MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes

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MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#1 » by Kiddlovesnets » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:11 pm

I saw that RealGM actually voted Lebron as GOAT, which makes absolutely no sense to me. For this reason, I have compiled a table of season by season comparison of MJ and Lebron. This table compares MJ and Lebron based on how they performed according to expectation. The pre-season odds are a great matrix to determine the strength of each team, a team favorite to win by the odds is the best team in the league for the very season. Lets take a look:

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Note:
* The Cavs started the season as 4th favorite and should be in championship window, but dropped back to 5th following the Lakers trade for Gasol. For this reason, the 2007-2008 season does not count as a championship window year for Lebron.
** The Lakers were favorite to win in pre-season and remained as favorite even after the Nets Harden trade. For this reason, the 2020-2021 season is considered a Championship Favorite Year for Lebron.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#2 » by Kiddlovesnets » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:12 pm

So MJ in his Bulls career, never failed expectation based on pre-season odds. When his team wasnt in championship window(aka not a contender), he actually managed to take them further than they were projected. When his team was projected to win, he always won it all. MJ went 5 out of 5 when he was favorite to win, and 6 out of 6 in championship window years. When he had a team good enough to win, the trophy never went to anyone else.

Lebron on the other hand, underachieved 6 times while overachieved only 4 times. His career was characterized by failure to win with superior team and inability to meet expectation. When he was favored from 2011 to 2016, he managed only 3 rings out of 6 championship favorite years. When he was in championship window years, he managed 4 rings out of 10. Either way you look at it, he aint a winner on the biggest stage of basketball.

To summarize, MJ is the clear-cut better player, theres no contest at all. The argument that Lebron won with less talented teams against stronger opponents, is a serious misconception. Hopefully this will end the MJ vs Lebron debate for good. Btw, Lebron is again favorite to win in 2021 season, lets see if he will screw up like he usually does.


Disclaimer: I do not make up the pre-season odds data myself, they were taken from basketball-reference.com as they appeared. Heres an example of 2011-2012 season, in which the Heat was favorite to win that year:

https://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2012_preseason_odds.html
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#3 » by Homer38 » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:22 pm

As if the odds say it all, especially without the context like in 2015 when injuries were a killer and 2016 when nobody thought the warriors were going to win 73 games ..... And when you got prime LeBron or current LeBron in your team, the odds will be high, regardless of the rest of the roster.The last time LeBron lost a series because he didn't play at his super star level was almost 10 years ago

BTW, you did not include Jordan's 2 years with the wizards ...
Hello Brooklyn wrote: Kyrie is still the most overrated player in the NBA by far.

He had one great shot in the Finals last year and everyone thinks hes Jesus.

Easy to look like a God when youre playing with the best player in the world.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#4 » by Kiddlovesnets » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:28 pm

Homer38 wrote:As if the odds say it all, especially without the context like in 2015 when injuries were a killer and 2016 when nobody thought the warriors were going to win 73 games ..... And when you got prime LeBron or current LeBron in your team, the odds will be high, regardless of the rest of the roster.The last time LeBron lost a series because he didn't play at his super star level was almost 10 years ago

BTW, you did not include Jordan's 2 years with the wizards ...


Lebron's team did have injury problems in 2015 and might have gotten a pass for that year, but I wont use 2016 as a valid argument. The Warriors and Spurs both overachieved in regular season, and coming into playoffs time they struggled. They were simply not that good, judging by how they performed against the Thunder. The Warriors were also injury plagued as Curry played with injuries throughout the entire playoffs. Andrew Bogut also went down in game 5 with the score tied despite Warriors not having Draymond Green.

Btw, MJ's 2 years with wizards dont count. We are all civil fans here, RealGM isnt ISH in which most posters are trolls and dont use logic so I was expecting much better than that.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#5 » by Homer38 » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:30 pm

Also very funny for 1986 when the Bulls finished at 30-52 and MJ missed 64 games and you say Jordan and the Bulls have been above expectation :lol: :lol: :lol:
Hello Brooklyn wrote: Kyrie is still the most overrated player in the NBA by far.

He had one great shot in the Finals last year and everyone thinks hes Jesus.

Easy to look like a God when youre playing with the best player in the world.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#6 » by Homer38 » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:34 pm

Kiddlovesnets wrote:
Homer38 wrote:As if the odds say it all, especially without the context like in 2015 when injuries were a killer and 2016 when nobody thought the warriors were going to win 73 games ..... And when you got prime LeBron or current LeBron in your team, the odds will be high, regardless of the rest of the roster.The last time LeBron lost a series because he didn't play at his super star level was almost 10 years ago

BTW, you did not include Jordan's 2 years with the wizards ...


