What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak?

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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#41 » by Jim Naismith » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:58 am

toodles23 wrote:
Jim Naismith wrote:
Sublime187 wrote:
I expected more then this low level fodder type of comparison from you Jim....


This is just a variation of the well-known argument "nobody else ate while Jordan was in his prime."

A lot of people believe this, and I'm not unsympathetic to it.

It isn't even true though. Jordan was a much better player from 88-90 when he lost to the Pistons every year than he was during the 2nd 3peat. And of course he also didn't even play in '94 and lost to the Magic in '95.


I didn't say I agree with it completely.

Again this is the perception of continuity of 6 championships in 8 years vs. LeBron's 3 in 5 years (or 4 in 9 years).

For me, what sticks out is that LeBron's shooting (jumpers and free throws) is a weakness opponents targeted, even at his peak.
https://www.sbnation.com/nba/2013/6/12/4421720/lebron-james-spurs-vs-heat-nba-finals-2013

Jordan doesn't have such a weakness that opponents exploited.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#42 » by kayess » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:14 am

Doctor MJ wrote:
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.


Wow. do you mean everyone in their 30s in history, or everyone in history point blank?

FWIW, I'd tend to agree, especially the 2017/2018 versions where his jumpshot was consistent, and he can make every single pass or shot to beat the defense (whether it's just hitting Love over and over on the roll - LOLCASEY, or just hitting fadeaways without really trying to create much), but even as a fan it's just hard to think of someone being better than Nash or Magic at their peaks
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#43 » by LakerLegend » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:18 am

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.


Come on, this is completely laughable. Jimmy Butler is like....a stain on Jordan's shoe. That's how insignificant his skill and talent level is compared to Jordan.

Jordan really didn't play that long ago. Aren't there STILL players in the league who played against Jordan at some point? Wizards Jordan but Jordan nonethless.

It's just basketball.

It's not like you're trying to explain nuclear physics to Newton.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#44 » by 2klegend » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:25 am

No-more-rings wrote:
limbo wrote:You have to think MJ scoring peak was clearly better than LeBron's while also believing his playmaking and defense were underrated.

Pretty much yeah. Though MJ’s scoring peak was clearly better, because if you don’t give him that then he really has no argument.

To the other point, Jordan peaked at 8 rbs/8 apg in the regular season as wells as 7.9rbs/8.4 apg in the playoffs. He wasn’t as consistent as Lebron in those aspects, but it does sometimes seem people act Lebron was in a different class outside of scoring which doesn’t seem true.

Westbrook avg more reb and ast than Lebron, does that make Westbrook better at it? OR... is it just the style of their game and the league, in general, favoring guard grabbing rebounds for a fast break? When Jordan played basketball in the 90s you have 4 big strong dude battlling inside for rebound. In fact, a big main bread and butter to collect a paycheck is to box out. That's why you don't see triple-double as often as it is now.
My Top 100+ GOAT (Peak, Prime, Longevity, Award):
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#45 » by Lost92Bricks » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:32 am

limbo wrote:You have to think MJ scoring peak was clearly better than LeBron's while also believing his playmaking and defense were underrated.

All of this is true.

When MJ played point guard, he had 11 consecutive games with 10+ assists.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#46 » by No-more-rings » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:39 am

toodles23 wrote:
No-more-rings wrote:
limbo wrote:You have to think MJ scoring peak was clearly better than LeBron's while also believing his playmaking and defense were underrated.

Pretty much yeah. Though MJ’s scoring peak was clearly better, because if you don’t give him that then he really has no argument.

To the other point, Jordan peaked at 8 rbs/8 apg in the regular season as wells as 7.9rbs/8.4 apg in the playoffs. He wasn’t as consistent as Lebron in those aspects, but it does sometimes seem people act Lebron was in a different class outside of scoring which doesn’t seem true.

If you're going to cherry pick single playoff runs like that though then you could say Lebron peaked as better scorer. '09 Lebron was at 47.5 points/100 on 61.8 TS%, both of which are better than any playoff run of Jordan's career.

Of course cherry picking a single year is dumb when we're talking about guys that played full careers, but as long as we're doing that...

