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The Evolution of LeBron James

The Miami Heat are the 2012 NBA champions, which means that LeBron James is finally an NBA champion himself. He and his team endured a two-year roller coaster ride, which began with bumpiness, went through great turbulence with the loss to Dallas in last year’s Finals, and came within one more loss to Boston a few weeks ago of perhaps having the core thrown out. In the end, however, he and his team came through, with both toughened by the hard ride. LeBron and the Heat have achieved vindication with their championship, and King James’ coronation as the best player in the league bar none is now official.

This raises the question: what are we to make of all this? What are we to make of the evolution of LeBron James?

My answer: this is how it had to be. It’s an overused cliche to say that everything happens for a reason, but in this case, everything had to happen the way it did for LeBron to grow into the leader of a championship team. Everything that happened in the past two years served to forge LeBron into the player and champion that he now is, starting with the very beginning of this two-year journey:

1.) He had to leave Cleveland in order to reach full bloom. If LeBron had re-signed with Cleveland two summers ago, then how hard would Cavs management, the coaching staff, and the fan base have pushed LeBron to improve his game? LeBron was a gigantic money maker for the team, and the Cavs had, by Dan Gilbert’s own admission, coddled him throughout his stay there. They would have likely been too happy about him staying to risk pissing him off. In all likelihood, the coddling would have continued and the demands for improvement would have been soft-pedaled.

In an environment like that, it is a certainty that LeBron’s game would not have advanced as much as it could have in Miami. In order to get more out of himself, he needed to ditch the cocoon of Cleveland for an environment where more would be expected out of him, where there would be no coddling, where team management was led by someone who had the guts and gravitas to lay down the law on LeBron if necessary. All of that added up to Miami.

2.) He needed to go to Miami, and to lose the 2011 Finals with Miami, to understand that he wasn’t good enough and needed to get better. Of course, Miami also offered the advantage of being able to pair up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, star power which no other 2010 suitor could match. But this blessing became a curse last June when the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the Finals, because it meant that LeBron had nowhere to hide and no one else off of whom to deflect blame. Wade had a great 2011 Finals until he got hurt in Game 5, and Bosh played well in that series too. The supporting cast, while flawed, was not the reason the Heat fell short.

When LeBron signed with Miami in 2010, the message that he seemed to convey to many people was “I’m good enough, and now the team around me is too.” The 2011 Finals shattered the first part of that notion. LeBron’s poor play in last year’s Finals was the biggest reason why the Heat lost, and as he admitted after this year’s title-clinching Game 5, it made him realize that he needed to get better, both in s and in his mind.

3.) He needed to go through everything (“The Decision” and the resulting backlash, the 2011 Finals loss and the resulting backlash, and the adversity faced in the 2012 playoffs) to learn, to develop mental toughness, and to understand that his proper role on the Heat is to lead. I consider “The Decision” to have been an egregious and unnecessary mistake, notwithstanding the fundraising that it yielded for the Boys and Girls Clubs. But in a way, LeBron needed that too. If what LeBron has said about his state of mind during the 2010-11 season is to be believed, then the backlash to “The Decision” put him in a revenge-focused mood which threw him out of whack and may have worn him out; many observers noted after the 2011 Finals that LeBron simply looked fried in the last few games, and I have to believe that part of this was as a result of his self-described “something to prove” mentality. He needed to learn that the mental approach he took post-”Decision” was the wrong approach to take and deprived him of mental strength at the worst possible time. In that sense, he needed to learn the hard way what not to do so that he could figure out what to do.

The 2011 Finals loss humbled LeBron by showing him the need to improve his game, and it hardened his resolve to get better and to get over the hump. But for much of this season, he and the Heat struggled with the familiar dilemma of who should be the real leader of the team. Then two moments of true peril presented themselves in this year’s playoffs. The first came in the East semifinals, when the Heat were decked by 19 in Game 3 at Indiana, fell behind 2-1, and seemed on the verge of implosion amid the sideline tiff between Wade and Spoelstra. LeBron responded by putting together an utterly ridiculous 40-18-9 showing in Game 4, helping the Heat turn that game and series around. The second came in the Eastern Conference Finals, when the Heat lost Game 5 at home to fall behind the Celtics 3-2, and faced elimination in Boston, which in turn raised the prospect of a break-up of the Big Three. Going on the road against a team that had ended his season twice in the previous four seasons, LeBron responded with an already-legendary 45-15-5 in Game 6 (that particular combination had last been achieved in the playoffs in 1964) to save the Heat’s season, then came through with 11 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7 as the Heat pulled away late to get back to the Finals.

These were situations in which the LeBron on display in 2010 vs. Boston, and 2011 vs. Dallas, would have crumbled. The 2012 LeBron produced not only perhaps the two best playoff games of his career, but given the circumstances, arguably the two best playoff games by anyone in recent years.

What was different this time? Part of it was mental toughness which LeBron had gained from his previous failings, and part of it was his improved skills (making his low-post game a focus, more consistently attacking the paint, improving his midrange game and expanding his range and repertoire on defense) and decision-making. But in my opinion, the biggest difference was that this time LeBron took control of these situations by taking control of his team. I have to imagine that his mindset was something to the effect of “No matter what, I’ll get the blame if we lose, so I might as well do everything I can to avoid losing. I can’t just be a part of the team or along for the ride, I have to be the biggest part and the biggest of the Big 3 for us to succeed.

