RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 (LeBron James)

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RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 (LeBron James) 

Post#1 » by trex_8063 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:26 pm

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OK, let's begin!
Just a reminder we're doing a ranked vote system, so I need your 1st choice, 2nd choice, and 3rd alternate (some arguments must accompany your 1st pick, at least). And if you're just making an appearance for the first time to this project, PLEASE READ THIS THREAD FIRST.

For ease of counting votes, please set your picks out separately from other large blocks of text and/or bold them to make plainly visible.

This thread will be open approximately 48 hours.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#2 » by Texas Chuck » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:43 pm

So I have 5 guys I see as GOAT candidates. 2 really strong ones, 2 I feel less good about, and Mike. Russell and Lebron seem to be entering this process the strongest candidates. And while I don't expect traction for either guy this early, I think Kareem and Timmy have to be in the mix. They were too good for too long with too much individual and team success to not be considered.

Tentatively I would have it as:

1. Lebron
2. Russell
3. Mike
4, Timmy
5. Kareem

I've always been a Russell is GOAT guy while acknowledging Lebron is coming. I think he's maybe there now.

I'm trying to be open-minded though so I'll hear arguments for Mike or anyone outside my top 5(I know in the past KG has gotten mention at #1 as well though I don't have him in that mix) before I cast a vote--if I cast one. Still not sure I'm qualified here.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#3 » by Odinn21 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:54 pm

I'll keep short and sweet.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Going by main criterias; his peak, average quality in his prime, his prime duration, his overall longevity, all them were there. I don't think he was necessarily better than James or Jordan on offense, but he was better defensively. What puts him above Jordan and James for me is that his intangibles. In an all-time draft, if I get #1 pick, I know that I'm getting him because he has the quality and longevity and also the leadership I'd want. Better than what I'd get from James and Jordan.
Longevity is one of the strongest suit of Kareem and James is certainly catching him. Though I'd like to remind that the time is different now. Kareem stayed as a force until his 39 in the '80s, not in the '20s. I wouldn't say James has to play on this level until his 39. Just saying Kareem doing that in the '80s should have some context value.

2. LeBron James
I find Jordan's peak and average level in his prime a tad better. But at this point, James' overall career value is just ahead. In terms of career value, James might be even ahead of Kareem. But between the two, Kareem's intangibles is the decider for me. Though I expect James to be the #1 in the next edition.

3. Michael Jordan
In terms of peak and average level of prime, what makes Jordan the best is him being the goat postseason scorer. I mean, Kareem and James are also great. Goat level great. But they are not still Jordan. Him having only 10 seasons of prime and no proper longevity hurt his case though.

Personally, I feel awkward leaving Bill Russell out of the top 3. No one won better and more than him. I don't have a certain goat, but in terms of single aspects, Bill Russell is definitely the goat defender. Also the goat winner. He's definitely one of the best leaders a team can have, probably the best. Interestingly, # of his quality seasons is bigger than Jordan's. If we look at box numbers, his last title in 1969 might not seem that impressive but if anything he did what Jordan did in 1998 playoffs, just on the other side of the game. He was the one that saved game 4 against the Knicks and possibly the series and the title. And it wasn't just one game like that.

Heck, I'm changing my vote for #3 and it's Bill Russell. I might even change the places between Russell and James, and vote for Russell at #2.
As for now;
3. Bill Russell
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#4 » by SHAQ32 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:42 pm

So just adding on what's already been said:

1. Michael Jordan
You obviously can't ignore the longevity argument, but I don't think it means as much here for two reasons. One, the second time MJ retired he was at the top of his game, winning MVP. Two, the circumstances with the Bulls front office played a major role in Jordan retiring. So in a perfect world, I like to envision the potential for another ~2-3 good Jordan years left at minimum.

MJ doesn't have the 2011 finals on his resume and keeping what I previously typed in mind, him winning all 6 titles for the same franchise outweighs the longevity advantage. (Edit: and this part is obviously directed at LeBron)


2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Relative to position, I disagree with him being better defensively than Jordan.


3. Tim Duncan
Even without the gaudy raw numbers, it still makes sense for TD this high. As far as being a big with all-time fundamentals and longevity, he's kind of like Kareem-lite. 5 titles, 15x all-defense, the records for 50+ win seasons, playoff/finals performances. Played in a super tough era for PF's and still is generally regarded as the goat at the position. But again unlike LeBron, did this all for the same franchise (a franchise that never won before, right JordansBulls?)
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#5 » by DQuinn1575 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:50 pm

