NBA rumors have been floating around all season that the primary goal for the Cleveland Cavaliers is to figure out some way to get past the Golden State Warriors. The loss in the NBA Finals last season still stings throughout the entire organization. The Cavaliers might finally have a plan that might work. According to Cleveland Plains Dealer, LeBron James is now embracing the idea of playing power forward on a full time basis.
LeBron James tries his best to always be a team player. However, every NBA player has their preferences on the court. In the past, James has played power forward before, but he’s often reiterated that it is not his preference. He prefers playing his more natural small forward position. James doesn’t like the idea of expending extra energy guarding bigger opponents because it takes away from his ability to dominate on the offensive side of the game.
On Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Washington Wizards. Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue wanted Kevin Love to take the night off so his body can heal up. Rather than inserting another big man into the lineup, Lue opted to start Iman Shumpert at shooting guard, bumped J.R. Smith to small forward and had LeBron James playing power forward. The lineup worked out really well because Cleveland was able to play at a faster pace.
Playing LeBron James at power isn’t something that Tyronn Lue masterfully came up with. Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt both utilized the same strategy. The major difference, however, is that James is now embracing the move. The desire to not be beaten by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch might have a lot to do with the change in stance.
Draymond Green has grown to become arguably the second biggest asset for the Golden State Warriors. He’s a small forward that can play power forward and center, creating mismatches all over the place. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is able to utilize him that way because Green is committed to defense. Add in his ability to initiate an offense, and you can easily understand why he’s one of the top players in the NBA now.
One of the few guys in the NBA that can defend Draymond Green and his versatility is LeBron James. It’s a difficult assignment, but James will have to accept the role if he wants to finally bring an NBA Championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers. If LeBron stays solely at small forward, then the Cavaliers are forced to rely on guys like Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, and Timofey Mozgov to chase after Green, which is not a preferred scenario for Cleveland.
With LeBron James playing power forward, Kevin Love has to shift to center. That might end up being a really good thing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Doing that means that Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut would be removed from the paint because Love can shoot from the three point line. That clears a lot of room in the paint for James to play in isolation, something that can virtually impossible to defend.
NBA players talk about sacrifices all the time. Those that want to win championships know that it’s a necessary ingredient. LeBron James has had a taste of that success when he was with the Miami Heat. Since he desperately wants to share that feeling with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then sacrifice is something that he needs to commit even further to. Playing power forward is what James needs to do.
[Featured Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images]