This mentality carried over into the Finals. One thing to understand about LeBron is that for him, leadership does not equate to scoring a ton of points, although he can do that too. It means doing a bit of everything, from attacking the paint to crashing the boards and guarding every position if necessary.  Most of all, it means getting his teammates involved. I have to think that Game 5 of the Finals, with so many of his 13 assists resulting in open 3s, represented basketball nirvana for him. He had to have been thrilled to death not just with the title, but the particular way in which it was clinched.

All of this raises another question: where do LeBron and the Heat go from here? My answer: there will be more evolution to LeBron’s game, and more title contention for his team. As Wade declines (a process which may already be underway), LeBron will assume a more pronounced and overt leadership role on the Heat, which will eventually include LeBron becoming the go-to option in crunch-time and last-shot situations. Looking further ahead, LeBron’s low-post game will gradually become the dominant part of his arsenal and he will eventually become a full-time power forward. In five or six years, as his speed and agility decline with advancing age, he will not be able to operate on the perimeter as effectively as now, but he’ll still be able to score, rebound, pass and defend effectively in the blocks-even better.

As for the Heat, they now find themselves in a place where the tumult and scrutiny of the past two seasons may actually help them. They won’t be fazed by wearing the bulls-eye of defending champs because they’ve been wearing a bulls-eye for the past two years. Internally, the Heat can play free and confident because they now know how to win, which will be an immense aid in trying to do it again. One has to like their chances to at least get to the 2013 Finals, with Derrick Rose expected to miss at least the first two months of next season, the Celtics staring at a roster shake-up, and the Pacers still short on star power. Longer term, the Big 3 are signed for two more seasons, and if they win another title before then (and quite possibly even if they don’t), it is certain that they will re-up in tandem. The Heat won’t win 8 titles, and Kevin Durant and the Thunder remain a long-term threat, but the Heat’s window of contention figures to remain open for quite some time.

Related posts:

  1. Couper Moorhead: The Evolution of Lebron’s Post Game (4/12/11)
  2. Lebron James: Confessions of a Non-Hater
  3. Why Lebron James Can’t Win
  4. The Psychology of Lebron James
  5. Should Lebron James Be Considered A Legend?

Discussion

158 Responses to “The Evolution of LeBron James”

  1. Terrific article! LeBron’s legend continues to grow by leaps and bounds!

    Posted by Vaughn | July 1, 2012, 11:50 am
  2. Love it.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | July 2, 2012, 9:36 am
  3. Great article.

    Posted by Naira | July 5, 2012, 10:12 am
  4. The last part is well written. I think Lebron and Bosh will become the primary 2 4th quarter options as Wade ages.

    Posted by Ike | August 9, 2012, 11:42 am
  5. In the 2012-13 season, James has elevated his perfromance to the highest level ever seen.

    This is not to say that James is singular in his performnace, but is now clearly amongst the best of all time.

    Kevin Durnat is also at the same level.

    James: 27.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 6.9 apg
    .562 FG%/421 3Pt%/738 FT%

    Durant: 28.9 ppg/7.5 rpg/4.4 apg
    .516 FG%/427 3pt%/904 FT%

    Compare to the years 1984-85 to 1987-88 enjoyed by Larry Bird

    1984-85: 28.7 ppg/10.5 rpg/ 6.6 apg
    .522 FG%/427 3pt%/882 FT%

    1985-86: 25.8 ppg/9.8 rpg/6.8 apg
    .496 FG%/423 3pt%/896 FT%

    1986-87: 28.1 ppg/9.2 rpg/7.6 apg
    .525 FG%/.400 3pt%/910 FT%

    1987-88: 29.9 ppg/9.3 rpg/6.1 apg
    .527 FG%/414 3 pt%/916 FT%

    James and Durant are really performing at the highest level, but we need to understand that there have been great players that have done this before.

    For the time being, let’s enjoy what these two great players show us as their teams are likely poised to meet once again for the title.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 8:16 am
  6. It should also be noted that Bird was also at least equal to or superior to James and Durant in the categories of blocks and steals as well.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 8:22 am
    • Yor really like Bird, don’t you?

      Both of them have a higher efficiency and per possession production this year than Bird ever had. I actually thought you had conceded that…

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 9:06 am
      • I was a diehard Showtime Lakers fan during the 80s, but even I have little doubt that Larry Bird was at least as DOMINANT in that generation as probably LeBron is today, and certainly much more so than Durant (at this point in Durant’s career) … raw athleticism aside, prime Larry Bird would take today’s (probably pre-prime) Durant to the woodshed …

        Just my 2 cents …

        Posted by Ken | February 11, 2013, 9:23 am
      • Chris,

        I really respect your input and you clearly have a level of knowledge that I certainly do not. Please, keep contributing.

        As to liking Bird: What’s not to like?

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 9:35 am
    • Paulie, good point re: historical perspective; it’s often easy to forget just how productive the superstars of the past were during their respective careers.

      Following yesterday’s game, I compiled this brief summary of career data for those who may be interested in better understanding the differences between two of the greats playing today.

