What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak?

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What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#1 » by Pelly24 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:52 pm

It seems like it's almost a consensus that MJ had a better peak impact than LeBron—I think this is balanced out a bit by LeBron's size and playmaking which I think potentially more valuable in more situations—but I'm wondering, what are the qualities that made 1990-1993 MJ better than LeBron's ever been? (for the thread's purpose, I'm saying it is the case)
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#2 » by Texas Chuck » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:55 pm

It's not a consensus fwiw.

But when a sizable group of people look at peak all they are really looking at is scoring. And so if we look at just scoring, the argument for Mike is there to be made. But we almost never include Bill Russell in peak discussions even though he clearly belongs because he didn't score a lot. It's always Mike and Shaq.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#3 » by Heej » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:57 pm

I'll only come down to shot making/foul drawing and maybe individual defense (which I 100% disagree with being in Jordans favor). Everything else LeBron has Jordan handily beat.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#4 » by nbhadja » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:04 pm

Nothing. Lebron is better.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#5 » by Cavsfansince84 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:06 pm

Mainly just the consistency of his mid range shot. It could also be argued his will to win was greater or something like that which combined with his overall scoring ability allowed him to take over games more consistently when things were close.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#6 » by Eddy_JukeZ » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:10 pm

The question is a bit tricky, because there's a consensus MJ peak. That's his 91 season.

Lebron doesn't have a consensus peak.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#7 » by 1993Playoffs » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:15 pm

I think LeBron arguably had the better peak imo.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#8 » by magicman1978 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:08 pm

Eddy_JukeZ wrote:The question is a bit tricky, because there's a consensus MJ peak. That's his 91 season.

Lebron doesn't have a consensus peak.


I think this is where I struggle to compare the two on peak. I see 91 as Jordan's peak and 12/13 for LeBron is you account for the full season. LeBron peaked higher in the playoffs in his second Cleveland stint (primarily on offense), but he was coasting a lot in the regular season. He was amazing in 16 and 18 in the post season and I would listen to arguments that he peaked higher at certain times on a game-by-game basis. But Jordan was more consistent at his peak - primarily if the regular season is included.

So 16-18 LeBron, while arguably better marginally than Jordan in the post-season is not anywhere close as a regular season performer. 12/13 LeBron was a better defensive player, but still have weaknesses offensively - giving Jordan a slight advantage. So what made him better at his peak? I would say consistency for the full season.

Based on career value - LeBron has that in the bag, but would love to hear more detailed arguments on how LeBron beats Jordan on peak vs peak.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#9 » by picko » Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:24 pm

Nothing. Their respective peaks are almost identical from an impact standpoint.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#10 » by Heej » Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:33 pm

magicman1978 wrote:
Eddy_JukeZ wrote:The question is a bit tricky, because there's a consensus MJ peak. That's his 91 season.

Lebron doesn't have a consensus peak.


I think this is where I struggle to compare the two on peak. I see 91 as Jordan's peak and 12/13 for LeBron is you account for the full season. LeBron peaked higher in the playoffs in his second Cleveland stint (primarily on offense), but he was coasting a lot in the regular season. He was amazing in 16 and 18 in the post season and I would listen to arguments that he peaked higher at certain times on a game-by-game basis. But Jordan was more consistent at his peak - primarily if the regular season is included.

So 16-18 LeBron, while arguably better marginally than Jordan in the post-season is not anywhere close as a regular season performer. 12/13 LeBron was a better defensive player, but still have weaknesses offensively - giving Jordan a slight advantage.

Based on career value - LeBron has that in the bag, but would love to hear more detailed arguments on how LeBron beats Jordan on peak vs peak.

That's where I'm at in the discussion. Pretty much similar value in the playoffs just there's more peaks and valleys with LeBron. He has higher ceiling games and lower floor games. LeBron is prone to having "feel-out" games and other games where he's not going into his final gear while Jordan played every game like that.

