Skip to content

Does Wade or LeBron start driving the lane less?

Sep 17, 2010, 2:57 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for d-wade-king-james.jpgDwyane Wade and LeBron James may be the two best players at getting to the rim in the NBA.

It’s a scary prospect to think of that on the same team — but would the fact they like to do the same thing force one to alter his game some? Does one become a guy who lives more on the perimeter?

In a fantastic post by Neil Paine at the Basketball-Reference.com blog, they went back through history and looked at what happened when two guys who drove the lane a lot joined forces.

The result — usually one guy backs off. Gail Goodrich backed off for Jerry West. Michael Redd backed off for Richard Jefferson. Stephon Marbury gave room to Steve Francis. And so on and so on, it’s not universal but it’s the norm.

And it poses and interesting question for the Heat.

It seems as though LeBron and D-Wade have a decision to make this season — either they both cut back on their forays into the paint, or one of the two has to play with reduced aggression while the other maintains his attacking style. Either way, from these historical examples it’s clear that someone will have to alter their style of play for the good of the team. The question is, which option will they choose, and how will that impact the team’s offensive efficiency?

Last two seasons LeBron shot 40 percent from 16 feet out to the arc, and in those seasons shot 34.4 and 33.3 percent from three. (Stats via Hoopdata.com)

Last season Wade shot 36 percent from 16 feet to the arc, two seasons ago that was 42 percent. From three he shot 29.9 percent last season and 31.7 percent from there two seasons ago.

In theory, James is the better outside shooter, so you’d like him to be the guy backs off a little and shoots the outside shot more. Except the last thing you want is a less aggressive James — he can get to the rim as well as anyone who ever played the game, you don’t tell him to stop that.

And frankly, you don’t want those two guys taking spot up shots away from Mike Miller, Eddie House and all the guys who are better at that role than James or Wade.

It is possible that both men back off a little. Everyone sacrifices, just like Pat Riley has been preaching. If you read the blog post, Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse did that when they met (although that situation was rife with other problems). But more likely, one guy changes.

Something to watch once we get to the season.

  1. David - Sep 17, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    If one has to back off, I think it makes the most sense for that person to be Wade.
    Wade has been mostly injury free over the last two seasons. Still, he’s older than LeBron and is clearly the less durable of the two.
    I think, in the long run, it would be smarter to have the bigger, stronger, younger, more durable James do most the dirty work in the paint.
    Wade hasn’t been the best outside shooter when playing the NBA game. However, he’s shot better in the international game when he’s been able to play off the ball while surrounded by better teammates.
    I think that you’ll see his outside shooting percentages go up this year when he has more opportunities to catch and shoot as opposed to shooting off the dribble.

  2. David - Sep 17, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    If one has to back off, I think it makes the most sense for that person to be Wade.
    Wade has been mostly injury free over the last two seasons. Still, he’s older than LeBron and is clearly the less durable of the two.
    I think, in the long run, it would be smarter to have the bigger, stronger, younger, more durable James do most the dirty work in the paint.
    Wade hasn’t been the best outside shooter when playing the NBA game. However, he’s shot better in the international game when he’s been able to play off the ball while surrounded by better teammates.
    I think that you’ll see his outside shooting percentages go up this year when he has more opportunities to catch and shoot as opposed to shooting off the dribble.

  3. Jack - Sep 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Wade: “you go first, you’re the King.”
    LeBron: “no, you go first, age before beauty.”
    Wade: “How about we take turns?”
    LeBron: “Nah, too predictable.”
    Wade: “OK, we both go at the same time and whoever has the ball hits the other for an alley-oop slam at the rim. or not.”
    LeBron: “Or we hit Miller for an open 3.”
    Wade: “or we shovel it off to Bosh for an easy base line jumper.”
    LeBron: “or we pass back to Rio or Eddie for a 3.”
    Wade: “So many options, so little time.”

  4. Brian - Sep 17, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Exactly David
    Wade did say he’d like to average like 12 assists one game or something so then throw up alleyoops for the others.
    Lebron is younger so he can crash the boards and unstoppable with his size. Bosh brings energy. Each can switch up having game highs pts each night.

  5. johnmaine - Sep 17, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    These are the top 10 worst WHUT?! faces from NFL QBs: http://bit.ly/bxLgSN

  6. rage - Sep 17, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    LeBron has not been a better two-point jumpshooter except for last year when Wade had an aberrant shooting year. But, overall, I would say that it is in the Heat’s best interest to have Wade be the primary scorer for the next couple seasons because when he loses a step LeBron will still only be 27 or 28, and he can then revert back to being a 30 ppg scorer for the next few seasons after that. This way the Heat will maximize the remaining years of Wade’s prime and extend James’s prime in the process.

  7. Jkid56 - Sep 17, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    And this entire conversation will happen after each and every block/rebound they gonna have at the defensive end. As they are running up the court, those lucky fans at courtside will hear that back and forth. The culmination will be whatever the other team decides to run at them defensively. LOL! Oh so much fun!

  8. jiggles - Sep 17, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    “went back through history and looked at what happened when two guys who drove the lane a lot joined forces…”
    “Go back” to the greatest duo in sports history. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Both drove the lane. Both did everything.
    This site is cool but don’t say you did research when you only do research that suits your argument.

  9. Anthony - Sep 17, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    We can’y just say that…We’ll have 2 wait n see!

  10. R D Philpot Carter Sr. - Sep 17, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    This is a dumb article. In basketball, you never disrupt another player when they’re in the zone if you want to win. If it happens to be Lebron, Wade creates for him, if it happens to be Wade, then Lebron creates. Both guys have the ability to create for themselves. Some people make a lot out of nothing. If they play together, we win. By the way, the open guy should take the shot regardless who it is…

  11. R D Philpot Carter Sr. - Sep 17, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    Forgot to mention, for all those folk who are Bosh bashing, he gets higher percentage shots this season (life gets a lot easier for Chris). In fact, they all get better shots because they create match-up problems for any team. Wade or Lebron can break down a defense and allow others to finish (whether a slam dunk or 3 pointer).

  12. Markinator - Sep 18, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    I think the key will be both driving and then dishing after the Center makes his move to one or the other. Keep it fluid and flowing like water and take what the defense gives you.

  13. Daniel - Sep 18, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    Wade is the better shooter than lebron. But Lebron has more muscle than he does.So they are basically going too take turns

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

The list of championship contenders
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (8497)
  2. K. McDaniels (7877)
  3. R. Rondo (7570)
  4. K. Durant (7468)
  5. B. Lopez (6801)