      ACTUAL COMPARISON: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant (actual data, with subjective assessments)

      Individual Performance Metrics | Regular Season

      Basic Statistics (“box score”): Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      LBJ: 27.6 PPG / .488 FG% / 7.2 rebounds / 6.9 assists / 1.7 steals / 0.8 blocks / 3.3 turnover; vs.
      KB: 25.5 PPG / .454 FG% / 5.3 rebounds / 4.7 assists / 1.5 steals / 0.5 blocks / 3.0 turnovers

      Advanced Statistics: Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      LBJ: 27.5 PER / .521 eFG / 31.7 USG / 115 ORtg / 102 DRtg / .237 WS-48 vs.
      KB: 23.4 PER / .487 eFG / 31.8 USG / 112 ORtg / 105 DRtg / .184 WS-48

      Peak Performance: Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      LBJ: 2009/2010 [25 y/o], 2007/2008 [23 y/o] and 2005/2006 [21 y/o] vs.
      KB: 2005/2006 [27 y/o], 2002/2003 [24 y/o] and 2006/2007 [28 y/o]

      Individual Performance Metrics | Postseason / Playoffs

      Basic Statistics (“box score”): Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      LBJ: 28.5 PPG / .469 FG% / 8.7 rebounds / 6.7 assists / 1.7 steals / 0.9 blocks / 3.6 turnovers; vs.
      KB: 25.6 PPG / .448 FG% / 5.1 rebounds / 4.7 assists / 1.4 steals / 0.7 blocks / 2.9 turnovers

      Advanced Statistics: Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      LBJ: 27.1 PER / .502 eFG / 31.8 USG / 114 ORtg / 101 DRtg / .234 WS-48 vs.
      KB: 22.4 PER / .480 eFG / 31.0 USG / 110 ORtg / 106 DRtg / .157 WS-48

      Peak Performance: Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      LBJ: 2008/2009 [24 y/o], 2011/2012 [27 y/o] and 2009/2010 [25 y/o] vs.
      KB: 2002/2003 [24 y/o], 2006/2007 [28 y/o] and 2007/2008 [29 y/o]

      Individual Awards | Regular Season

      Most Valuable Player: Advantage LEBRON JAMES (3x in 9 seasons vs. 1x in 16 seasons)

      All NBA: Advantage KOBE BRYANT (10x in 16 seasons vs. 6x in 9 seasons) *

      All NBA Defense: Advantage KOBE BRYANT (9x in 16 seasons vs. 4x in 9 seasons) *

      Individual Awards | Postseason / Playoffs

      Most Valuable Player, Finals: Advantage KOBE BRYANT (2x in 16 seasons vs. 1x in 9 seasons) *

      Team Accomplishments | Postseason / Playoffs

      Championships: Advantage KOBE BRYANT (5x in 16 seasons vs. 1x in 9 seasons) *

      Subjective Measures

      Team Player / “Works Well with Others”: Advantage LEBRON JAMES

      “Clutch”: Advantage LEBRON JAMES (see 82games.com and various other analyses)

      “Makes Difficult / Impossible Shots”: Advantage KOBE BRYANT (see ESPN)

      “Luck / Surrounding Talent”: Advantage LEBRON JAMES
      (i.e., KB has been surrounded by substantially more talent over the course of his career; while some analysts have argued that playing with Shaq early in his career prevented Kobe from putting up more prolific numbers (since he wasn’t the lone primary option), the far more likely analysis is that the unusually excessive attention paid to Shaq in the post actually enabled Kobe to accumulate much more prolific numbers than he otherwise would have been able to …) …

      * Measure affected by longevity (subject to material change) …

      Posted by Ken | February 11, 2013, 9:17 am
  7. So, in the macro sense, what does that mean?

    Is PER or US%, then the ultimate truth telling number? Can the complexities of the game be reduced down to just one number?

    So, what does PER actually mean in terms of wins?

    How is the PER of two players on tow different teams comparable?

    Is the difference of 4 points of PER significant given that two players could have tow vastly different circumstances?

    I know what pints are. I know what rebounds are. I know what an assist is.

    What does two points in PER mean as opposed to two points in PPG and 1.0 RPG?

    I also know that, despite the limitations of those “box score” numbers, that Bird was better in ALL of them to the James and Durant. That does NOT mean that BECAUSE of that Bird was the better player.

    Does the fact that Tim Legler once led the NBA in TS% mean he was better than Bird?

    Is Tyson Chandler better than Wilt?

    What I wrote was that James and Durant are performing at the highest level, yet there have been players who have also played at this level.

    As to Bird compared to James, remember that James dictates the offense.

    One could also argue that James’ ability to drive to the rim and thus elevate his FG% is negated by his relatively low FT% (compared to Bird)

    When you add up the averages of points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals per game, Bird has superior totals EVERY year from 1984-85 thru 1987-88 than James and Durant present day.

    This is not to say that James and Durant are not right there or that the difference is a gulf.

