The article “LeBron James: Key to beating Warriors lies in ‘group of minds,’” former Miami Heat star James asked,
”How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State [Warriors], to be able to compete for a championship?”
Later on he flat out states talent alone doesn’t win championships.
”In order to win, you’ve got to have talent, but you’ve got to be very cerebral too,” James said. “Listen, we’re all NBA players. Everybody knows how to put the ball in the hoop. But who can think throughout the course of the game?”
The writer made this observation about what James said,
”By detailing what type of smart players it takes to win championships, James could very well have been intentionally dropping clues as to what he thinks of his Cavs teammates, as well as what he will be looking for in weighing any new franchise he should decide to join.”
”In other words, all four of the presumed most likely destinations for James this summer -- Cleveland [George Hill], Philly [76ers] [Ben Simmons], Houston [Rockets] [Chris Paul] and the [Los Angeles] Lakers [Lonzo Ball] -- have at least one player who fits the smart-teammate mold that he seeks out.”
At the end though James mentioned one factor the Heat possess, which many other teams don’t:
”...[Warriors] also have the championship DNA.”
Lonzo Ball has never even been in a NBA playoff series, Simmons got knocked out in the second round, and fitting in max contracts for Paul and James (along with James Harden’s salary) will be a challenge for the Rockets.
The Heat have several cerebral players on the their team, such as Dwyane Wade, Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow, Wayne Ellington, Josh Richardson, who fit a team-first mold.
The video below highlights the passing skills Miami has, when at their best on offense, which eventually resulted in Ellington baskets from the perimeter.
I counted 18 baskets in the video coming from unselfish basketball sets, due to assists from the bench players Ellington shared most of his court time with.
Bam Adebayo had the most direct assists with four: he has a knack for good hand-offs and setting legal screens on the perimeter for Wayne to get a clean look at the basket.
Next was James Johnson and Richardson with three helpers each: together with Ellington, they’re always on the move looking for open teammates.
Not surprisingly, Kelly Olynyk had the most secondary assists (3), as he constantly probed to draw in defenders, and was excellent at “Kelly keepers” to create spacing for Ellington.
Hassan Whiteside‘s two assists to Ellington showed Hassan could pass the ball with the right teammates surrounding him.
James and other elite NBA players message to Whiteside is to focus on developing a championship DNA, rather than chasing a large social media following: that will come with winning basketball.
A striking finding from the Ellington clip was how effective Miami’s big men, such as Adebayo, Olynyk, James Johnson, Whiteside, were at blocking out smaller defenders at the 3-point line not only for Ellington, but could also include Tyler Johnson, Richardson, Goran Dragic as legitimate outside threats.