I think the Top 11 are pretty consistent with most everyone,
Wilt, Russell, Jabbar, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Olajuwon, Duncan, LeBron, Shaq, Kobe
I havent done my list in order, so someone might squeeze in and get 10 or 11, but can't see anyone else getting a Top 3 vote. So let me start my logic -
I dont think that Magic, Kobe, Duncan, or Olajuwon were ever the best player in the league for an extended time, and can't call them the best ever as a result.
Bird just doesnt hold up in any argument against LeBron or Jordan
Shaq led his team to 3 titles, but WIlt has 2 and much more impressive stats, so Shaq is out.
THat leaves me with Wilt, Russell, Jordan, LeBron, Jabbar.
Wilt only won 2 titles, and the second had him as a shared one with West, 1.5 is so far behind the other 4 that he gets ruled out. And they are in 67 and 72, and I do have to give some timeline adjustment due to the available talent pool and discount those somewhat.
I havent mentioned Russell yet, but 11 titles, and in most he was definitely the best player. Yes, there is a timeline adjustment, and yes he had more help, but 11 out of 13, really out of 12 as he was hurt once. And yes, the time he lost Wilt beat him - so hang a loss on him.
I dont judge longevity a lot. It's a question of who was the better player, and Russell was like Alexander the Great who had no more worlds to conquer. Kareem playing seasons 14 and on not being the best player on his team doesn't do anything for me to judge him higher than the others.
LeBron has been fantastic, being one of the best players in the league for a long time. I'm not as high on him for 2020 as some, it was a shared title with AD, and in recent years Durant, Curry, and Giannis have all shown that maybe they are playing better or had better years. A couple of bad playoff series where his team didnt win hurt him here more than Russell or Jordan. Jordan's only bad playoff where they lost was 1995, and Russell 1967.
So Jabbar and LeBron won most of the time when they had a competitive team, but not always. Jabbar's team lost a few times as did LeBron when they probably had the best team.
I don't think Jordan or Russell ever lost when they had a team as good as anyone else. So that makes them 1 and 2.
And LeBron and Jabbar 3 and 4. Because being the best of all time includes making the team the best.
I think Jabbar was the more consistent and better scorer, at his peak the better defender, and the better rebounder. Obviously LeBron is a better passer, and really darned good in the other categories. So Jabbar goes 3 and LeBron 4.
Finally, Jordan was a better individual player than Russell. Russell obviously gets defense, but MJ everything else. And Russell had more help - he joined the best team in the league, and had Cousy, Sam Jones, and Havlicek - Russell would have won a lot of Finals MVP (The Bill Russell Award!), but not 11. All six of the titles were Jordan taking a team to the title, a few years with some good help from Pippen. But when it was close or they needed it he always got it done.

1. Jordan
2. Russell
3. Jabbar

4. LeBron (doesnt count for this)
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#6 » by Ainosterhaspie » Wed Oct 14, 2020 5:03 pm

1. LeBron
2. Jordan
3. Kareem


I really struggle with whether to put Kareem or Jordan at 2. It's a tension between longevity and peak/extended peak and how to weigh the two respectively. With these top three I see Jordan as the peak guy, Kareem as the longevity guy and LeBron as the guy who best combined the two. In the end, I lean Jordan over Kareem because his offensive game is more resilient, less dependent on others to sustain.

Jordan doesn't get enough criticism for lost years. If anything he seems to get credit for what it is imagined he would have done if not injured in 85, retired in 94, 99, 00 or had he come back earlier in 95. In reality he didn't contribute much in those seasons or in his Wizard years. His 15 year career was more of an 11 year career when looking at GOAT level production and that's giving his rookie year, as outstanding as it was, more credit than it deserves.

Kareem and LeBron both have several more years of that high end production which cannot be discounted, but rather move the needle significantly in their favor. They have peaks/extended peaks/primes (LeBron more so than Kareem) very near to Jordan's if not equal or even slightly better, plus those extra high level years.

--

I have Russell at 4. His achievements lose some luster for me because of the era and his loaded teams. Yes, his teammates wouldn't be viewed as highly but for the success of which he was the primary causal factor, but that does go both ways. In the end I think he had advantages with a smaller league, needing to win fewer games to win a title and having a heavily loaded team that have to be accounted for. His lackluster offense is another factor that makes me hesitant to move him higher.

--

Some things that stand out to me about LeBron. He's been all-NBA level for 16 years. No one else has managed to put up that many seasons at that high a level. Injuries and fading skills rob them of that. But he has been that best at his position almost his entire lengthy career. His draft class is out of the league and he's still vying for the best player in the league title. He's not just barely holding on to that distinction or riding his name to undeserved awards. He's a straight from high-school kid who took a year to get his bearings and from that point forward has been among the best in the league.

He's an elite defender who has won titles as his team's best rim protecter and perimeter defender. He's an elite playmaker. He's an elite scorer. Almost unstoppable at the rim in his younger days, and now he's added post game and a respectable three point shot to stave off decline due to lost athleticism and endurance. His consistent high level scoring perhaps is best exemplified by his record 16 consecutive years averaging at least 25 points per game. The next closest such streak is 11. That a huge gap. He's scored at least 1500 points every year of his career.