    What I really wanted to remind readers of was that Bird (and he is not alone) was a great ALL AROUND player that was not a one trick pony or merely a “deep threat”.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 9:30 am
    • I’m assuming this response was to Chris, and not me; neverthless, I wanted to reiterate that I agree with your position and furthermore I think anyone positing an argument that Bird was a one-trick pony (I don’t think Chris was making that argument in any event, BTW) is out of their cotton-fitzsimmons-picking-mind …

      Posted by Ken | February 11, 2013, 9:33 am
    • I’m a little confused. I didn’t use PER. I said that both LeBron and Durant outperform Bird on an per possession basis. I didn’t use a specific model or all-in-one statistic, because there is no need for that to see the obvious.
      And to be honest, your points are just a rehash of our last discussion. You are using archaic stats, that have no value whatsoever if we compare players on even terms.
      I also don’t think anybody will ever forget Bird. He excelled in his time, LeBron does now. Stats like PER show you that he dominates his era more than Bird did his, not much else.

      I personally think that LeBron is better than Bird and Durant is on the right way. There is nothng else to add to our last discussion from my side.

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 11:06 am
      • I disagree that James is better than Bird at this point.

        James is a little different in method, but the results still tilt more to Bird.

        That said, I am confident that James will play at this level longer than did Bird.

        And that will certainly be counted in James favor

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 11:18 am
        • The “results” are in LeBron’s favor. Seriously, what is so hard to understand here?

          Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 12:24 pm
        • James is a far better player the Bird. Other then titles(and Bird played with at least 3 other HOF) how exactly is Bird better then LBJ?

          Scorer? No
          Passer? No
          Rebounder? No
          Defender? No

          Posted by nightbladehunter | February 12, 2013, 5:58 pm
          • Bird was a better rebounder and they are about even as passers.

            Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 6:12 pm
          • Bird is more commited to rebounding maybe, that is not James role on the team, he could average 10+ rebounds a game if he wanted to. Remember that he is a wing player.

            James is a better passer, his court vision is much better then Bird’s was. Also his ability to make the right play at the right time is better. Hes an all around better player, people who are objective and have eyes should not be able to deny this.

            Even if I grant that Bird rebounded better(and I don’t) that would still leave everything else in James favor.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | February 13, 2013, 9:27 pm
          • Bird rebounded better than LeBron as a PF and as a SF – and considering that LeBron plays a hybrid 3/4-role, just like Bird in his prime, you can compare them pretty well. Bird also rebounded better in the playoffs, when LeBron actually “tries” to rebound, as I like to say.
            I don’t know how you can say that LeBron’s court vision is better or that he is a better passer. LeBron is better at the skip, bullet and cross-court pass, while Bird was a better interior and post passer. I normally encounter people who make the argument that Bird was the (clearly) better passer, so excuse my surprise here.

            Posted by Chris | February 13, 2013, 9:38 pm
          • Bird was a better shooter, passer, and rebounder. To claim otherwise shows strong bias. Passing is the only one of those 3 that’s even close to debatable.

            Now defensively, it’s hard to say who’s better. Their numbers are almost identical, obviously Lebron has much more athleticism, but remember Bird had more height (Bird is 6-9 and Lebron is 6-7.25) and that Bird had unbelievable anticipation skills (just ask Isiah Thomas).

            Bird was more skilled while LBJ is more athletic. Overall Bird at his peak was the better player compared to Lebron today. This isn’t meant to be a knock on Lebron – Bird at his peak, was dominant at a level that only MJ and Wilt Chamberlain have ever matched. The numbers can’t even do it justice. In the mid 80s lots of people considered Bird the g.o.a.t., it wasn’t until the 90s when Jordan became widely considered the g.o.a.t.

            Now Lebron is going to have a much longer career and will probably have more career accolades (except maybe championships) when all is said and done because Bird was not very durable. Bird’s lack of durability and the fact that he didn’t play for stats have left his legacy to be questioned by newer basketball fans who never saw him play.

            I’m not a Lebron hater btw. I think he and Shaq are the 2 best players since MJ. Lebron is better than Kobe has ever been.

            Posted by Thork | June 13, 2013, 12:58 pm
      • I apologize for being “archaic”

        I don’t have have the luxury of advanced education.

        Now, if you will excuse me, I need to flip my Brontosaurs Burger before Mr. Slate sees me goofing off at work.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 11:22 am
        • Jesus Christo, people … please, identify your target before you broadside!

          Paulie, Chris was referring to me … I’m the imbecile for placing any value on archaic statistics … basic and advanced statistics are pointless, with the exception of 81 points (that matters), 62 in 3 quarters (so does that), 50 points in 4 straight games (ding, ding, ding … that definitely counts), and of course five rings (oh, yeah … that counts) …

          Disclaimer: This broadside is intended for Chris, Gil or whomever …

          Posted by ken | February 11, 2013, 11:34 am
          • Everything you list adds no value to the overall argument. I have never made an argument that was based on such premises.
            So please stop constructing strawman arguments.

            Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 12:14 pm
      • “You are using archaic stats, that have no value whatsoever if we compare players on even terms.”