Lebron's team did have injury problems in 2015 and might have gotten a pass for that year, but I wont use 2016 as a valid argument. The Warriors and Spurs both overachieved in regular season, and coming into playoffs time they struggled. They were simply not that good, judging by how they performed against the Thunder. The Warriors were also injury plagued as Curry played with injuries throughout the entire playoffs. Andrew Bogut also went down in game 5 with the score tied despite Warriors not having Draymond Green.

Btw, MJ's 2 years with wizards dont count. We are all civil fans here, RealGM isnt ISH in which most posters are trolls and dont use logic so I was expecting much better than that.



Yeah, the years that MJ didn't win the title don't count :roll:

The warriors had beaten a team with KD and peak Westbrook in the WCF and LeBron needed a super human effort in offense and defense to beat the warriors ... Context, context please

Hello Brooklyn wrote: Kyrie is still the most overrated player in the NBA by far.

He had one great shot in the Finals last year and everyone thinks hes Jesus.

Easy to look like a God when youre playing with the best player in the world.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#7 » by Kiddlovesnets » Fri Mar 19, 2021 4:34 pm

Homer38 wrote:Also very funny for 1986 when the Bulls finished at 30-52 and MJ missed 64 games and you say Jordan and the Bulls have been above expectation :lol: :lol: :lol:


The 1986 Bulls were supposed to miss playoffs according to pre-season odds, and they did make the playoffs so they had exceeded expectation.

Homer38 wrote:Yeah, the years that MJ didn't win the title don't count :roll:


I never said this, the Bulls years all count for MJ. However, if you've paid attention to the chart, you'd have noticed that MJ actually overachieved in every year that he didnt win a ring with the Bulls. The only times that he didnt overachieve, were because he was already pre-season favorites and it aint possible to go above expectation when you are expected to win the title.

Homer38 wrote:LeBron needed a super human effort in offense and defense to beat the warriors ...


And MJ needed a super human effort to beat the 93 Suns and 98 Jazz, he managed it anyway.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#8 » by oaktownwarriors87 » Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:19 pm

So, had LeBron just met expectations he'd have as many rings as Jordan.

I guess crowning yourself the king and getting ESPN to talk about you non-stop causes people to overvalue your abilities.

Moral of the story: Never bet against Jordan.
PockyCandy wrote:Is Ball's shot any more ugly than Curry's? Curry just seems to launch it towards the basket like an 8 year old.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#9 » by yoyoboy » Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:40 pm

oaktownwarriors87 wrote:So, had LeBron just met expectations he'd have as many rings as Jordan.

I guess crowning yourself the king and getting ESPN to talk about you non-stop causes people to overvalue your abilities.

Moral of the story: Never bet against Jordan.

Now all we need is LesGrossman in here and we can really make it a party.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#10 » by yoyoboy » Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:49 pm

This is just a stupid methodology to use to determine anything because you’re just punishing someone for being so good that their presence on any team pretty much immediately yields the expectation of winning a championship. Having Jordan as the GOAT is a perfectly valid opinion but who cares about the preseason Vegas odds when we have plenty of data and film we can use to determine how they actually played during the season?

Rookie Jordan winning 38 games and getting easily handled in the first round is apparently some great feat by your method that contributes massively to his legacy but LeBron in 2010 carrying a very underwhelming cast to 60 wins and the second round against the Big 3 Celtics is a massive stain on his legacy? Okay lol. LeBron was a much better player in 2010 than Jordan was in 1985 so that’s all I care about.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#11 » by oaktownwarriors87 » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:01 pm

yoyoboy wrote:This is just a stupid methodology to use to determine anything because you’re just punishing someone for being so good that their presence on any team pretty much immediately yields the expectation of winning a championship.


I think that's the point. Expectations. LeBron didn't live up to them. He has more hype than substance.

And I'm only saying that relative to Jordan. Obviously LeBron is one of the greatest of all time and has been playing at or near an MVP level for almost two decades.

No one's going to look that great compared to Jordan. He dominated the league in box score stats, advanced stats and the win column. No one else is doing that at the level he did.

Everyone wants LeBron to be as good or better than Jordan. This shows that people were literally putting their money on it. Those are pretty unrealistic expectations.
PockyCandy wrote:Is Ball's shot any more ugly than Curry's? Curry just seems to launch it towards the basket like an 8 year old.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#12 » by Kiddlovesnets » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:12 pm

yoyoboy wrote:This is just a stupid methodology to use to determine anything because you’re just punishing someone for being so good that their presence on any team pretty much immediately yields the expectation of winning a championship.


