It seems to me all the graphic artists working on such projects for their basketball preview issues can put their drawing boards down. No need to strain yourselves trying to enumerate all the best physical characteristics of an NBA player. Just display a full body length photo of LeBron James, and you're done.
"He's going to make a lot of money in this game, and it's because of that body," then-Los Angeles Clippers scouting director Barry Hecker told me when we ran into each other before an ACC basketball game in January of 2002. "He looks like a full-grown man, a power forward, but he runs and passes like a guard."
James, then a high school junior, had turned 17 just days before. The following month, on Feb. 18, 2002, Sports Illustrated ran a photo of James on its cover, proclaiming him "The Chosen One." Of course, SI had given the same treatment to Felipe Lopez a few years earlier, and we all know how that turned out. But as Hecker noted, James already had what pro scouts call "an NBA body" way back then. Unlike most other high school phenoms who get hyped beyond all reality, James hasn't disappointed. He's been everything he was foretold to be, and more.
But if it's guard skills you are looking for, James' name comes up again. Despite the fact his 22nd birthday doesn't arrive until Dec. 30, well into his fourth NBA season, James carries a career assist average of 6.6 per game. Whether he is out front initiating the Cavaliers' offense, kicking the ball out to an open teammate over a double team in the post or whipping a pass to a free shooter in the midst of one of his explosive drives to the basket, James exhibits the passing acumen and court vision of the best point forwards. With apologies to Scottie Pippen, James may be the best passer from the forward spot since Hall of Famer Larry Bird.
Y! Sports: For Roy Hibbert, a sense of ownership means knowing he should have fought to get in the game with two seconds remaining in overtime, when his absence allowed LeBron James to hit the winning lay-up.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Is Howard fit for Los Angeles?
DPS: NBA analyst Kenny Smith joins Dan Patrick to discuss the Clippers’ coaching drama and if Chris Paul orchestrated the firing of Vinny Del Negro. Smith also believes Dwight Howard is trying to grab headlines in Los Angeles, and wonders if LA is the right fit for Howard.
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.