        Seriously? Even Darryl Morey and Kirk Goldsberry think that’s an indefensible and patently ridiculous opinion. Basic and Advanced metrics have “no value whatsoever”? Wow …

        Come to think of it … Chris, are you the same poster behind these two posts (in re Kobe Bryant vs. Lebron James: Game Winning Shots):

        Hahah. Those questions at the end are absolutely ridiculous. Nice job trying to hide a “Kobe sucks, LeBron is better” article, but you utterly failed. And why don’t you write how you actually feel instead of trying to come across as a nice person? I can just feel your pent up rage, lol. Fucking fail.
        Posted by Chris | September 20, 2011, 12:48 am

        Honestly, you can just feel the absolute hatred for Kobe seeping from this article. LeBrick for life! <3
        Posted by Chris | September 20, 2011, 12:54 am

        or … are you just Gil Meriken catfishing in stealthmode until you accidentally cross the streams on your rhetoric and someone notices? One or the other, I’m guessing …

        Posted by ken | February 11, 2013, 11:29 am
        • Paulie presented raw stats, no advanced stats. I have never said, that advanced stats are useless. So again, please stop making up strawmans.

          And no, I’m not this person. And I’m starting to feel angered by your blind attacks.

          Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 12:24 pm
  8. Ken,

    It was not so much a response as it was a line of inquiry.

    As to using PER as a defacto measuring tool:

    It is true that James’ PER is higher than Bird’s, BUT Bird led the NBA twice with totals 4 or more points lower than James.

    What does that mean?

    The difficulty with using complex and “alluding to” metrics can sometimes lead us AWAY form the truth rather than bringing us closer to it.

    I don’t have the ability to judge what that answer may be at this time.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 10:05 am
    • OK …

      1. my summary of data early this morning centered around the comparison between LBJ and Kobe, not LBJ and Bird (i’m unclear whether you noticed that) … for the record, i’m not dissuaded at all by Bird’s PER, as there are so many other varied data points that establish his value much higher than PER alone might suggest …

      2. i don’t think PER, in a vacuum, is much more than one of many directional data points useful in comparing players … that it incorporates other discrete data we already use doesn’t mean that its use is redundant … it’s just another measure, but a pretty good one … remember, it’s not like the LeBron vs. Kobe comparison comes down to PER because they are materially the same when it comes to all other measurables … PER is just yet another metric that demonstrates the vast gulf between these two …

      3. i’m always open to conflicting data, but it’s no secret that my pet project on this site (disproving, perhaps shouting down, outlandishly unwarranted Kobe worship) is based primarily on the abundance of objective data (basic and advanced stats, but also more complex metrics like WARP) and reasonable qualitative conclusions (e.g., the fact that this 2012/2013 Lakers team is struggling so badly is, in fact, an indictment of Kobe’s leadership and deficiencies in the area of “immeasurables”) underpinning that agenda …

      Posted by Ken | February 11, 2013, 10:28 am
      • I have always felt the narrative of Kobe as a “leader” was a false one.

        the evidence points more to Bryant being a divisive force rather than a unifying one.

        Kinda like Dick Allen was in MLB.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 11:13 am
  9. I have noticed that PER tends to really favor those players that handle the ball a lot and also have a high number of FGA.

    I am also very skeptical of the value of TS% as there is no accounting for volume (Chandler) and it also doesn’t reveal contextual shooting (Legler)

    I am also not dissuaded by PER. Unlike Win Shares and WAR in baseball, the dispersion of opportunity for counting stats in the NBA is not equal, as it is in baseball.

    Yet, it seems logical to me that when a player is amongst the league leaders in PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, shoots at a .500/.400/.900 rate AND plays on a team that competes for the championship, that player is REALLY REALLY great.

    We have to be cautious of the Disney Nation conflating misleading numbers for us. Saturday, they told us that Tim Burke, of Michigan, was the only player other than Magic to average over 17 ppg and 7 apg.

    While that is technically true, it was an attempt to imply that the viewer was watching “another Magic”.

    Well, when you add in that Magic also had 7.6 rpg and went to the line 5 times more a game AND played without a very close 3 point line, Burke doesn’t really compare at all.

    But that won’t boost the hype which hopefully boosts ratings which in turn fuels the salaries of buffoons like Legler and Skip Bayless.

    For the record, here are the numbers for Burke and Magic

    Burke: 58 games played (as of 2-11-2013) and Magic with 62 games played

    Burke: 340-748 FG/FGA .454%
    Magic: 348-752 FG/FGA .463%

    Burke: 157-208 FT/FTA .755
    Magic: 363-445 FT/FTA .816

    Burke: 195 Rebounds, 3.4 RPG
    Magic: 471 Rebounds, 7.6 RPG

    Burke: 326 Assists, 5.6 APG
    Magic: 491 Assists, 7.9 APG

    Burke: 837* points, 14.4 PPG
    Magic: 1059 points, 17.1 PPG

    *Burke’s points total adjusted to 1978 rules

    Isn’t this the same type of conflation that we see with Kobe to Jordan?

    Just because one is similar in style or in SOME of the results does not mean that the two are, in fact, truly similar.

    Magic: 6

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 11:09 am
  10. PER favors players with high usage%, thus it neglects, or punishes, inefficiency less than for example WS or WP.
    Also your problem with TS% is irrelevant, because as I said, we are comparing two players on similar levels. They aren’t bit players with low usage that fill out specific niche roles to varying degrees of succes (e.g. Chandler is really good at what he does, helps his team immensely, but isn’t an elite player).