I thought i made it clear Lebron was more consistent in playmaking and rebounding. Just that Jordan had that capability too. Calm yourself.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#47 » by clearlynotjesse » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:44 am

Scoring and game-to-game consistency would be the things you have to give to Jordan. If you think the edges there are greater than the gaps on playmaking and defense, then Jordan would win out. I think the arguments for Jordan are reasonable on all fronts. It's splitting hairs, really.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#48 » by Heej » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:29 am

DQuinn1575 wrote:
Heej wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote: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.

League was weaker and Heat were flawed until they got Birdman


1. Why was League weaker in 1991?
2. Heat was flawed until they got their 9th man ? (based on playoff minutes played)

Pre-international influx. Unnaturally poor draft classes in the late 80s when you look at HOF and All-star talent produced. All time great teams like Pistons, Lakers, Celtics that due to poor luck and physical maintenance fell apart much earlier than they would have in the modern era. Even if they weren't title favorites the fact that those teams fell off so early made the league weaker.

Current league has way too much talent in all stages of their careers. Stacked amounts of young talent, comparable prime talent to any era, and plenty older talent that was holding on. The equivalent would be if teams like the Spurs and the Celtics being already completely wiped out in 2013. Now imagine that to lesser degrees throughout the NBA in terms of dearths of preserved talent from top to bottom and if entire classes of top end talent like 2008, 2009, 2011 just never appeared to push their teams into at least competitive playoff berth status during their precocious pre-primes.

Like in that case Kawhi Leonard never appears to buoy the Spurs into a new era just like what happened to the Celtics with Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. Just a whole bunch of stuff like that contributes to the league being much worse overall throughout the entirety of the 90s and the Bulls' SRS being comparatively inflated relative to teams in the 2010s

Also, clearly you don't remember that season but the Heat's biggest flaw was reliable interior rebounding and competent big man play for the regular season. They just had strange bad luck with bigs when you look at the revolving door of people they brought in. washed up Big Z, Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry iirc?, Greg Oden, Dexter Pittman. Pretty much just all trash. Birdman is a mere 9th man to you, to the Heat he was an integral missing positive piece that sopped up major minutes that were otherwise being used for negative impact players during the regular season. Which is why their SRS pre and post-Birdman are probably markedly different lol. Also Wade got injured during the streak, MJ had a healthy Pip in 91.

This is why context is important in most of these discussions; and coincidentally that's the first thing that goes out the door with casual fans. Can't just take blanket numbers at face value and try to extrapolate something from them. Gotta dig a liiiiittle deeper b
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#49 » by Snake3 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:53 am

I think in general MJ had less weakness in his game than LeBron has in his when it comes to the scoring aspect. MJ at his peak/prime would be like 88-91.

Statisically in advance stats, they are nearly identical I think, but MJ pulls slightly ahead in terms of PER. Plus/minus MJ would be ahead at his peak, but LeBron comes close. Defensively, it depends on how judge the stats. Guards in general have a less DRtg, but it's useless to compare across eras due to the rule changes I would think.

As I said before, MJ had less weakness in his game. He had a more reliable midrange jumpshot and more moves to create space in the half court set. More moves with the post up, off the ball movement, beating you off the dribble and pull up. Since he is so quick, he could play the passing lane and get back on defense. It's often a gamble and throw the defense out of balance, but whenever I see MJ do it I get amaze at how fast he gets back into position. And he is a great help defender. The only weakness he may have is the 3pt shot, but even though I wouldn't sag off him.

Miami LeBron worked on his weakness of the jump shot, post up game, off the ball movement and 3pt shot. While it wasn't as smooth or efficient as MJ, he was working on it. But his FT% was always a little bit of a problem. When it came down to the playoffs, his jumper went away. While it hasn't stop his team from winning, it made some series really difficult than it should've been. The Spurs in 2013 was one. It was rough 1-5 games. The Pacers series was rough too.

LeBron is more of rhythm shooter. So, he has limited ways to score in the half court set. But what he does so well is drive and kick out. And once he drives, he is so big, fast, and strong that nobody can property stop him. And he is the best finisher of a perimeter player I ever seen. I would figure he would stop doing this by the age of 30, since that's when most players athleticism goes down, but he keeps at it. While he did lose a step a bit, he is so smart and pick his spots very well. Not to mention his outstanding passing skills.

But this goes on to the rules of the game too. The rules to relax the defense on perimeter players, the emphasis on spacing, 3pt shooting, really helps out LeBron's style of game.

