Since the days of Michael Jordan, there has always been the debate of whether or not an up and coming star could beat Jordan in a game of one-on-one. The hit film “Like Mike”, where youth basketball player Calvin Cambridge becomes “like Mike” glorified this debate even further.
Of course, for years, there was not a player who even played in the same realm as MJ, let alone beat him one-one-one. Enter Lebron James. King James burst onto the NBA scene in 2003 when he was the number one overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since being drafted, James has won four MVP Awards, two NBA Championships, and has been an All-Star eleven times.
Because of his talents and accomplishments, the new great debate is who wins in a one-on-one match-up between James and Jordan. If both players were in their prime and were to face off, who would come out victorious? That is arguably one of the best basketball debates of all time that compares only to the 2012 USA team versus the 1992 USA Dream Team debate. On top of being a great debate, the conversation sparked the idea to create this intriguing list.
The top fifteen NBA players who couldn’t score a basket against Lebron James in a game of one-on-one. We realize that King James may go down as the greatest player to ever live, but even then, most NBA players can fill up the stat sheet; even against Lebron. On the other hand, these 15 players have no shot of scoring and are likely to be shut-out 21-0. We kept the criteria for this list short and simple: players must be currently active in the NBA and struggle immensely at scoring. In our dream scenario, this game is played outdoors, without the assistance of referees and is played to 21. Here we go.
15. Jared Cunningham
Jared Cunningham gets the list started as he is in his fourth season in the NBA out of Villanova. Cunningham has played for five teams in his first four seasons and is hopeful to have found a home in Cleveland. In his career, he has averaged only 2.2 points per game while shooting 37 percent from inside the arc and an abysmal 32 percent behind it. Cunningham has decent size and is athletic, which is why he is only at number 15 on the list. However, his offensive skills are not close to an NBA level and he would be completely out-matched in a game against the King.
14. Ish Smith
Ish Smith is considered by many to be one of the fastest players in the NBA, but that would not do him much against Lebron James. The five-year veteran from Wake Forest has averaged 3.8 points per game in his career while shooting 39 percent from the field and an even worse 26 percent from deep. This is a complete mismatch as Smith checks in at 6’0 ft tall weighting 175 lbs in comparison to Lebron’s 6’8, 250 lbs. Because of Smith’s quickness, he is at number 14 on the list, but LBJ would prove to be too much against Smith.
13. Marcelo Huertas
Marcelo Huertas is an extremely interesting player. He played for years overseas in Europe and has just now decided to begin his NBA career. Huertas, now 32, is struggling to the adjustment that the NBA presents. He is currently shooting 31 percent from the field and a lack-luster 25 percent from three. Besides his poor numbers, he has been embarrassed on two separate occasions where he looked like he just did not belong in the NBA. Huertas comes in at number 13 because he has flashed a few moments of potential during his time in Europe, but he could not withstand the physical aspect of Lebron’s game.
12. Anthony Bennett
The former first overall pick has had an extremely rough start to his NBA career. He is on his third team in as many seasons and has looked utterly pathetic when given the chance to play. He shoots 25 percent from beyond the arc and only 38 percent from the field. His career average of 4.6 points per game proves his inability to score, but this inclusion on the list could be based purely off of confidence. Bennett has looked dreadful and unenthusiastic in his outings over the past year, which leads us to believe that King James would end this one-on-one battle quickly.
11. Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie Cauley-Stein, or Willie “Trill” Cauley Stein as his friends call him, has had a pretty successful start to his NBA career. Thanks to an injury to DeMarcus Cousins, he is getting to play more minutes than expected. Although this may be true, Cauley-Stein is still a miserable offensive player. He is an exceptional defender and an emphatic dunker, but is inept with the ball in his hands. Last year at Kentucky, teams were defending the 7’0 ft Cauley-Stein with 6’5 ft guards because he posed absolutely no threat to score. Cauley-Stein comes in at 11 on the list because he would be able to prolong the game due to his stellar defense, but Lebron would eventually be able to end this without breaking too much of a sweat.
10. Tyler Hansbrough
Tyler Hansbrough is one of the most decorated college basketball players to ever play, yet he finds himself on a lot of these infamous NBA lists. In his career, Hansbrough has averaged 7.2 points per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. Although these numbers may be the best on the entire list, Hansbrough has no ability to score in a one-on-one format. He brings in most of his buckets through an offensive set or a put-back lay up. There is almost no chance that Hansbrough has the offensive arsenal to take on Lebron James and score.
