LeBron James, Joakim Noah & the Art of the Perfect Airball

Among the highlights of last night’s NBA actions, two stood out for me: LeBron James missing a free throw and by missing I mean air-balling it, or Joakim Noah, who is becoming more and more embarrassing offensively, air-balling a wide open jumper in a New York Knicks loss?

Lebron james vs rockets

Personally, I feel LeBron’s miss is worse. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter as much. The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Houston Rockets 128-120, and James was probably the best player on the floor, finishing with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. James doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses, but free throw shooting at times is one of them (63.3% this season, 74.4% career). His air-ball didn’t even touch the net, which hints that the ball may have slipped out of his hand. Or maybe he was still giddy about making fun of the Warriors at his Halloween party and lost concentration.

At this point, making fun of Noah’s jump shot is too easy. It’s clearly something that isn’t going to change, and although he’s left wide open from mid-range quite often, he’s never going to become one of those big men that’s dangerous to leave open. However, Noah has continued to regress as a scorer since his peak season in 2013-2014. He’s either lost all confidence in his shot, or forgot how to throw the ball. He’s still very good at distributing it and probably the best passer on the Knicks, but too many times he makes it easy for opponents defense to set up, knowing him shooting the ball is almost a guaranteed miss.

Surprisingly, he’s shooting 42.9% from the field this season, scoring 2.7 points per game. He finished with just 2 on 1-for-4 from the field as the Knicks lost 102-89 to the Detroit Pistons. Noah added 12 rebounds and 8 assists, so far impressing in everything but scoring during his 24 minutes per game, but unless the Knicks find a way to make him more useful offensively, lineups with him will continue to be a problem when they have the ball.

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