But basically, MJ at his very peak, had less weakness to exploit. And he the most consistent and was greater than LeBron at both ends. He was the best combination of skill and athleticism. It's shown through the impact of his game, and perimeter play wasn't as favored in the rules back then. And he was efficient before advance stats even really was thing.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#50 » by DQuinn1575 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:23 am

Heej wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote:
Heej wrote:League was weaker and Heat were flawed until they got Birdman


1. Why was League weaker in 1991?
2. Heat was flawed until they got their 9th man ? (based on playoff minutes played)

Pre-international influx. Unnaturally poor draft classes in the late 80s when you look at HOF and All-star talent produced. All time great teams like Pistons, Lakers, Celtics that due to poor luck and physical maintenance fell apart much earlier than they would have in the modern era. Even if they weren't title favorites the fact that those teams fell off so early made the league weaker.

Current league has way too much talent in all stages of their careers. Stacked amounts of young talent, comparable prime talent to any era, and plenty older talent that was holding on. The equivalent would be if teams like the Spurs and the Celtics being already completely wiped out in 2013. Now imagine that to lesser degrees throughout the NBA in terms of dearths of preserved talent from top to bottom and if entire classes of top end talent like 2008, 2009, 2011 just never appeared to push their teams into at least competitive playoff berth status during their precocious pre-primes.

Like in that case Kawhi Leonard never appears to buoy the Spurs into a new era just like what happened to the Celtics with Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. Just a whole bunch of stuff like that contributes to the league being much worse overall throughout the entirety of the 90s and the Bulls' SRS being comparatively inflated relative to teams in the 2010s

Also, clearly you don't remember that season but the Heat's biggest flaw was reliable interior rebounding and competent big man play for the regular season. They just had strange bad luck with bigs when you look at the revolving door of people they brought in. washed up Big Z, Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry iirc?, Greg Oden, Dexter Pittman. Pretty much just all trash. Birdman is a mere 9th man to you, to the Heat he was an integral missing positive piece that sopped up major minutes that were otherwise being used for negative impact players during the regular season. Which is why their SRS pre and post-Birdman are probably markedly different lol. Also Wade got injured during the streak, MJ had a healthy Pip in 91.

This is why context is important in most of these discussions; and coincidentally that's the first thing that goes out the door with casual fans. Can't just take blanket numbers at face value and try to extrapolate something from them. Gotta dig a liiiiittle deeper b


So the Top 11 that will be picked are probably going to be Russell, Wilt, Jabbar, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Olajuown, Duncan, Kobe LeBron,Shaq - dont know the order, but that's a pretty solid consensus.
So that is one active player considered an all-time great, and there is no single player who has better than maybe a 25% chance to make the list in the future - Durant will probably be highest right now, and he's probably an mvp/finals mvp away from making the list - no guarantee. Curry, Kawhi, AD - all pretty unlikely to ever be Top Tier. Giannis, Luka - maybe some day, they have a lot of ball still to play and I hope one or both of them do. Chances are somebody active will, maybe even two, but it means we probably went at least 10 years without an all-time great entering the league.
In the 90s active were Magic, Jordan, Olajuwon, Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, Bird - so 7 of the best 11 players of all-time played in this decade, which has got to be the most. For the last 4 seasons we have 1. Probably have to go back to 1979 to have a season with just one Tier 1 guy playing. For the 2010s you get 4, i'm not nitpicking Shaq or Bird, youre either in or out.
For every active Durant, Harden, Curry now you got Malone, Barkley, Stockton, David Robinson, so each year is going to have the great second level guys.


You're right - Anderson played great for Miami, ahd they had an incredible record with him. And he was the 9th man. Proves the point even more; the Miami
team was so good he could only play 14 minutes a game while the 91 Bulls had to start two below average starters in Cartwright and Paxson.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#51 » by Snake3 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:23 am

Doctor MJ wrote:
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.


I have a question. You don't think the rules and style of play benefit LeBron in this?

Like imo, it's not "just" the rule set. It's how coaching philosophy change. The style of drive and kick is more prevalent now than it has ever been. And it's easier to drive to the paint.

