LeBron vs. Jordan
Originally published June 2011
I don't know about the fans out there, but this "LeBron vs. Jordan" subject has worn out its welcome.
In fact, it should never have been brought up in the first place.
I am not going to bring up the same debates I normally do about level of competition, tougher defenses, and just a tougher league in general, when defending Jordan over LeBron. It seems to be accepted knowledge by any NBA fan. Besides, that could be a whole book.
First and foremost, what needs to be recognized that LeBron is still relatively young and I always gauge great players by how they age. Think about LeBron at 34 with no lift, less speed, and still no post game, despite how great he is now.
This is what we must all ponder. Guys like Jordan, Kobe, Dirk, Kidd have survived at older ages with lots of veteran savvy.
Does LeBron have the ability to age like those guys?
Jordan won three of his titles at the ages of 33, 34, and 35, which is well past his prime. He was still averaging 21 ppg, 5 rpg, and 5 apg at age 40 with bad knees that needed to be drained of fluid. He was also 20lbs overweight and carried a Wizard team that was utterly terrible. The subject of aging never seems to come up when comparing greats. There are tons of greats that fizzle as they get older because the athletic ability is gone.
Sometimes I feel this comparison is spearheaded by people who weren't exposed to Jordan especially the late '80s, early '90s. That Jordan was unreal and out of this world. Perhaps, the ability to be great athletes is quite similar, but that seems to be it as Jordan was much more efficient of a player than LeBron.
LeBron James career scoring average is 27.7 points per game and he is well into his prime, where the scoring average will be at its peak.
As LeBron gets older, his career average will lower. It will most likely end up at about 25-26 ppg for a career--amazing, but compare it to Jordan who had a career 30.1 average. That includes his old man years with the Wizards. There is no debating this at all. LeBron is one of the most efficient scorers in this league. He shoots a high field goal percentage, something I ride players this generation a lot about. LeBron is at 48-percent for his career.
Again, this is great, as Jordan is 49.5-percent for his career, also gauged for old man years as well.
The brunt of LeBron's scoring is a drive, a fast break, or a forced, long jumpshot. He may do those things very well, but is limited on the floor scoring when compared to Jordan. Jordan could score from any spot on the floor and understands the art of the mid-range game and the value of the post. LeBron is three inches taller than Jordan and 50lbs more in weight, but Jordan is the better post player. Doesn't seem to make any sense, which shows you Jordan was the smarter scorer as well.
Do we need to even get into clutch scoring?
LeBron is at 7.1 rebounds for his career and Jordan at 6.2.
This stat is fairly similar and I will concede LeBron is a better rebounded--but not a smarter one. Jordan had to share rebounds with the likes of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Charles Oakley, and Dennis Rodman--who was grabbing 18 a game at one point. LeBron's rebounding numbers are inflated because he always has to get the boards. If the edge is given to LeBron here that is fine, but the gap is not as glaring as some might think.
LeBron for his career is at 7.0 assists per game and Jordan at 5.3.