In the 1997 movie Men in Black, Will Smith asks the questions, “Why are we here?” Second Lieutenant, Jake Jenson answers, “We’re here because you are looking for the best of the best of the best, sir!” This is what happens as we continue to go through the NBA playoffs. The cream rises to the top and the elite players perform better under pressure.
In the history of the NBA there have been 7 players to hit the prestigious 50-40-90 mark. What that means is,through the course of entire season, a player shot over 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point line and 90% from the Free throw line. The 7 NBA stars to achieve this goal: Kevin Durant, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Larry Bird, and Stephen Curry. Nash and Bird are the only players who achieved 50,40,“90 in multiple seasons. Reaching these stats is the benchmark of a great season, but we have two players right now, who are close to achieving this goal in the playoffs… LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
These two superstars couldn’t be more opposite. James is a human highlight reel on and off the court. It is estimated that James earns up to $100 million per year from endorsements. Leonard could really steal Tim Duncan’s nickname, and we can call him “The Big Fundamental”. You rarely see Leonard make a bad decision or take an off balance shot. He has become one of the most skilled and fundamentally sound players in the NBA. He has a ton of strength and athleticism to go with his impressive fundamentals as well. I call James and Leonard, Superman and Batman of the NBA. They play the game as if they are from another planet, and they make it look easy doing it.
The Cavaliers have gone 8-0 in the first two rounds. James is averaging, 34.4 points, 9 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 steals per game. As impressive as those numbers are, these are even more impressive. He is shooting 55% from the floor, 46% from three and 84% from the free throw line. James shot 36% from three and 67% from the free throw line during the regular season. When the game gets more important and when the competition gets better, his numbers go up.
The Spurs defeated a very tough Memphis Grizzlies team in six games during the first round of the NBA Playoffs. They are now tied up 2-2, against the high scoring Houston Rockets. The Spurs have the worst starting 5 out of any teams remaining in the second round of the playoffs. To make matters worse, Tony Parker (their second leading scorer in the post-season) is out for the year with an injury. Teams prepare their whole game plan to stop Leonard and they still can’t do it. Leonard leads his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He is averaging 28.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He is shooting 54% from the floor, 48% from three and 93% from the free throw line. There is no doubt in my mind that he will win defensive player of the year for the 3rd straight season.
I don’t know if either one of these players will win the championship this season. Golden State is waiting in the wings, but if they are on the court, I will give their teams a 50-50 chance. They are truly the best of the best in the NBA.
LeBron James =Superman
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