Like if you look MJ stats around the rim in 97 and 98, it's pretty bad in comparison to 2010s and above. In 97, he shot like 51% at the rim and in 98, he shot 62%. Compared to similar player like Kobe, around the same age, he shot 69% in both seasons in 12 and 13. But it shows something

MJ even at that age was more athletic than Kobe was. However, it's clear that MJ lost a step. I think in general it's easier to score for perimeter because the league is more designed that way. Like the FG% at the rim is higher than what it was in the 97-04. But it would be interesting to see the efficient of PG, SG and SF rim % post rule change and post 3pt revolution.

I feel like it's important to state the state of the league in the defense and offensive capability it was in their respective era than compare outright stats to stats or whatever. Judging skillset is a bit easier. Like MJ 3pt shooting being inflated in 95-97. And the overall FG% due to the league being much tougher to score with guards due to slow pacing, lack of spacing, and lack of 3 defensive sec.

With that said, I think LeBron athleticism had less of a drop of than MJ. But I do think that the reason why LeBron's game age like a fine wine is because LeBron's game is much more suited in today's format. He hardly take midrange jumpers anymore. It's just drive to the paint or the 3pt shot. It wasn't like that several years ago. Like in 2010-2013? It was headed to towards in that direction, but it wasn't as common now. Like when LeBron went to the Miami Heat, he specifically took less 3s to work on the midrange and post game. More old school style and concentrate on better shot selection. Then afterwards, it became more analytic.

MJ's game did age well. As you can still see ppl copying his style. It went to Kobe and that went to Kawhi and Tatum.Wiggins would do it sometimes. Imo, it's the footwork, the moveset, and the shot selection. Although not many ppl copy the shot selection as much anymore, they still do copy the footwork and some of the moves, and change it up a bit translate to their style or to fit today's game. Like MJ had more moves you could copy. LeBron is more crazy athleticism as well as passing game. He does moves, but less so than MJ.

But don't get me wrong, I think LeBron's game translate well too.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#52 » by Heej » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:33 am

DQuinn1575 wrote:
Heej wrote:
DQuinn1575 wrote:
1. Why was League weaker in 1991?
2. Heat was flawed until they got their 9th man ? (based on playoff minutes played)

Pre-international influx. Unnaturally poor draft classes in the late 80s when you look at HOF and All-star talent produced. All time great teams like Pistons, Lakers, Celtics that due to poor luck and physical maintenance fell apart much earlier than they would have in the modern era. Even if they weren't title favorites the fact that those teams fell off so early made the league weaker.

Current league has way too much talent in all stages of their careers. Stacked amounts of young talent, comparable prime talent to any era, and plenty older talent that was holding on. The equivalent would be if teams like the Spurs and the Celtics being already completely wiped out in 2013. Now imagine that to lesser degrees throughout the NBA in terms of dearths of preserved talent from top to bottom and if entire classes of top end talent like 2008, 2009, 2011 just never appeared to push their teams into at least competitive playoff berth status during their precocious pre-primes.

Like in that case Kawhi Leonard never appears to buoy the Spurs into a new era just like what happened to the Celtics with Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. Just a whole bunch of stuff like that contributes to the league being much worse overall throughout the entirety of the 90s and the Bulls' SRS being comparatively inflated relative to teams in the 2010s

Also, clearly you don't remember that season but the Heat's biggest flaw was reliable interior rebounding and competent big man play for the regular season. They just had strange bad luck with bigs when you look at the revolving door of people they brought in. washed up Big Z, Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard Erick Dampier, Eddy Curry iirc?, Greg Oden, Dexter Pittman. Pretty much just all trash. Birdman is a mere 9th man to you, to the Heat he was an integral missing positive piece that sopped up major minutes that were otherwise being used for negative impact players during the regular season. Which is why their SRS pre and post-Birdman are probably markedly different lol. Also Wade got injured during the streak, MJ had a healthy Pip in 91.

This is why context is important in most of these discussions; and coincidentally that's the first thing that goes out the door with casual fans. Can't just take blanket numbers at face value and try to extrapolate something from them. Gotta dig a liiiiittle deeper b


