it takes them more than 1.2 seconds  just to catch and release a shot.

Can you see the difference that these Split Seconds make? Differences in where help side defence can set up.  Differences in the number of good shooting opportunities a player will get in a game.