LeBron James was dominant during the 2016 NBA playoffs. After all, James won his third NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers at the conclusion of the 2016 NBA Finals. Stanley Johnson remembers how powerful James' on-the-court influence was when the Cavs faced the Detroit Pistons in a first-round playoff matchup.
“I don't believe Stan Van Gundy got out-coached in that series,” he said on the Run Your Race podcast, per Tidal League. “LeBron out-coached the team on the court.”
When LeBron out-coached the Detroit Pistons in the 2016 playoffs 😅
“I don’t believe Stan Van Gundy got out-coached in that series. LeBron out-coached the team on the court.”
– Stanley Johnson
— Tidal League (@TidalLeague) September 26, 2023
Johnson elaborated on James' tactics. He claimed that LeBron would force Reggie Jackson to switch and guard him for a favorable matchup, despite the Pistons attempting to “hide” Jackson. James' relentlessness and strategy helped the Cavs win the playoff series.
This is not the first time James' basketball awareness has been praised. Draymond Green has faced James multiple times in the NBA Finals. He describes James' IQ as “next level,” a skill that most players with his size and athleticism lack. Clearly, Cleveland greatly benefitted from James' on-the-court coaching ability. How can the Cavs gain a similar presence in the modern day?
Players with exceptional basketball IQs do not come often. Cleveland is a team that could use additional veteran presence to strengthen its on-court strategies. One obvious player who aids Cleveland in that respect is Tristan Thompson. In 2016, Thompson won a championship alongside James. As a free agency signing for the Cavaliers, he aims to be a source of knowledge and experience to help push a young Cleveland team to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Stanley Johnson, of course, was accurate in his take. A player with an excellent basketball IQ is hard for any coach to compete against, especially when that player is LeBron James.