So the Top 11 that will be picked are probably going to be Russell, Wilt, Jabbar, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Olajuown, Duncan, Kobe LeBron,Shaq - dont know the order, but that's a pretty solid consensus.
So that is one active player considered an all-time great, and there is no single player who has better than maybe a 25% chance to make the list in the future - Durant will probably be highest right now, and he's probably an mvp/finals mvp away from making the list - no guarantee. Curry, Kawhi, AD - all pretty unlikely to ever be Top Tier. Giannis, Luka - maybe some day, they have a lot of ball still to play and I hope one or both of them do. Chances are somebody active will, maybe even two, but it means we probably went at least 10 years without an all-time great entering the league.
In the 90s active were Magic, Jordan, Olajuwon, Shaq, Duncan, Kobe, Bird - so 7 of the best 11 players of all-time played in this decade, which has got to be the most. For the last 4 seasons we have 1. Probably have to go back to 1979 to have a season with just one Tier 1 guy playing. For the 2010s you get 4, i'm not nitpicking Shaq or Bird, youre either in or out.
For every active Durant, Harden, Curry now you got Malone, Barkley, Stockton, David Robinson, so each year is going to have the great second level guys.


You're right - Anderson played great for Miami, ahd they had an incredible record with him. And he was the 9th man. Proves the point even more; the Miami
team was so good he could only play 14 minutes a game while the 91 Bulls had to start two below average starters in Cartwright and Paxson.

Lol youre just not getting it when it comes to how much deeper the league is. I don't feel like responding and trying to explain myself again.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#53 » by Ainosterhaspie » Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:46 am

Chris Anderson is such a telling player for how big an impact an easily forgotten role player can have on a team. A small hole can lead to big problems and the Heat, not just in 2013, but the whole time LeBron was there were weak at the five and other teams consistently capitalized on it. It's one of the biggest reasons they so rarely seemed to meet expectations.

Then in the middle of the year they get a guy who had been out of the league and they looked like a team on a whole other level. They rattled off the longest post merger single season win streak. They managed a 76 win pace for the second half of the season. And it was in large part because they finally had a guy who could give them a few minutes of actual effective big man play. Nothing flashy. No big numbers. No big minutes. Yet it made a huge difference. They were dominant.

Then Wade's knees gave out just in time for the playoffs and they were back to grinding out more difficult wins. It's amazing how big an impact bench players can have in a team's success. Way too easy to overlook.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#54 » by Doctor MJ » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:42 am

kayess wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
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.


Wow. do you mean everyone in their 30s in history, or everyone in history point blank?

FWIW, I'd tend to agree, especially the 2017/2018 versions where his jumpshot was consistent, and he can make every single pass or shot to beat the defense (whether it's just hitting Love over and over on the roll - LOLCASEY, or just hitting fadeaways without really trying to create much), but even as a fan it's just hard to think of someone being better than Nash or Magic at their peaks


I think LeBron's figured out the game better than anyone else in history over the course of his seemingly immortal prime with the help of a deluge of data spawning a coaching strategy arms race.

I think Magic has better intuition than LeBron and arrived at seeming savant status at a younger age, but he never had the chance to learn from this era's teachers. Of course, I don't know if I think it's a given that Magic would have kept growing intellectually like LeBron has. Frankly having watched Magic make a mess of things with the Lakers I came away thinking that Magic looked like a kid with LeBron adult.

I think Nash is probably a comparable student to LeBron while also displaying signs of a greater feel for the game than LeBron, we're talking about a guy who was basically only "the man" on his team for 7 or 8 years in the pros. LeBron's been doing this with absolute clarity in his primacy since he came into the league at age 18, and even before that he was playing as his team's alpha with the idea that that would be his game in the future.

You could perhaps argue that LeBron is older right now in "basketball years" while still being king of the mountain than Nash ever got to. (And of course that's clearly true of Magic.)
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#55 » by kayess » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:52 am

Ainosterhaspie wrote:Chris Anderson is such a telling player for how big an impact an easily forgotten role player can have on a team. A small hole can lead to big problems and the Heat, not just in 2013, but the whole time LeBron was there were weak at the five and other teams consistently capitalized on it. It's one of the biggest reasons they so rarely seemed to meet expectations.

Then in the middle of the year they get a guy who had been out of the league and they looked like a team on a whole other level. They rattled off the longest post merger single season win streak. They managed a 76 win pace for the second half of the season. And it was in large part because they finally had a guy who could give them a few minutes of actual effective big man play. Nothing flashy. No big numbers. No big minutes. Yet it made a huge difference. They were dominant.

Then Wade's knees gave out just in time for the playoffs and they were back to grinding out more difficult wins. It's amazing how big an impact bench players can have in a team's success. Way too easy to overlook.


