After watching the NBA playoffs and see LeBron James almost singlehandely take his team to his eighth consecutive NBA championship round by playing him man-to-man defense which allows him to have the ball in his hands most of the time on offense to go one and one to get to the basket or to shoot the 3 or to create for his teammates while averaging over 34 points per game in the playoffs this year.
I have often wondered when a team might try something unconventional to try to slow him down.
My basketball theory over the years has been I am going to try not to allow one player to beat me, but instead make a team beat me especially when they depend so much on their great offensive talented player for his scoring, offensive rebounding and his assists for teammates.
By playing man-to-man it increases the chances for one outstanding player like James to beat you as he has proved over the years. I have never seen any team just once this playoff season try something unconventional like play a 1-2-2 jug zone or combination defense of a 4 man defense and one man man-to-man called either a diamond or box and one.
A 1-2-2 zone would reduce James and Cleveland’s very effective dribble penetration which they heavily rely on to get to the basket or open threes.
The 1-2-2 zone would make it easier to cover the corners which is the favorite spot to shoot the 3 from in the NBA because it is only 23’9″ from the basket compared to 25 around the circle.
It could also cover the next 3 favorite spots to shoot the three from both wings and the point spot.
Also, it should slow the game down in the half-court and put more pressure to get the shot off faster because of the shot clock.
It is also harder to set screens against a zone then it does against man to man because you have to screen an area not a player.
If the 1-2-2 zone wasn’t effective how about a diamond and one junk defense with one tall man guarding James wherever he is on the court full, three-quarter or half-court and the other 4 playing zone. This would allow for double teaming James to force him to give up the ball as it would be hard for him to dribble penetrate thru 2 defenders. This defense is designed specifically so as to not allow one face-the-basket player beat you. Make the 4 other players beat you. If the player guarding James man-to-man can deny him the ball when he doesn’t have it effective then he can’t pass or dribble to create for his teammates or shoot the ball if he doesn’t have it and it also takes away the back door. Anytime James gets the ball the man guarding him and the nearest defender n the diamond zone comes out to double team him.
The man guarding James man-to-man also should never turn to block him out on a shot by him or a teammate. Just stay on the floor and dance in front of him so he cannot get around the defender to get to the offensive boards.
This junk defense also covers the point and 2 wings and the corners as the bottom player of the diamond shades to the ball side to be able to cover the short 3 point shot. If this didn’t cover the corners then you could make it a box and one which allow for better corner and wing coverage for 3’s.
Teams must be getting tired of getting beat by James by his triple doubles, one man scoring, rebounding and creation for his teammates so why not try something different. “Nothing ventured nothing gained” especially when it is not illegal to play zones or combination defenses today in the NBA.
This would also force Cleveland to have to spend more time working on offenses to be prepared for more than just man-to-man defenses.