He's the only player with 30k/9k/9k. No one is remotely close to those cumulative numbers. No one else has even managed 20k/8k/8k.

Again, there's a consistency with him that no one else has achieved or really even come close to matching. He's among the best with his ability to score and among the best with his ability to playmake. He's among the best with his defense. He's among the best with his quality longevity which is arguably unmatched even by the likes of Kareem, Malone and Stockton. They did not remain in the conversation for best in the league as long as LeBron has managed to do.

That's why I have him as GOAT. No one else has consistently sustained such a high level of play and mastery of so many aspects of the game.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#7 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Oct 14, 2020 5:12 pm

Wow, okay we're starting then!

Alright, I don't want my first post to be a vote. While I'm really not sure if anyone is going to be able to post anything to sway me on the early threads because I've thought so much about it already, I did want to at least put my mind out there and the stuff I'm thinking about.

I'll begin with my 2017 vote - which to be clear, I'm not voting right now so don't count this!

In 2017 I voted: 1) Russell, 2) Jordan, 3) LeBron.

Approaching this in 2020 first...

On Russell

There isn't any athletic accomplishment I rank ahead of what Russell did. That's not to say it's necessarily greater than all other athletic accomplishments so much as that I think it deserves to be treated as at least the equal of all other such accomplishments.

I previously acknowledged that with the shifts in the game I don't think Russell would be the best player in today's game. I think he'd still be the best defensive player, but that you simply can't have the same type of impact with the spacing today. However the fact that Russell was so optimal in "playing it as it lies" made me generally conclude that it was fair to rank him above of more modern players.

Lately though I've been thinking about the fact that the modern game IS "basketball". As in, while the Russell-Wilt rivalry was a thing in sports media at the time, basketball was still a relatively minor sport and that didn't seriously begin to change until the '80s. And when it changed, it changed with a greater perimeter focus with guys like Bird, Magic, and Jordan as the focus.

And it changed again in the mid-2010s. I wasn't really thinking about it this way in 2017, but since then I've found myself thinking that if I'm only going to choose one player to represent basketball, I think it should be someone who represents the modern game.

And if I'm going to choose one guy over Russell, given the situation with Jordan vs LeBron, I think it might make sense to move both of them over Russell.

To be clear, in truth, I'll always see Russell as a 1B or 1C type guy if he's not 1A. There will never be a tier above him. But I'm feeling a pull to prioritize "modern GOATs" ahead of him.

On MJ vs LeBron

I've spent more time thinking about Jordan & James than Russell though. Russell's slot is going to be more about subjective perspective, MJ & LeBron are guys we can actually debate as to who would be better today.

Jordan obviously has the "success purity" argument. While it's wrong to say that he didn't have failures in his career, during his prime he had more consistent "all the way, all the time" success than LeBron, and anyone who votes for Jordan over LeBron from now to eternity, I get it.

What does LeBron have going for him? Beyond longevity with cumulative accomplishment, what he has is a claim to be someone who has won in more different ways and shown a greater ability to adapt to new surroundings. He has a track record of not "all the way" succeeding at first, but eventually getting there. While that may not sound like something that special to some, here's something I've been chewing on:

I tend to see sport evolution from a perspective of business growth curves.

Image

Basically, there are particular points in time where growth happens rapidly, and when you see someone maintain their dominance through that rapid growth, this is incredibly impressive and - I'll emphasize - particularly hard to do.

I've long said that Russell represents an S-curve dominance like no one else in the game's history.

As I do more research in the pre-NBA times, I see Tarzan Cooper as someone like this as well, but he's less impressive than Russell.

I've come to realize that I think we're now experiencing a new S-curve type growth beginning in '04-05 and still climbing in 2020. The playoff gauntlet with tactical adaptation is just not like what we saw in previous generation, and I think it's literally making it harder to stay on top than it was not simply in Jordan's time when strategical norms were more static, but even beyond Russell's time when there were a small number of teams, a small number of elite talents, and rather primitive coaching tactics.

At this point I'd say that if my assessment of what LeBron's done through this year remains, I'd put him above Jordan.

BUT, LeBron's story is not yet done being written. If, for example, LeBron and the Lakers come back fully healthy next year and in the playoffs hit an opponent with a strategy that makes me see this year's title as a "you can't win that way any more because of X", as opposed to the better-than-most-champs-no-matter-how-you-view-it level I currently see the Lakers, then Jordan will probably be the one who goes down as the modern GOAT for me ahead of LeBron.

To put another way: Players who are still playing still have a major uncertainty range for me in a way that retired players don't. I can change my opinion about a retired player, but the facts are what they are. But when we're viewing what a guy did in 2020, it's going to help to look back with a few years of distance. When we have it, I may have LeBron higher than Jordan, or I may have Jordan higher than LeBron.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#8 » by Ainosterhaspie » Wed Oct 14, 2020 5:16 pm

SHAQ32 wrote:So in a perfect world, I like to envision the potential for another ~2-3 good Jordan years left at minimum.