When the "LeBron couldn't play with a big man" narrative always comes up, I always point to Birdman. Guy could do literally nothing on O except putbacks and cut well, and they looked **** amazing together. I'm not slagging on Birdman - his instincts on O and nose for the ball were just absolutely tremendous - but it's more just that micro example's fairly easy proof that if LeBron looked amazing with him, imagine what would happen if said guy could also roll (LeBron would feed him easy shots), or post-up (LeBron would cut for easy buckets). I don't think it was ever a legitimate argument, and his entire history really bore that out - Big Z before, Shaq to an extent, Birdman, TT, and now AD.

Also, role players who are great at their jobs really magnify their superstars' impact too. It goes both ways, but obviously the obnoxious stanning means that more often than not the discussion is around "x and y weren't really all that good compared to a and b", instead of appreciation - e.g. Battier being an absolute stud in Miami, decrepit Ray Allen still being an offensive force, Miller actually **** burying OKC in G5, the KCP game, the Dwight Howard series, and literally every single 3 that Rondo took and made... All those things let LeBron not face a packed paint, or rest up, so he could in turn empower those guys with open looks and what not.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#56 » by kayess » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:57 am

Doctor MJ wrote:
kayess wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
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.


Wow. do you mean everyone in their 30s in history, or everyone in history point blank?

FWIW, I'd tend to agree, especially the 2017/2018 versions where his jumpshot was consistent, and he can make every single pass or shot to beat the defense (whether it's just hitting Love over and over on the roll - LOLCASEY, or just hitting fadeaways without really trying to create much), but even as a fan it's just hard to think of someone being better than Nash or Magic at their peaks


I think LeBron's figured out the game better than anyone else in history over the course of his seemingly immortal prime with the help of a deluge of data spawning a coaching strategy arms race.

I think Magic has better intuition than LeBron and arrived at seeming savant status at a younger age, but he never had the chance to learn from this era's teachers. Of course, I don't know if I think it's a given that Magic would have kept growing intellectually like LeBron has. Frankly having watched Magic make a mess of things with the Lakers I came away thinking that Magic looked like a kid with LeBron adult.

I think Nash is probably a comparable student to LeBron while also displaying signs of a greater feel for the game than LeBron, we're talking about a guy who was basically only "the man" on his team for 7 or 8 years in the pros. LeBron's been doing this with absolute clarity in his primacy since he came into the league at age 18, and even before that he was playing as his team's alpha with the idea that that would be his game in the future.

You could perhaps argue that LeBron is older right now in "basketball years" while still being king of the mountain than Nash ever got to. (And of course that's clearly true of Magic.)


I of course understand the intellectual part of this argument. And don't get me wrong, I am absolutely spoiled as a fan and have had the privilege of watching him play... But even to me, whenever LeBron spends like 2-3 possessions in a row chucking up a 3 without doing anything, it makes me think in the moment "man, no way Jordan/Nash/Magic would've done that", and it's hard to believe he's actually superior offensively to any of those guys. Obviously when you apply context it's far easier - guys **** exhausted from having to try super hard on defense (unlike Nash and Magic, he wasn't anchor/co-anchor of the defense) along with being the entire offense, doesn't have a secondary ball handler like Pippen to give him the ball (unlike MJ), so his offense suffers at times. But I guess that's the curse of a GOAT-level talent who's probably the best ever on O, while having he highest possible ceiling for a wing on D due to his big man-lite rim protection and insane help defense
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#57 » by Doctor MJ » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:02 am

kayess wrote:I of course understand the intellectual part of this argument. And don't get me wrong, I am absolutely spoiled as a fan and have had the privilege of watching him play... But even to me, whenever LeBron spends like 2-3 possessions in a row chucking up a 3 without doing anything, it makes me think in the moment "man, no way Jordan/Nash/Magic would've done that", and it's hard to believe he's actually superior offensively to any of those guys. Obviously when you apply context it's far easier - guys **** exhausted from having to try super hard on defense (unlike Nash and Magic, he wasn't anchor/co-anchor of the defense) along with being the entire offense, doesn't have a secondary ball handler like Pippen to give him the ball (unlike MJ), so his offense suffers at times. But I guess that's the curse of a GOAT-level talent who's probably the best ever on O, while having he highest possible ceiling for a wing on D due to his big man-lite rim protection and insane help defense