    The longer I argue with you, the more I get the feeling that you have no clue whatsoever about advanced metrics and what they are trying to depict. All I can tell you is, that raw averages per game, especially if you compare players separated by decades, are utterly useless.

    Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 12:25 pm
  11. Thanks for the insult.

    I can’t agree with your following positions:

    1) that we are arguing. I am not at all defensive regarding my ignorance, such that it is.

    2) that I strongly disagree that comparing averages across decades is utterly useless.

    I would agree that some adjustments need to be considered and that contextual factors need to also be considered, but 28 ppg is still 28 ppg.

    I have yet to see how those rates have changed sharply in value in the past 30-40 years.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 12:30 pm
  12. So I’m playing your game now and use traditional stats. I compare Bird’s 4 most productive seasons with LeBron’s 2012/13.
    The colums are for (in order): Year, Pace of the team, minutes per game, combined points+rebounds+assists per game, efg%

    84/85 101.6 39.5 45.8 .538
    85/86 101.2 38 42.4 .521
    86/87 98.6 40.6 44.9 .555
    87/88 97.9 39 45,3 .556
    12/13 90.7 38.4 42.0 .600

    Just to make sure: Less possessions = fewer points, fewer rebounds, fewer assists

    So without even talking about defense or TS%, how can you tell me with these stats, that Bird was better than LeBron?

    Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 1:04 pm
  13. Okay. I see your point and thank you.

    I am curious, though, how does this line up with league comparison?

    How did the Celtics, as a team, compare to the league and how does the Heat compare to the league?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 1:16 pm
  14. I think that the inclusion of eFG% is a bit of a canard in this comparison, however.

    Is there a way that could factor in the relative disparity of Bird to James’s FT%?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 1:18 pm
  15. Wouldn’t we also want to factor in how frequently Bird or James shot the ball in relation to the rest of the team/league?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 1:20 pm
  16. and, unless I am mistaken, isn’t Bird’s rate in 1987-88 virtually the same as James’ this year?

    Perhaps very very slightly lower?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 1:23 pm
    • They are almost identical, with LeBron obviously shooting better. But that isn’t surprising to me, because I know how great Bird was. I’m just uncomfortable with your assertation, that Bird was somehow better than LeBron, using these kind of stats.

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 1:42 pm
  17. Chris,

    think of my psotion in these terms:

    We can agree that the play of James is one of the best we have ever seen; what, then, does that say of the play of Bird?

    All I was attempting was to put a perspective on the relative greatness of James, Durant and Bird.

    It is fashionable to discount anything that does not occur present day.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 1:49 pm
    • “what, then, does that say of the play of Bird?”

      That he was really good.

      “All I was attempting was to put a perspective on the relative greatness of James, Durant and Bird.”

      I’m pretty sure you were thinking in absolutes and not in relative terms. It’s fine that you want to recall the greats of past time, but I have three big problems with your arguments:
      1. You don’t use advanced statistics, albeit chiding Kobe fans for defending him with traditional stats.
      2. Nobody provoked you. You brought up Bird in particular. You don’t seem to care about the other greats in comparison to LeBron and Durant, because you’ve never brought them up in this argument (or in our last one).
      3. Why are you only using regular season numbers? If the argument is the overall greatness of players we definitely can’t ignore the postseason.

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 2:07 pm
  18. I agree with using postseason numbers.

    I would wager that Bird takes a step up there against James.

    I have offered my hierarchy many many times on here.

    I suppose mentioning West was an example of NOT bringing up others?

    I haven’t used “advanced” metrics simply because it is all a rehash of basic ones. Certainty, there is some good combinations, but doesn’t it all come down to the same things? Points for and points against?

    I am hardly being combative, but I suppose most people tend to be defensive when their beliefs or positions are questioned. Yet, aren’t questions the best method to finding answers?

    I would say that James’ closest match is Robertson.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 2:33 pm
    • You didn’t compare West with anybody, you just said that he was good at getting to the line.
      Advanced metrics can create an even playing field, cleaning up noise from data. Using traditional ones instead, if you definitely want to use stats, doesn’t seem logical.
      I agree with your comparison to Robertson, at least from a raw statistical comparison.

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 2:58 pm
  19. I would correct myself.

    James is also better to Bird in the playoffs as well.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 2:37 pm
  20. Chris,

    Given your ability to use the advanced metrics well, could you then offer your own personal hierarchy of NBA players?

    1-10
    11-20?

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 4:26 pm
    • Such a list doesn’t exist. I can’t compare players before Kareem with modern players.

      So let me cheat a little:

      Top 5 Pre-Kareem:
      Wilt, Russell, Oscar, West, Pettit/Baylor
      Even then, how do you judge guys like Mikan or Johnston?

      Top 5 After-Kareem:
      Jordan, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Shaq/Duncan
      I project LeBron to end up being 3rd, but who knows what is going to happen.

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 5:01 pm
  21. Chris,

    Tha is just about how I have it.

    Your judgment regarding Johnston and Mikan is correct. Mikan was essentially useless after the rules changes, yet prior to that was very dominante.