This sounds like you are giving him credit for imaginary achievements. The fact is he didn't play those extra potential good years. He had 10 maybe 11 elite years, not 12-14. He didn't win 8 straight titles or 10 straight as people imagine he would have had he not quit the game. He quit the game. He lost in 95. He didn't play in 94, 99, 00. Those are inarguable facts. He deserves 0 credit for what he theoretically could have achieved if he hadn't quit.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#9 » by Dutchball97 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 5:18 pm

Kareem had an insane peak in the 70s but it's a bit unfortunate that most of his individual success and team success didn't quite correlate with each other. He was the clear best player in 1971 and I'm also confident on 1980 but (and I hope I don't sound disrespectful here) I see Magic as the better player for the 82, 85, 87 and 88 titles. It's not a huge knock but it is what ultimately keeps him from taking the top spot on my list.

I think Bill Russell is someone who will forever deserve to get mentioned in GOAT debates. He won 11 titles in 13 years, being the clear best player on his team for 8 of those. Even in 57, 68 and 69 when it's not so clear anymore he still has an argument to be the best player on the Celtics. Everyone knows about Russell's insane team success but his individual accomplishments are underrated. He's a 5 time MVP and got serious consideration for the award in 6 more years. There are a few things to consider though. While not as unbeatably strong as sometimes told, the Celtics had the best coach and always had very deep teams. Russell not being a very good scorer in an era with some of the highest scoring seasons ever while Kareem, LeBron, MJ and even Duncan are more complete 2-way players makes it hard for me to put Russell first.

I do consider Tim Duncan and Wilt Chamberlain fringe GOAT candidates as well. Duncan leading the Spurs to the most insane 15 year stretch in the modern era, just having them as a serious contender year in year out gives him a case. Wilt is just the most dominant player ever when we're going off the scoreboards. I'm not as high on Wilt as some others but scoring 50 ppg over a season is still something that we shouldn't too readily dismiss. It also helps that 03 Duncan and 67 Wilt are some of the best peak seasons ever as well.

In the end I'm going with the safe choice of MJ and LeBron at the top of my list. Their careers are similar in a lot of ways and I don't think anyone else has a better combination of individual dominance and team success than these two guys. LeBron has already played more seasons than Mike and if he continues at his current level for a year or two more I'm pretty sure he'll take the top spot on my list but for now I still see MJ as the GOAT. I think MJ's early years before the championships were ever so slightly more impressive than Bron's pre-championship years. I don't really penalize LeBron from hopping teams but what keeps him from the #1 spot are his relative down years whenever he joins a new team (2011, 2015 and 2019). MJ also had something mythical in the 90s that LeBron doesn't quite have imo. The Bulls were the best team in the NBA for pretty much the entire 90s and MJ was the best player in the league for that same period. Barkley won MVP in 93 and Jordan beat him dominantly in the finals, Karl Malone won the award in 97 and he had the same fate as Barkley. Lost to the Shaq/Penny after returning in 95, got fully back into basketball shape and swept the Magic the next year en route to another title.

Votes:
1. Michael Jordan
2. LeBron James
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#10 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:10 pm

A note on Kareem:

While I totally get and respect the argument for Kareem above the guys in my Top 3 (Russell, Jordan, LeBron), and while I expect Kareem to be my #4 vote if he's still around at that point, I tend to have less faith in his impact that those other guys.

What do I mean by that?

Kareem just didn't have a defensive impact anything like Russell. He was an excellent defensive player but seeing him as "almost Russell" is inappropriate from my assessment. Russell played defense in a way that you can only play if you're lightning quick both physically and mentally. Kareem is a heavy weight intellectual, but he's quite deliberate.

And on offense, as amazing as Kareem was, I just think that you have to be able to handle the ball on the perimeter to be a truly top tier offensive player in a world where goaltending isn't allowed. In any given year it's possible for interior big man to have the most offensive impact (it's rare but it can happen), but such players are forever at the mercy of their perimeter teammates.

While you can argue that by 2-way play Kareem is overall ahead of these 3 other guys, I think in practice Kareem's lift was an incremental thing while the other guys were more transformative to their team's play.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#11 » by Joao Saraiva » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:13 pm

Votes
1. LeBron James
2. Michael Jordan
3. Kareeem Abdul-Jabbar


LeBron James
He has become the perfect combo of peak, prime and longevity. He's the guy I have going head to head against Michael in peak and prime. He has now entered the KAJ realm of longevity. That alone makes a case for him.