Well you might say that Magic & Nash have clearer all-around vision than LeBron, but LeBron's been able to see well enough to try and hone attacks and counters for every situation with the help of having a body like no one else.
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#58 » by kayess » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:09 am

Doctor MJ wrote:
kayess wrote:I of course understand the intellectual part of this argument. And don't get me wrong, I am absolutely spoiled as a fan and have had the privilege of watching him play... But even to me, whenever LeBron spends like 2-3 possessions in a row chucking up a 3 without doing anything, it makes me think in the moment "man, no way Jordan/Nash/Magic would've done that", and it's hard to believe he's actually superior offensively to any of those guys. Obviously when you apply context it's far easier - guys **** exhausted from having to try super hard on defense (unlike Nash and Magic, he wasn't anchor/co-anchor of the defense) along with being the entire offense, doesn't have a secondary ball handler like Pippen to give him the ball (unlike MJ), so his offense suffers at times. But I guess that's the curse of a GOAT-level talent who's probably the best ever on O, while having he highest possible ceiling for a wing on D due to his big man-lite rim protection and insane help defense


Well you might say that Magic & Nash have clearer all-around vision than LeBron, but LeBron's been able to see well enough to try and hone attacks and counters for every situation with the help of having a body like no one else.


Yeahp I think that is exactly it. The "artistic genius" vs. "physical terminator" tier of ATGs applies to this case, Magic and Nash clearly just have a greater natural feel for the game (in part because they're not naturally mega scorers first, and passer second like LeBron) and just see it "better"; but LeBron has enough natural intelligence + experience + a body that allows him to take advantage of any opening, that given enough time he can approximate what they do, just not the same, instant/instinctual level those 2 have. I'm sure that's driven in part by the fact that LeBron is mega scorer first, great playmaker second, and it's probably led to a lot of overthinking on his part which has led to some utterly inexplicable decision making stretches at times (and if you believe the LeBron thread when we're melting down - this is every 3rd quarter lmao), but yeah, the distinction between LeBron and those guys are quite clear
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#59 » by Matt15 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:14 am

Lebron doesn’t have a more complete season than 1991 Jordan
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Re: What Made MJ Better Than LeBron at His Peak? 

Post#60 » by clearlynotjesse » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:40 am

kayess wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
kayess wrote:I of course understand the intellectual part of this argument. And don't get me wrong, I am absolutely spoiled as a fan and have had the privilege of watching him play... But even to me, whenever LeBron spends like 2-3 possessions in a row chucking up a 3 without doing anything, it makes me think in the moment "man, no way Jordan/Nash/Magic would've done that", and it's hard to believe he's actually superior offensively to any of those guys. Obviously when you apply context it's far easier - guys **** exhausted from having to try super hard on defense (unlike Nash and Magic, he wasn't anchor/co-anchor of the defense) along with being the entire offense, doesn't have a secondary ball handler like Pippen to give him the ball (unlike MJ), so his offense suffers at times. But I guess that's the curse of a GOAT-level talent who's probably the best ever on O, while having he highest possible ceiling for a wing on D due to his big man-lite rim protection and insane help defense


Well you might say that Magic & Nash have clearer all-around vision than LeBron, but LeBron's been able to see well enough to try and hone attacks and counters for every situation with the help of having a body like no one else.


Yeahp I think that is exactly it. The "artistic genius" vs. "physical terminator" tier of ATGs applies to this case, Magic and Nash clearly just have a greater natural feel for the game (in part because they're not naturally mega scorers first, and passer second like LeBron) and just see it "better"; but LeBron has enough natural intelligence + experience + a body that allows him to take advantage of any opening, that given enough time he can approximate what they do, just not the same, instant/instinctual level those 2 have. I'm sure that's driven in part by the fact that LeBron is mega scorer first, great playmaker second, and it's probably led to a lot of overthinking on his part which has led to some utterly inexplicable decision making stretches at times (and if you believe the LeBron thread when we're melting down - this is every 3rd quarter lmao), but yeah, the distinction between LeBron and those guys are quite clear


This is a good point. LeBron handles the scoring/playmaking balance better than anybody, but it's still a thing that his style kind of forces him to deal with. His peers on offense typically lean one way or the other: Curry/Jordan focus mostly on scoring, Nash/Magic focus on playmaking. Flipping the scoring/playmaking switch is hard and LeBron's not immune to mistakes there.

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