Lebron's presence did not yield championship expectation immediately when he was drafted in Cleveland and left for the LA Lakers. He had championship expectation when he colluded and created his own big three, which is reasonable and well justified expectation. I dont think Lebron is at fault for the formation of superteams, he was a free agent and he had every right to go anywhere he wanted. However, as soon as he decided to leave Cleveland in 2010 and team up with Wade/Bosh, any argument about his team lacking talent and opponents being too strong became invalid. Its just impossible to defend the lackluster finals record when he had superteams throughout the 8 straight finals appearances(and he won only 3 out of 8 times).
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#13 » by Owly » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:21 pm

Kiddlovesnets wrote:I saw that RealGM actually voted Lebron as GOAT, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

Please go to the voting thread. The reasoning will be there. You can then agree or disagree in such a way that you are informed exactly what it is you are agreeing or disagreeing with and can engage with the debate actually had.

Or it's valid too, to offer an alternative line of debate. But specifically to rubbish the conclusion without giving any indication of having read the argument ...

Kiddlovesnets wrote:For this reason, I have compiled a table of season by season comparison of MJ and Lebron. This table compares MJ and Lebron based on how they performed according to expectation. The pre-season odds are a great matrix to determine the strength of each team, a team favorite to win by the odds is the best team in the league for the very season.

Hmm. A problem here is that it compares a team to their expectation. Beyond the problem of team level performance (at a crude level) to evaluate individual players ... An extreme case to illustrate the flaw here ... If my team somehow acquires an immortal, impervious to pain, deity (the only one) and the world knows about it, no matter how dominant they are for however long, it will be impossible for the team to exceed expectations. They can play at a level far beyond our present comprehension and they have merely "met expectations".

1986 as a "win" for Jordan further illustrates problems with this method.

The omission of Wizard's era Jordan seems (especially in this context, with '95 and '86 claimed as "exceeding" positives for Jordan and dinging a would be sophomore LeBron) looks - to my eyes - somewhat cynical.

The inclusion of '95 where the "expectation" would be based on a team without Jordan ...

'04 Cavs 5.5 wins above the cited over-under in '04 (3.5 pythagorean wins over, based on basketball-ref's rounded pythag number), as meeting expectations seems a touch mean, too (though far less an issue than the larger fundamental issues).

To summarize, MJ is the clear-cut better player, theres no contest at all. ... Hopefully this will end the MJ vs Lebron debate for good.
There is a confidence here that seems to assume the methodology above is flawless. I would argue that it is clearly not. One can certainly make a case for MJ ... the idea that the case should be closed (on an active career) ... based on the above argument ...
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#14 » by Blackmill » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:25 pm

Kiddlovesnets wrote:To summarize, MJ is the clear-cut better player, theres no contest at all.


You're ignoring a few possibilities.

For instance, perhaps the pre-season odds aren't good estimates of expected playoff outcome. After all, the projected record for the 73-win Warriors was just 59.5 games. Were the Warriors actually underdogs to win the title or did the odds setters just horribly underestimate how good the team would be?

Additionally, a team can exceed or fail to meet expectations for any number of reasons not restricted to one player's performance. Do the Bulls even make the finals in 1993 if Jordan's teammates don't play spectacularly during one of his worst playoff games and go down 0-3 to the Knicks? Does Cleveland lose in 2015 if Love and Kyrie aren't injured? Could Jordan have won in 1990 if his teammates weren't shooting ~30% in G7 against the Pistons?

The only thing that's clear-cut is you can't evaluate players by looking at their team's pre-season odds.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#15 » by Owly » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:30 pm

Kiddlovesnets wrote:However, as soon as he decided to leave Cleveland in 2010 and team up with Wade/Bosh, any argument about his team lacking talent and opponents being too strong became invalid.

This seems to assume basketball is three on three, which, aside from a niche branch of the sport, it is not. Any serious attempt to gauge his impact would look at full rosters and where the minutes went and account for both Wade and Bosh and the likes of Joel Anthony and Mike Bibby and the context of the actual strength of opponents.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#16 » by Kiddlovesnets » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:39 pm

Blackmill wrote:You're ignoring a few possibilities.

For instance, perhaps the pre-season odds aren't good estimates of expected playoff outcome. After all, the projected record for the 73-win Warriors was just 59.5 games. Were the Warriors actually underdogs to win the title or did the odds setters just horribly underestimate how good the team would be?


The pre-season odds are good estimates of expected playoffs outcome based on raw talent level on each team's rosters. The Warriors had a less talented rosters but managed 73 wins in regular season, except regular season record aint a definite indicator on their playoffs performances(ie. 2015 Hawks). The Warriors struggled against a 55 wins OKC Thunder before the finals, and Curry was dealing with injuries throughout the playoffs, they aint nowhere near as good as their regular season record suggested. The 2016 Cavs were definitely the more talented team in that season, and their win against the Warriors was expected.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#17 » by McBubbles » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:53 pm

1. Using pre-season odds as an indicator of how well a team met expectations is very silly. You're literally ignoring the entire season worth of context that would let you know if those expectations were reasonable or not. Performing above or below an arbitrary line or pre-season odds just means the people that made the odds were wrong, not that you've actually done better or worse than you should have.