He is the most versatile player I've ever seen. On offense:
- Played PG, SF and PF. All at elite level;
- Has adapted to playing with D. Wade controlling the perimeter and be focal point on offense in the post;
- played with no actual system in his 1st stint in Cleveland and he made them one of the top offenses in the league;
- played PG with the Lakers,
- As made wonders as a floor raiser. Proved he could adapt to any type of player: Wade as a slasher, Davis a big man, all type of shooters, Irving as a perimeter player alongside him, etc.

There is actually enough situations for evaluation that makes me say he can adapt to any type of roster. On defense... the same:
- been elite in the periemter guarding guys like D. Rose in 11 or Murray vs Denver;
- been elite guarding post players like Pau Gasol or Adebayo;
- has won 3 tittles as the main rim protector of the squad in Miami and Cleveland.

He has a little less accodales than MJ (1 less MVP, 2 less FMVPs, 1 less DPOY) but he is getting closer. I don't put too much weight on that to be honest.

Has been consistent to say the least. Dude has been a top player (at least top 5) since 2005 or 2006, and has been probably the best in the world since 2008 or 2009. He doesn't have many black marks in the playoffs. Only once for the way I see it vs Dallas. That is the other argument I see for MJ over him, or Russell. However after 15 years on top I can't fault him for one series anymore, given the longevity edge he has over anyone not named KAJ or Duncan (among the top 10).

So for now I'll sum it up:
- top player in peak, prime and longevity; (tier 1)
- most versaility ever both on offense and defense. In all situations he has done extremely well;
- A lot of consistency, even if not the GOAT in that regard, I see him close to that;
- Elevates his performance in the playoffs overall.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#12 » by trex_8063 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:14 pm

As noted in my post in the Criteria Thread, my criteria revolves around the principle of total career value [above replacement level]. It's very similar to a "wins added" or "championship probability" in principle.
Based upon that, here's who I'm going with....

1st choice: LeBron James
Much of what follows is framed in a Lebron v MJ manner [despite how much I typically hate this debate]. That's not to be disrespectful to other candidates (KAJ, Russell, etc), but simply because I suspect this to boil down to LBJ v MJ for many.
I tentatively moved LeBron into at least a 1a/1b/(1c) situation with Jordan (and Kareem) after his '18 campaign. '19 gave me just enough comfort to single him out into #1 all by himself. Even though '19 was an injury year and missing the playoffs, he was still All-NBA 3rd Team [and *legitimately so].
*I did a once-over on that year, and even in light of missed games and lack of playoff sample I still rated him as having a top 15(ish) season that year, and I could not come up with six other forwards I'd rank ahead of him for the rs alone.

Now with what he's done in '20, he becomes the somewhat easy #1 pick for me. His resume is just so robust; in some areas almost comically ahead of ANYONE else.

From a statistical standpoint, his volume and efficiency numbers [for peak, prime, and career] can stack up to literally anyone else on the table.
He's got the 2nd-highest career PER of all-time (just -0.42 behind Jordan). Hollinger created PER somewhere near the early 2000's [AFTER Jordan's Chicago career], and to some degree engineered it for Jordan to come out #1 (or at least used whether or not MJ was #1 as the "acid-test" of its validity).
Lebron's career came after this "validity" was established, has played nearly 3 more seasons (193 more games, >7500 more minutes), and still sits right beside him all-time (shares a similar relationship in the playoffs: just -0.19 to Jordan's career mark, and more than +2 over ANYONE else who's played in the NBA in the last 60 years).

In terms of career value above replacement as measured by PER [let's call 13.5 a replacement-level PER], he'd be #1 all-time in both rs and playoffs.

He's moved into 3rd all-time in career rs WS (KAJ is 1st; Jordan is 5th, fwiw).
He's 1st in playoff WS by an almost silly margin: the gap between #1 [Lebron] and #2 [Jordan] is larger than the gap between #2 and #12 [Bird]; it's more than 8 times the size of the gap between #2 and #3 [Duncan].

He's 2nd to Jordan in career BPM (for both rs and playoffs, with no one else particularly close, especially in the playoffs). fwiw, until they arbitrarily changed the BPM formula [less than a year ago, iirc], Lebron was actually 1st in both rs and playoffs, Jordan was 2nd.
Regardless, in VORP (which is a sort of cumulative accounting of BPM [above replacement level]), Lebron is #1* all-time in both rs and playoffs, and again by pretty sizeable margins.
*although should be noted BPM is not available prior to '74.


But those are just stats. Maybe they're empty stats, as some would like to argue.
Trouble is: making those kinds of arguments hollowly is harder to do these days [in the data-ball era]. We have RAPM [my preferred measure of impact] for the last 24 seasons; there are other metrics (such as WOWYR or RAPTOR, etc). All of them sort of paint a similar picture.