LeBron adapts to the opponent as the series goes on and figures them out while MJ keeps the same energy from the start to the finish and the opponents adjusted to him more. There's some work by Elgee that's supposed to come out on YouTube soon about how LeBron tends to play better in the second half of series while MJ tends to play worse. I can't help but think that's due to their stylistic approach and one player figures out the other teams gameplan while the other one just keeps it consistent doing the same kinda thing throughout and teams naturally adapt better to them.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#11 » by nolang1 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:19 pm

If you're just looking at it from an overall production standpoint, it would come down to MJ competing harder in the average regular season game over that period, which of course could also be used to explain MJ having a shorter career. But really most people who say it are just talking about LeBron not having 3 straight championships/FMVPs and defining 'peak' as 3 years for that reason.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#12 » by D.Brasco » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:22 pm

Cavsfansince84 wrote:Mainly just the consistency of his mid range shot. It could also be argued his will to win was greater or something like that which combined with his overall scoring ability allowed him to take over games more consistently when things were close.


The ironic thing is the mid-range shot in today's game has never been valued less. It's considered an inefficient shot today point blank.

If Jordan grew up 20 years later than he did I'm sure he'd do great in the league but I hold if you magically plucked 80s or 90s Jordan into todays game he'd be lost.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#13 » by Ainosterhaspie » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:25 pm

Jordan had a more reliable jumpshot. LeBron hasn't lost a series because of that since 2011, but you can point to that as the key advantage for Jordan over LeBron at peak. There wasn't a hole in Jordan's scoring game that could be exploited, there was in LeBron's.

But as I said, that flaw hasn't cost LeBron a series since 2011, so if you pick a peak after that point, it's based more in conjecture than evidence. You're assuming a flaw still exists despite lack of meaningful evidence to support that belief.

I dont think there's an area outside of mid range jump shooting, free throw shooting and perimeter man defense, where you can reasonably say Jordan was better at peak level. I think LeBron was the superior defender overall and in the most important ways, though not necessarily in every aspect. He's a superior passer, finisher at the rim and more unstoppable force getting to the rim and in transition.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#14 » by Ainosterhaspie » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:28 pm

D.Brasco wrote:
Cavsfansince84 wrote:Mainly just the consistency of his mid range shot. It could also be argued his will to win was greater or something like that which combined with his overall scoring ability allowed him to take over games more consistently when things were close.


The ironic thing is the mid-range shot in today's game has never been valued less. It's considered an inefficient shot today point blank.

If Jordan grew up 20 years later than he did I'm sure he'd do great in the league but I hold if you magically plucked 80s or 90s Jordan into todays game he'd be lost.

I don't know. Look at his 92 finals 3 point barrage. I think he'd adapt well. And despite the midrange falling out of favor, Kawhi used it to win a title last year. The spurs were giving it to LeBron in 2013. Even today I think it's important to be able to score everywhere, even if that shouldn't be your first choice. Look for the shots at the rim and from three, but be able to take advantage of what the defense leaves open.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#15 » by D.Brasco » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:35 pm

Ainosterhaspie wrote:
D.Brasco wrote:
Cavsfansince84 wrote:Mainly just the consistency of his mid range shot. It could also be argued his will to win was greater or something like that which combined with his overall scoring ability allowed him to take over games more consistently when things were close.


The ironic thing is the mid-range shot in today's game has never been valued less. It's considered an inefficient shot today point blank.

If Jordan grew up 20 years later than he did I'm sure he'd do great in the league but I hold if you magically plucked 80s or 90s Jordan into todays game he'd be lost.

I don't know. Look at his 92 finals 3 point barrage. I think he'd adapt well. And despite the midrange falling out of favor, Kawhi used it to win a title last year. The spurs were giving it to LeBron in 2013. Even today I think it's important to be able to score everywhere, even if that shouldn't be your first choice. Look for the shots at the rim and from three, but be able to take advantage of what the defense leaves open.