    I have my hierarchy to be:

    Jordan
    Russell
    Kareem
    Wilt
    Bird
    Magic
    Duncan
    West
    Robertson
    Olajuwan
    Moses Malone
    Shaq
    Bryant
    Havlicek
    Baylor
    Pettit
    James
    K. Malone
    Barkley
    Erving

    After that, it gets a bit muddier, and in no particular order

    D. Robinson
    Stockton
    Thomas
    Cousy
    Pippen
    Nowitski
    Wade
    Frazier
    R. Barry
    Garnett

    I can certainly see James climbing past Duncan, but my bias may prevent me from comfortably placing any higher.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 6:48 pm
    • I have a question for you: Do you think that players in the 80s played “better” basketball than they do today? Because that’s the only way I can understand you puting Magic and Bird on such high pedestals.
      I also wonder how you value longevity, because Bird and Magic had both pretty short careers by modern standards.

      Posted by Chris | February 11, 2013, 7:29 pm
  22. Longevity has been drastically altered with advances in equipment and training since 1979. How many minutes would Shaq have logged wearing Chuck Taylors as opposed to Nikes specifically designed for his foot?

    I can’t say whether it was “better”, but it was different.

    The three point line has changed a lot of strategy.

    Bird and Magic have a lot of immeasurable. You have to accept the lore (and the results) to place them so high. I admit that I do.

    Perhaps that may change, but you really cannot deny the results that each had at every level.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 8:37 pm
    • did you NOT see Bird or Magic play?

      That’s the only way I could understand someone NOT placing them so high.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 8:38 pm
      • I propose a new rule for this message board.

        Any time someone appeals to the eyeball test, they automatically lose the “debate.”

        All in favor?

        Posted by lochpster | February 11, 2013, 9:34 pm
      • I saw them, so what? People always get enchanted with flair and the spectacular and the passing of decades ensures, that connoisseurs like you forget every bad thing or flaw about them.
        I agree with Lochpster, the eyeball test can’t be used here, it just opens up the flood gates for biased nostalgia, especially if you consider, that most available games of Bird and Magic are highlight reels and their signature games, additionally distorting the memory of the modern viewer.

        Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 6:36 am
    • So you don’t care for longevity? It doesn’t matter why somebody didn’t play longer. If you want to do more than compare peak value/production, you have to take it into account.
      And I can’t even begin to fathom what you mean with:
      “but you really cannot deny the results that each had at every level.”

      Yes, they had a lot of success, but so did a lot of other greats and a lot of them without 2-4 other hall of famers on their team for basically a decade straight. They weren’t even the best players on their own teams for stretches, especially in Magic’s case!

      Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 6:40 am
      • At what point was Bird NOT the best player on the Celtics prior to the back injury?

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 12, 2013, 2:00 pm
        • Will you name these other greats that had success without 2-4 other HOF players?

          Who were they?

          Jordan?
          Stockton?
          Robertson?
          Kareem?
          Shaq?
          Moses?
          Barkley?

          they all had HOF players on their rosters when they won.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 12, 2013, 2:02 pm
          • Easy. Jordan first three titles with Pippen – I hope you don’t think of Horace Grant as a Hofer.
            Oscar and Kareem had each other and won. Shaq won with Kobe and Wade. All had one really good star player at their side and in Kareem’s case you can even argue that Oscar wasn’t a real star anymore. That’s not even talking about Hakeem or Dirk, who got it done without another star. Magic and Bird on the other hand had an army of superstars, stars, top six man, defensive player of the years anf former mvps on their squads at almost all times.

            Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 3:28 pm
        • Sorry, I only meant Magic. But even if I didn’t want to make the argument: Maxwell in Bird’s rookie year and McHale in 86/87 were both pretty much on his level.

          Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 3:24 pm
  23. Put it this way:

    Bird is the only player to be in the top 60 in ALL of points, rebounds and assits. This despite a “relatively short career”

    Magic retired as the all time assists leader. Also having played a “short career”

    it has to be a combination of both impact and duration.

    I would wager that only the Russell Celtics had a higher winning percentage than the Bird Celtics prior to the back surgery.

    Magic, likewise played on, and made significant impact, on teams that were over .700.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 11, 2013, 8:45 pm
    • “We have to be cautious of the Disney Nation conflating misleading numbers for us. ”

      And here we have what appears to be the same thing. Why pick the top 60? Because it gerrymanders the statistics to show Bird in the best possible light.

      Bird is 34th, 35th and 53rd, respectively, in total points, assists and rebounds. Impressive, no doubt, but not particularly so when compared to his peers in the pantheon of the NBA.

      Wilt Chamberlain, for instance, is 4th in points and 1st in rebounds but a mere 64th in assists, so he does not make the cut for this arbitrary criteria. Same with Oscar Robertson-12th in points, 6th in assists, 78th in rebounds. Statistically both dwarf Bird’s accomplishments in two of three categories and trail by a much smaller margin in the third.

      Then there’s the guys you missed who actually do qualify. Kareem-1st in points, 36th in assists, 4th in rebounds. Karl Malone-2nd, 46th and 7th. Even Kevin Garnett looks better than Bird on paper by your numbers-20, 50 and 13-and he’s still playing.

      So is Lebron, who checks in at 41st, 55th and 209th, but he still has half a career left. He should pass Bird in win shares in the next few games and is on track to leapfrog him in wins produced by the age of 30. He’s already got him in PER ,TS%, and just about any other advanced measure you can think of. He hasn’t quite caught him in the counting stats yet, but he probably will.