Lebron's peak RAPM [even in scaled terms] stacks up as comparable to ANYONE's in the last 24 years, and his best 3-5 years combined exceeds ANYONE (especially when weighted against minutes played: because these are rate metrics). And when we look at larger samples of years, such as best 10 or 12 years of RAPM combined.......there is literally no one particularly close to him when weighting those against his minutes.
In short, he emerges on a tier unto himself as the clear single-most impactful player of the last quarter century.

In more coarse measures of impact [like team success] he looks dominantly impactful as well:
*career .639 rs win% (.663 win% when he's active, .333 when he's out)
**career .662 playoff win% (and that now on more playoff games than anyone in history)
***more playoff wins than anyone in history
****39-10 (.796) playoff series record
*****10 finals appearances and 4 titles (and now in the WC, too)---->critics have tried to lobby that you give ANY superstar a cast as good as what Lebron's had, and they'd get to the finals too (especially in the East). But I feel like this season has sort of busted this myth (that was already sort of busted, really). Kawhi this year had a cast that was better than what Lebron had in '07 (or any of the first seven seasons in Cleveland), '14, '15 (considering Love missed everything after the 1st round and Kyrie missed most of the finals; they frankly may have been a better cast ANYWAY), and '18 [imo, arguably better than '16 or '17, too]; but he fell short of even making the WCF.
Giannis had a better supporting cast that some of those years, too, but fell short [even in a Lebron-less East]. Although I think Jayson Tatum is sub-superstar level, I'd otherwise point out he had a cast that was MUCH better than what Lebron had in most of those title years, too. (EDIT: not necessarily saying Boston was a "super team" this year, though that'd ONLY be because Tatum himself hasn't achieved "superstar" status yet. But a supporting cast of Kemba, Brown, Smart, Hayward, Theis, a fantastic coach, and 2-3 other decent bench role players behind would probably be the best supporting cast Lebron's ever had).

Plainly put: it is NOT that easy to get to the finals, perhaps especially in this day. There are MULTIPLE "super teams" [God, I hate that term] in the league in any given year; but only two of them [maybe] make it to the finals, and only one wins.

In the process of aiding his team to the above playoff results he's now #1 all-time in playoff points scored by an utterly silly margin: Jordan [at #2] could have had TWO more Finals-length playoff runs averaging highish prime-MJ numbers (like 33-34 ppg).....and he'd STILL be in 2nd place. Think of all the prolific scorers who had both long careers AND consistently were in the playoffs, but who nonetheless couldn't catch MJ (Dirk, Kobe, Karl). Lebron not only caught him, but exceeded him by the kind of margin illustrated above. It takes not only scoring, but NOT GETTING ELIMINATED year after year after year, to the degree that no one else [obviously] has done to accumulate this kind of total.
He's also #1 all-time in playoff steals (again: big margin), and has now moved ahead of John frickin' Stockton for 2nd all-time in playoff assists. And he's 6th all-time in playoff rebounds (and is the ONLY non-PF/C anywhere in the top 9).

Where media accolades are important to anyone......
He's "only" got 4 MVP's [to Jordan's 5]; but then, if we're going to go by # of MVP's, it might be acknowledged that Russell also has 5, and Kareem's got 6!
And at any rate, Lebron----who in addition to his 4 MVP's is tied [with Bird] for the most 2nd-place finishes AND has more top-3 finishes than anyone----has now moved ahead of MJ for #1 all-time in MVP award shares as well.

He's also got 16 total All-NBA selections, more than anyone in NBA/ABA history (MJ has 11, btw).
He's got 13 All-NBA 1st Team selections, TWO more than anyone else in NBA/ABA history (THREE more than MJ, btw).
And what's more: all of these were legitimately earned. None of them are like DeMar DeRozan's highly questionable All-NBA 2nd Team nod.

And all of ^^^this in a very competitive era. This is actually the longest period of non-expansion in league history (early NBA days when it actually shrunk before re-expanding not withstanding; longest in the shotclock era, anyway): no expansion in the last 16 years, and only expanded by 3.4% [from 29 teams to 30] anywhere in the last 25 years.
Meanwhile the player pool has expanded A LOT in that quarter century: partly just thru population expansion, but also in growing global popularity (particularly in Europe, South America, and Canada)--->an international talent pool that the NBA has been increasingly willing to tap.

A counter-point to this could [and has been] that AAU programs have degraded the quality of that player pool. But this is at least partially off-set by the sheer numbers we're talking about. And then further needs to be noted that this is mostly only an issue of the US player pool, and not the international talent that I've referred to (which now comprises I believe >25% of the league).
Any way you slice it, there can be little argument that this isn't one of the most talented eras in league history (regardless of whether you like the current trey-spamming aesthetic).