Kawhi has a great mid-range game but he's also a career 38% 3 point shooter, you can't just have a good mid-range game otherwise you're Demar Derozan.

I always hear oh well Jordan would have adapted to the 3-game, maybe he would have there is just no evidence of it in his actual career though. Yes he's had a game here and there where he was good but he never had consistency with that shot aside from the 2 years the league shortened it to around Jordan's mid-range limit distance.

His 3 point shot was up some years and then down the next, there was no linear progression of development. His 3-shot actually went down in his last years despite the 3-pointer becoming more important in the league.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#16 » by Leslie Forman » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:43 pm

D.Brasco wrote:If Jordan grew up 20 years later than he did I'm sure he'd do great in the league but I hold if you magically plucked 80s or 90s Jordan into todays game he'd be lost.

Yeah after seeing what Jimmy Butler just did…no, I don't think he would be.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#17 » by limbo » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:50 pm

You have to think MJ scoring peak was clearly better than LeBron's while also believing his playmaking and defense were underrated.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#18 » by Eddy_JukeZ » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:56 pm

D.Brasco wrote:
Cavsfansince84 wrote:Mainly just the consistency of his mid range shot. It could also be argued his will to win was greater or something like that which combined with his overall scoring ability allowed him to take over games more consistently when things were close.


The ironic thing is the mid-range shot in today's game has never been valued less. It's considered an inefficient shot today point blank.

If Jordan grew up 20 years later than he did I'm sure he'd do great in the league but I hold if you magically plucked 80s or 90s Jordan into todays game he'd be lost.


How can you say that after watching what Butler did in the finals?
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#19 » by Doctor MJ » Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:01 pm

Pelly24 wrote:It seems like it's almost a consensus that MJ had a better peak impact than LeBron—I think this is balanced out a bit by LeBron's size and playmaking which I think potentially more valuable in more situations—but I'm wondering, what are the qualities that made 1990-1993 MJ better than LeBron's ever been? (for the thread's purpose, I'm saying it is the case)


I don't actually think it's a given that Jordan's peak was better, but what is the case is that Jordan had a distinct edge as a scorer when they were both at their physical peak. Why? More explosive, better shooter, incredibly large hands. While in theory the rest of LeBron's offensive game could make up for that, I wouldn't feel comfortable arguing that it did.

Meanwhile defensively, Jordan was more explosive yes, but also with a considerably higher motor. You could attempt to argue that LeBron's brains made up the gap, but I probably wouldn't.

The thing that's really interesting though is that Jordan's game didn't age like wine like LeBron's has, for reasons that make a lot of sense: After Jordan lost his explosiveness edge, LeBron being bigger and strong, as well as smarter, really let him have a counter to everything a defense could throw at him in a way that 30+ Jordan just didn't. LeBron's been cheat-code level at offense in the playoffs basically since he made that come back against the 73-9 Warriors.

Defensively for later career before this year I'd have given the nod to Jordan quite handily. Now I'd say they're in the same ballpark and have to think LeBron could have been doing something closer to this in Cleveland had he seen it as worth the toll on his body. I'd say he did it this year to set the tone for how he wanted the team to be, and I do think the fact that Jordan was more intense through the regular season still gives Jordan the nod, but it's not the sizable gap in capacity I thought it was.

Adding that up to the total player:

I think 20s Jordan has the edge over 20s LeBron. Not by a ton, but by some.

I think 30s LeBron has the offensive edge over everyone in history.

I'm not entirely sure whether that offensive edge is enough to say he's better than Jordan was in '90-91, and I'm not even sure if it's enough to say he's better now than he was on the '12-13 Heat. Both comparisons are within the uncertainty range for me.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#20 » by DQuinn1575 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:03 pm

So MJ’s 91 team was better (1.5 SRS) then LeBron 2013 with a worse supporting cast. LeBron was never on a team with best season SRS and champion. So MJ was worth more value.

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