LeBron James is either toying with the Toronto Raptors or is so good that he just appears to be toying. Not content to destroy them with his right hand, James busted out a left-handed jumper in the final minutes of Game 3.
James, a natural lefty in all other facets of life, was asked how he came to be right-hand dominant in basketball. His answer?
He wanted to be like Mike — and Penny.
Clearly, shooting with his “off” hand has not hampered James, who will go down as one of the greatest of all time. It’s hard to imagine he’d be any better if he’d idolized Stacey Augmon or David Robinson instead of Michael Jordan.
But it’s worth wondering how effective a player he’d be if he were forced to use his left hand for his primary dribble and shot now, suddenly, at the age of 32.
Would he look like a mere mortal or would he still perform at an All-Star level?
Through seven playoff games, James is averaging 34.3 points, 9 rebounds and 7.3 assists. Even cutting those totals in half would be an impressive stat line (17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists).
My gut says he’d do even better than that. For one, his rebound totals would stay close to the same. Most are of the two-hand variety anyway and James seems to have no issue going up with solely his left. Let’s say he loses two per game and dips down to seven.
Scoring-wise, his production would certainly take a hit. James has rediscovered his outside shot of late which is just icing on the cake for his ability to get buckets. There’s ample evidence of his ability to post up and score and finish with his left around the rim. His three-point ability could be entirely sapped and his free-throw shooting would suffer. Even with that, I believe he has the athleticism and guile to be a 20-point per game player with his left.
Playing left-handed, though, would have a drastic impact on James’ ability to drive and dish. He makes so many passes that require the zip only he can provide. Using his off hand would mean less power and less speed. It’s not unreasonable to think he could dip down to three assists per game.
So what do we have? A player averaging 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game while also providing excellent defense (not impacted by the switch)? Every team in the league would sign up for that.
Perhaps I’m overestimating James. Perhaps his shooting percentage would dip into the low 30s. Perhaps he’d be a target for intentional fouls after bricking free throw after free throw.
Then again, it’s LeBron. Doubt him at your own peril.
What kind of player would Lefthanded LeBron be? Probably an extremely productive one.