2nd choice: Michael Jordan
At the time of the last project, I actually voted for KAJ ahead of Jordan. I've flipped back on that.
In terms of in-era cumulative production and impact, I do think KAJ trumps Jordan. BUT, there are a couple other factors to consider:
*the bulk of Kareem's career value occurred in the 70s (which undoubtedly was a less competitive era than that of Jordan's career). Scaling or tempering their respective career value and accomplishment against strength of league arguably brings MJ up to even with KAJ [imo].
**impact on the game itself [and BEYOND the game]. I mention this as a minor consideration within my criteria, fwiw.
Jordan was a global cultural phenomenon, who transcended even just "basketball fandom", and was arguably more important than ANY player (before or since) in driving that global popularity that I mention above.
He was quite simply "big" in a way that Kareem never was. And for me, I've decided it's enough to nudge Jordan ahead (if I assess them as roughly equal prior to this consideration).


3rd choice: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
My gosh, what a glorious history this sport has that any one of these guys has to come in only 3rd [or worse] on an all-time list!
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#13 » by Jordan Syndrome » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:15 pm

Ainosterhaspie wrote:
SHAQ32 wrote:So in a perfect world, I like to envision the potential for another ~2-3 good Jordan years left at minimum.

This sounds like you are giving him credit for imaginary achievements. The fact is he didn't play those extra potential good years. He had 10 maybe 11 elite years, not 12-14. He didn't win 8 straight titles or 10 straight as people imagine he would have had he not quit the game. He quit the game. He lost in 95. He didn't play in 94, 99, 00. Those are inarguable facts. He deserves 0 credit for what he theoretically could have achieved if he hadn't quit.


Jordan already played in a "perfect world":

1) Great coaches at all levels
2) Hall of Fame teammates drafted by the franchise which drafted him or acquired through the off-season
3) Healthy teammates throughout playoff runs

This all resulted in him getting 6/6 finals while having no late-playoff blemishes.

Compare that to someone like LeBron:

1) Outside of Spoelstra, mediocre coaches
2) Forced his way to talented teams as his drafted franchise was incompetent when building with some bad luck
3) Injuries to Wade in 2014, Kyrie/Love in 2015

I'm all for putting Jordan #1. I'm not in support, at all, of saying "Jordan could have been more in a perfect world!"...No.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#14 » by penbeast0 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:16 pm

Based on how dominant they were relative to their competition, discounted by a factor representing the strength of that competition I have:

1. Bill Russell -- the degree to which he carried his teams and the degree to which those teams dominated the NBA from the very first moment he set foot on the court until his final retirement is a strong measure beyond that of any other athlete to ever play in the NBA. The 60s were not as strong a league as today, probably not as strong as the competition Jordan faced, but Russell was far more dominant than either LeBron or Jordan. Enough more that I have him as #1.

2. LeBron James -- Of my top 5, LeBron did it in a much tougher league than Jordan or Russell did, and unlike those two, he did it in multiple situations (though he always made sure to get another superstar with him using the power of free agency). So I have him over Jordan, Wilt, or Kareem both for era and for that versatility.

3. Michael Jordan -- Jordan took longer to really generate team greatness rather than individual greatness but, once Phil Jackson came aboard, he did buy into the team system and produced extraordinary results.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#15 » by TrueLAfan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:29 pm

As far as I’m concerned, you’ve got Jordan, Kareem, LeBron and Russell as Top 4. I'll include all 4 here just because it gives a sense of context for the top 3. And I rank them:

#1: LeBron James
#2: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
#3: Michael Jordan
#4: Bill Russell


…with pretty tiny gaps between each.

Russell has the most success as a team leader, which is the ultimate accolade, He’s the most one dimensional, though—but that’s countered with the fact that

1) That dimension (defense) in critically important, and
2) His impact in that one dimension is, literally, unparalleled

My problem with Russell vs. LeBron (spoiler alert: will come up again) is longetivity. Russell was more of an iron man in terms of percentage of games played and minutes per game. But even so, LeBron’s peak period—which he’s still in—is a good 230 games longer. That’s three full seasons; close to 25% longer than Russell’s. The debate who is more valuable or has more impact on the court is interesting—but I just don’t think Russell gets/could get enough of an advantage in that type of analysis to overcome 230 games and counting. So, LeBron there.

Jordan is more problematic. IMO, Jordan has the highest peak of any player ever. Michael Jordan from 1990 to 1993 was better than any player to over walk onto the court. That’s just me, but that’s what I think.

Jordan’s 12 year peak was also incredibly strong—as strong as or maybe better than Kareem or LeBron’s. And he has a small, but critical bonus too—he simply didn’t miss games. Other than his injury year in 1986, Michael Jordan played in over 99% of his team’s games—considerably more than LeBron. And I think Jordan has more off-court impact than LeBron—although I largely don’t count that in terms of a “who’s better?” player discussion. So Jordan has some possible advantages.

