Draymond Green recently proclaimed LeBron James as “arguably the smartest guy to set foot on a basketball court.” The way that the Golden State Warriors forward said it, it was clear that he considered “King James” to be the smartest to ever play the game.
Chris Broussard, on “The Odd Couple” podcast, disagreed with the notion that the LA Lakers superstar is the smartest player. He pointed out a key aspect of the four-time MVP’s game, which disqualifies James from that honor.
Here’s what the Fox Sports analyst had to say about James' basketball smarts:
“In Miami, LeBron played probably the highest level. Dwyane Wade had to step back and be about 80% of the player he could be. I wrote an article about that and Wade thanked me for it. Erik Spoelstra read it to the team about the sacrifices that I said Wade had made…Chris Bosh became a role player.”
“And it’s the same thing in Cleveland. Kevin Love wasn’t at his best playing with LeBron and so he’s obviously a smart player but I could not say the smartest player we’ve ever seen.”
The 2010-11 Miami Heat were one of the biggest flops in NBA Finals history. They lost to the Dallas Mavericks, who relied on a lone superstar in Dirk Nowitzki and his aging supporting cast. It wasn’t until Dwyane Wade and LeBron James figured out how to play together that the “Heatles” take off.
Arguably the biggest change in Miami’s dynamic at the time was Wade conceding alpha status to LeBron James. The same applies for Chris Bosh, whose usage dropped off when “King James” was in South Beach.
Kevin Love also had to sacrifice a lot in terms of personal accomplishments to play alongside LeBron James. In Love’s last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was an All-Star, averaging 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
In his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of James’ supporting cast, Love averaged 16.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists. His minutes and usage also significantly fell from where they were when he was in Minnesota.
Broussard went on to explain why LeBron James’ style isn't the smartest way to play the game:
“I can’t give him the title of the smartest, Rob [Parker]. Because I don’t think dominating the ball is the smartest way to play basketball. I think the smartest way to play basketball is when you get all five guys involved and you maximize basically most players on your team or all the starters on the court with you are close to maximizing their abilities.”
Chris Broussard considers Magic Johnson a smarter player than LeBron James
Many feel LeBron James' skillset mirrors that of Magic Johnson. The greatest point guard in NBA history doesn’t have James’ elite scoring and athleticism, but they play the game almost the same way.
It’s no wonder then that Johnson and James are almost always at the top of the list when it comes to basketball IQ.
Broussard said he would give the five-time LA Lakers icon his vote as the smartest to ever play basketball:
“I think Magic Johnson, probably, is the smartest player. He didn’t take over the team. He knew Kareem’s the guy and I think LeBron would have been that had he joined Shaq, that might have been the case. But I think Magic clearly, he was incredibly smart on the basketball court.”
Broussard also explained what sets apart Magic Johnson’s Lakers from LeBron James’ various teams:
“The Showtime Lakers were so great because Kareem could be at the highest level that Kareem could play at. Magic could play at the highest level he could play at and James Worthy could play at the highest level that he could play at.”