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Iman Shumpert on Luka Doncic-LeBron James comparisons: "I don’t see the same type of dominance"

Iman Shumpert claims LeBron James' athleticism makes him different from Luka Doncic despite many people claiming their games are similar to each other.
Iman Shumpert on Luka Doncic-LeBron James comparisons: I don’t see the same type of dominance

Fans likened Doncic to Harden and James, two players who are also ball-dominant and triple-threats on the floor every night. However, Iman Shumpert begs to disagree.

Comparing players from different NBA eras has always been one of the favorite topics of debate among the fans. Luka Doncic has been likened to many players from the past and present, such as Larry Bird, James Harden, and LeBron James. However, an ex-teammate of James shut down Doncic’s similarities with The King.

I don’t see the same type of dominance

Doncic’s game is a throwback to when the NBA was played at a slow tempo and deliberate pace. He is big but possesses the skills of a point guard. The Slovenian also needs the ball in his hands to become effective. With his skills in rebounding and creating shots for teammates, fans likened him to Harden and James, two players who are also ball-dominant and triple-threats on the floor every night. However, Iman Shumpert begs to disagree.

Iman and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland from 2014 to 2018 and won a championship together, so their bond is expected to be strong. The defensive-minded forward shrugs in disbelief when the Dallas Mavericks star is mentioned in the same sentence as his former Cavaliers teammate because of one reason: athleticism.

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“I just don’t see him (Luka) having the athletic edge that I have seen LeBrons, and Kobes, and Mikes have. That’s usually your breaking point, where it’s like you can do some freakishly athletic stuff nobody can do (anything) about. I just think after a while, somebody is going to stop the step-back stuff. It’s no way I can watch James Harden do that for that long and not win and then look at Luka like okay you gonna step back with your right hand but yours is gonna work. You can prove me wrong but I don’t see the same type of dominance of LeBron coming from Luka.”

Comparing LeBron and Luka

Part of what makes the L.A. Lakers star one of the greatest ever is no one could do the things he does on the court for a long time. He’s been dominating as soon as he entered the pros. James was like a freight train when on a fastbreak in his younger years. He lost some of that athleticism now that he’s older, but LeBron can still do it in some games. Shumpert is right to reject that Doncic is as good as James at 23 years old because the Mavs star is not and will never be as athletic as the Lakers star. Doncic’s dominance made other people already mention him in the same sentence as the other game greats, even at such a young age. We haven’t seen the best of him yet, or his ceiling, which makes the fans and Dallas front office excited about his future.

The similarities between the 23-year-old and the 37-year-old are more about how they play the game: they are very cerebral and always want to get others involved. So when you play against Doncic and James, you prepare your game plan around them, limiting them because no one could stop them from being productive on the floor, whether on scoring, passing, or rebounding.

Luka Doncic may not be athletic based on NBA standards, but he’s been able to dominate games despite it. And that’s what makes Doncic special, too. Can we say James would be as dominant without his athleticism? Probably no, because he would rely on his outside shooting more, which is still inconsistent today, but there is no question he would still be a solid All-Star player.

Luka is no LeBron, but fortunately, he still has a chance to carve his own path or maybe even surpass some of James’ achievements in the future. 

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