But LeBron has the same peak length advantage as he did over Russell—it’s actually slightly greater. And, in this case, Jordan’s peak had/has a flaw—the baseball hiatus. More and more, I understand why Jordan took the break. His will and singular focus was unparalleled, but ultimately destructive. Jordan played angry and was permanently vengeful and, in a way, afraid of losing his standing; you just can’t have that much anger and revenge and fear inside you all the time. So part of what made him great made him do what LeBron and Kareem never did—take off. I look at Russell in 1969, who had his own share of issues—age, weakening team, racism—and the dude went back out there and won. Same with Kareem. After the 1985 season, Kareem didn’t say “Wow...that’s my fourth ring, and I got the Finals MVP, and I’m 37 and I’ve played the second most minutes in NBA history. I think I’ll call it a day.” He wanted more. You can’t discount the drive in either of those players—it was simply less self-destructive. So I drop Jordan for that and that shorter peak—enough to put him below Kareem and LeBron.

That leaves Kareem. We always talk about Kareem's longetivity. But, in this case, I think it’s a dead heat. Kareem was better longer; he was still a stud in 1986. And I think Kareem’s peak 12 year period (70-81) is as good or maybe better than LeBron’s peak 12 years. We’re splitting hairs here—you’re never going to have a conclusive answer. So the question is whether LeBron in 2004 and 2005 and the last three years, is better than Kareem after 1981. And, well, it’s tough. But I have to go with LeBron. Not that there’s anything wrong with Kareem after 1981—he got onto 5 more All-NBA teams, an All-D team, was in the top 5 of MVP voting three times, and top 10 two more times. I mean, he was great. He just wasn’t as great as LeBron, even if he played more games. That’s no insult to Kareem. But I figure that, sometime in the past year or two, by continuing to play at an MVP level and getting another ring, LeBron edged past Kareem.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#16 » by 70sFan » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:32 pm

I won't vote here, but if there's anyone who would like to take a look at some 1960s and 1970s players (mostly Russell and Kareem in that thread), I can share some games and clips of them that aren't available online. Not that it will have significant role, but for someone who would like to, for example, get the idea of how Russell played it could be significant. Or for someone who would like to see differences and growth of prime Kareem (I have quite a lot Kareem games from the 1970s).

Sorry if this post is useless here, but I would like to help anyone who want to gain knowledge about older GOAT candidates.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#17 » by Odinn21 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:38 pm

Jordan Syndrome wrote:1) Outside of Spoelstra, mediocre coaches

This is one of the things I don't like about James TBH. He's not entirely uncoachable. But he also is not someone like Kareem, Bill or Timmy.
David Blatt is one hell of a coach. And James wanted him out ASAP, he didn't even wait to see how well they'd together.
The only reason Spoelstra gets to mentioned like this is Riley stuck to his gun with the coach. James also wanted him gone even before the All-Star break.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#18 » by Jim Naismith » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:39 pm

A big part of LeBron's longevity is due to him skipping college.

Kareem would have done well in the NBA straight out of high school.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#19 » by Ainosterhaspie » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:43 pm

TrueLAfan wrote:More and more, I understand why Jordan took the break. His will and singular focus was unparalleled, but ultimately destructive. Jordan played angry and was permanently vengeful and, in a way, afraid of losing his standing; you just can’t have that much anger and revenge and fear inside you all the time. So part of what made him great made him do what LeBron and Kareem never did—take off. I look at Russell in 1969, who had his own share of issues—age, weakening team, racism—and the dude went back out there and won. Same with Kareem. After the 1985 season, Kareem didn’t say “Wow...that’s my fourth ring, and I got the Finals MVP, and I’m 37 and I’ve played the second most minutes in NBA history. I think I’ll call it a day.” He wanted more. You can’t discount the drive in either of those players—it was simply less self-destructive.

Really like this. It's something I don't think gets enough attention. Not that it should diminish Jordan's legacy, but that competitive drive while allowing him to reach the heights he did, wasn't sustainable. It gave him the highest of peaks, but at the cost of longevity.
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Re: RealGM 2020 Top 100 Project: #1 

Post#20 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:50 pm

70sFan wrote:I won't vote here, but if there's anyone who would like to take a look at some 1960s and 1970s players (mostly Russell and Kareem in that thread), I can share some games and clips of them that aren't available online. Not that it will have significant role, but for someone who would like to, for example, get the idea of how Russell played it could be significant. Or for someone who would like to see differences and growth of prime Kareem (I have quite a lot Kareem games from the 1970s).

Sorry if this post is useless here, but I would like to help anyone who want to gain knowledge about older GOAT candidates.


I'd like to specifically request that you do share stuff if you can do so without putting a ton of additional work beyond what you've already done.

I do feel like I need to be clear up front that I'm not sure how much time I'll have to actually watch right now, but having the option for people to know where to find video is something that may allow some folks to "level up".

I'm uncomfortable asking you to do much work here and now though because, as stated, I cannot guarantee that folks (myself or others) will use the resources to the extent they deserve to be used.
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