9. T.J. McConnell
The Philadelphia 76ers seem to have gotten a steal when they signed the undrafted free-agent from Arizona just before the season started. McConnell has proved that he has the prowess to be an NBA point guard. However, his isolation offense is inadequate to say the least. Thanks to his lack of size and speed, he has an extremely tough time creating his own shot, resulting in his shooting percentages of 42 percent from the field and 27 percent from three. Lebron would just present too much speed and too much power for McConnell to even have a look at the rim during this match, which is why McConnell finds himself at number 9 on the list.
8. Devyn Marble
Devyn Marble was an eccentric player at the University of Iowa who thrived on the ability to shoot at will. He became a volume shooter, meaning he took a lot shots, which turned into decent numbers for a collegiate basketball player. However, since he is unable to shoot at will in the NBA, his numbers have since decreased immensely. In two seasons for the Magic, Marble is shooting 29 percent from the field and 17 percent from three. These numbers, in limited playing time, give him 2.2 points per game in his career. Based on his inability to knock down contested and open looks, he comes in at number 8 on the list as scoring on LeBron would certainly pose a problem.
7. Phil Pressey
Phil Pressey put together a modest career at the University of Mizzou before entering the NBA. Since his NBA debut, he has averaged 3.2 points per game while shooting 34 percent from the field and 27 percent from the three point line. On top of that, he has been a turnover machine. This, combined with his stature (5’11 ft) land him on this list. There is just no feasible way that he would be able to get a decent look up on Lebron James, let alone make it.
6. Cameron Bairstow
Cameron Bairstow is a member of the Chicago Bulls and has just been irrelevant during his tenure in the NBA. Although he put together a mediocre college career at the University of New Mexico, his transition to the NBA has not gone as planned. In two seasons, he is shooting 22 percent from the field while averaging 0.6 points per game. For the gamers out there, Bairstow ranks as a 66 on NBA 2K, which is the third worst ranking in the game.
5. Ronnie Price
Ronnie Price is just bad. Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. But, in his career, he has averaged 3.6 points per game while shooting 37 percent from the field and an even worse 29 percent from beyond the arc. On top of his numbers, the eye test alone is all that is needed for Ronnie Price. If you need proof of Price’s struggles, head to google and type in “Ronnie Price awful dunk” and it will be self-explanatory.
4. Jeff Withey
Jeff Withey was a stand-out player for the University of Kansas before entering the NBA. Although he was considered a solid big-man, he always struggled at scoring the basketball. This struggle translated even more to the NBA. He has averaged 3.0 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field. He has shot a decent percentage, but it is merely because his lack of shot attempts and where his shots come from. He is one of the few players in the NBA that has almost every one of their buckets assisted or off of offensive rebounds. Basically, Jeff Withey is inept at creating his on scoring chance in a one-on-one setting.
3. Chuck Hayes
Chuck Hayes is infamous for his joke of a free throw during his stint with the Sacramento Kings. Wherever Hayes has played, he has always been utterly ineffective on the offensive side of the ball. In his career, he has averaged 3.7 points per game while shooting only 50 percent from the field. Although the 50 percent is not horrible, it is more to do with the fact he only takes 3.3 field goal attempts per game than him being a good shooter. He has no individual moves in his offensive arsenal, which lands him at spot number 3 on the list.
2. Joel Anthony
Joel Anthony has had an extremely exciting NBA career benefiting from the wonderful King James. Anthony has won two NBA championships thanks to the Big Three during his time in Miami. Now, Anthony is a member of the Detroit Pistons. Unfortunately, that does not bode well for the Pistons. He is averaging 2.3 points per game while shooting only 1.7 attempts per game in his career. He completely lacks the ability to score on his own, and therefore, will stand no chance in a one-on-one match-up against King James.
1. Tony Allen
Tony Allen may be one of the best defenders in the game of the NBA. Unfortunately, his offensive game comes nowhere close to his defense. In his career, he has averaged 8.1 points per game while shooting 26 percent from three and only 47 percent from the field. Although these numbers are not miserable, its the sheer fact that he can not score. Teams no longer even defend Allen when the Grizzlies are in the front court. Even when Allen has the ball, teams are willing to allow him the space to operate…because he just can’t. This game would take a decent amount of time, because Allen is such a good defender. However, it seems illogical to believe that Allen could score on Lebron James.
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