2. Using team outcomes to determine who the better player is without taking ANYTHING about the player into account is YouTube comment levels of nuance, context and analysis. Iz very bad.

3. Using pre-season odds to determine standards leads to silly logical outcomes. In 85, Jordan as a 21 year old out of college wins 38 games yet makes the playoffs because his conference is trash and he exceeds expectations. In 04, Lebron as a 19 year old out of high school wins 35 games but misses the playoffs because his conference was tougher, and yet he met expectations. So the MUCH worse player in 04 Lebron winning 35 games is satisfactory, and the way player winning only 3 more games is overachieving? That's dumb. A smart person would just say MJ was better than Lebron that year, advantage MJ.

In 05, Lebron played 80 games and won 42 games but missed the playoffs due to being in a tougher conference, and he underachieved. In 86, Jordan played 18 games, and his conference was so **** awful that his team made the playoffs by winning 30 games, yet he exceeded expectations? Damn, what would MJ have to due to underachieve, get relegated :lol: ? That's dumb. A smart person would say Lebron was better than MJ that year, advantage Lebron.

Similarly, anyone that says Lebron underachieved in 2015, or that Jordan simply met expectations in 98 just didn't watch the season. They both overachieved that year. Your chosen metric just doesn't coincide with reality, basically.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#18 » by Djoker » Fri Mar 19, 2021 6:59 pm

The OP should include MJ's Wizards year for completeness. This is an omission.

On the other hand, the data presented does have merit. Lebron's teammates being favorites so many years and not delivering reflects poorly on him somehow surely? Team like Golden State producing higher win totals with comparable or actually probably inferior talent (Kyrie > Klay, Love = or > Green) shouldn't be simply ignored.
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#19 » by Owly » Fri Mar 19, 2021 7:04 pm

Kiddlovesnets wrote:The 2016 Cavs were definitely the more talented team in that season, and their win against the Warriors was expected.

This is not the case
ESPN - 2016 NBA Finals series odds - Ben Fawkes ESPN Staff Writer wrote:Here are the series betting prices for the NBA Finals as of Tuesday morning, courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, as well as individual game lines.
NBA Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

Pre-series:

Cavaliers +180
Warriors -210

After Game 1

Cavaliers +320
Warriors -380

After Game 2

Cavaliers +650
Warriors -1000

After Game 3

Cavaliers +400
Warriors -500

After Game 4

Cavaliers +1100
Warriors -2500

After Game 5

Cavaliers +375
Warriors -450

After Game 6

Cavaliers +185
Warriors -215
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Re: MJ vs Lebron based on pre-season odds & finishes 

Post#20 » by Blackmill » Fri Mar 19, 2021 7:17 pm

Kiddlovesnets wrote:
Blackmill wrote:You're ignoring a few possibilities.

For instance, perhaps the pre-season odds aren't good estimates of expected playoff outcome. After all, the projected record for the 73-win Warriors was just 59.5 games. Were the Warriors actually underdogs to win the title or did the odds setters just horribly underestimate how good the team would be?

Additionally, a team can exceed or fail to meet expectations for any number of reasons not restricted to one player's performance. Do the Bulls even make the finals in 1993 if Jordan's teammates don't play spectacularly during one of his worst playoff games and go down 0-3 to the Knicks? Does Cleveland lose in 2015 if Love and Kyrie aren't injured? Could Jordan have won in 1990 if his teammates weren't shooting ~30% in G7 against the Pistons?

The only thing that's clear-cut is you can't evaluate players by looking at their team's pre-season odds.


The pre-season odds are good estimates of expected playoffs outcome based on raw talent level on each team's rosters. The Warriors had a less talented rosters but managed 73 wins in regular season, except regular season record aint a definite indicator on their playoffs performances(ie. 2015 Hawks). The Warriors struggled against a 55 wins OKC Thunder before the finals, and Curry was dealing with injuries throughout the playoffs, they aint nowhere near as good as their regular season record suggested. The 2016 Cavs were definitely the more talented team in that season, and their win against the Warriors was expected.


You'll need to put together a more convincing argument. You say the pre-season odds are good estimates (given the raw talent) but provide no evidence of that. Moreover, even if this were true (I don't believe so), we all know that having more raw talent does not make the better team. Fit matters. So does coaching and the match ups.

The Warriors struggled against a 55 wins OKC Thunder before the finals, and Curry was dealing with injuries throughout the playoffs, they aint nowhere near as good as their regular season record suggested.


Initially you were willing to totally neglect any context (i.e. LeBron failed to meet expectations in the 2015 finals by losing even though Kyrie and Love were injured). Now you are willing to consider context but only to the extent that it diminishes LeBron's 2016 championship. This isn't a great look if you're hoping to convince people.

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