      Whether you’re looking at raw stats or advanced stats, Bird just isn’t quite at the same level as the other all time greats. It’s just impossible to argue otherwise.

      Posted by lochpster | February 11, 2013, 10:26 pm
  24. I apologize.

    I meant to use the rates.

    Thus, if you so desire we can cut it off at 50.

    Who, then, is the only player to be in the top 50 in per game averages for points rebounds and assists?

    Hey, I get it, it is a custom made argument, yet it does encompass the broadest and most fundamental aspects of stat measurement.

    Are not PPG, RPG, and APD analogous to Batting average, Slugging Average and On Base percentage for baseball?

    How is a player who has that level of diversity combined with higher efficiency and that was the key player on a team with a .700 w/L NOT in the top 5 of all time?

    If Bird and Magic are too high,m then you need to explain to me why Duncan is so highly regarded.

    And, I really doubt the wisdom of those that flatly refuse to believe that Bird is not amongst that group.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 12, 2013, 4:08 am
    • Bird was great relative to his time, so was Magic. Magic was considered to be better back then and is mostly today and the (advanced) stats agree. It’s your own fixation of lists and rankings that make you blind to these kind of arguments. And btw, PPG, RPG, and APG are not analogous to Batting average, Slugging Average and On Base percentage. I don’t even know how you could get that idea. The only thing they have in common, is that they are archaic, a word you don’t seem to like but that fits most of your points.
      I personally also didn’t argue that Bird et al. weren’t great, but they can be leapfroged. That’s why I asked if you consider modern players on average worse then they used to be.
      Instead of protecting the greats of the past in a cocoon of nostalgia, I like to think, that basketball and its players are improving, if even just slightly.

      Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 6:50 am
  25. IN addition, you can add Steals per game as well.

    Bird is 30th all time in that. Though the data is limited.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 12, 2013, 4:10 am
  26. Sorry to have added my ignorance to any discussion.

    I suppose then, that my archaic thinking can never shed any light nor can I ever arrive at any correct conclusion simply because I may disagree slightly with your methodology.

    Congrats, I shall disappear and stop wasting your time.

    Please, continue with your “snobbery” and snidely dismissal of those that you deem inferior due to a divergence of value placement.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 12, 2013, 2:05 pm
    • You’re ignorant to advanced stats albeit chiding Kobe fans for using the same arguments you use, just for an other player. Actually makes you a hypocrite…

      Posted by Chris | February 12, 2013, 3:29 pm
    • Advanced stats correlate more strongly to team success than any individual stat, albeit some more than others. PER may have all sorts of flaws in many ways, but multiply it by minutes per game and you’ll have a statistic very highly predictive of winning. In fact, it’s much more predictive of such than any other number you can draw from the box score.

      You seem to really like points, rebounds, assists and steals, Paulie. If you look at all of them together, I bet you’ll find a better list of great players than you would if you just looked at any of those stats individually. You’ve basically created an advanced stat, albeit in long paragraph form rather than as a single number.

      In fact, if you believe these are better than, for instance, PER * MPG (which is far from the best advanced stat, BTW), find a way to lump them together and see how well you can correlate your stat to winning. Perhaps it will be better than PER * MPG or WP or WS. Then you’d really have a counterargument.

      This is not a divergence of values, as you put it. A divergence of values would be a disagreement of two equally valid opinions. You could argue yourself blue in the face about whether individual production or team success matters more to a player’s greatness and both have valid opinions. However, in this instance, you actually can quantify a player’s value added to his team in a manner more predictive of team success than what you are doing. Hence, your argument is archaic.

      Bird may be better than all those other players you listed-that is not an unreasonable opinion. However, his individual, on-court production, at least based on the information in this series of posts, doesn’t measure up, and that’s not an opinion.

      Posted by lochpster | February 12, 2013, 6:52 pm
      • for the last time, since you don’t seem to pay attention to the content of what I write in total. . .

        I constantly have said to use stats in combination.

        I use the counting stats together. Why do think I admire Bird?

        Name another double digit rebounder with 6.0 apg

        Name another frontcourt player with 24+ ppg and 6.0+ apg and 10.0 rpg. Heck, name any player with those rates and I bet you have a really elite list.

        Name the players with 20 ppg, 5 rpg and 5 apg that ALSO have shooting percentages of .500/.400/.900 and you get another elite list.

        The thing is, Bird, like James and Jordan winds up on ALL the lists regardless of how you craft it.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 12, 2013, 10:15 pm
        • This isn’t really about Bird. You can craft whatever list you want, that’s your prerogative.

          Obviously if you look at specifically what Bird accomplished, nobody else has had the exact same skill set. Same is true with all the other greats.

          My issue is why you continue to insist on using inferior statistics. If you’re trying to figure out the best player, wouldn’t you want to use the stats that most correlate with winning rather than a random grab-bag of historically used numbers?

          If the stats you use in combination are points, rebounds assists and shooting percentages, you’ll still wind up with a list less predictive of team outcome than if you use a combo of advanced stats. Not my opinion, statistical truth.

          http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/predictive-stats-bad-metrics-correlation-in-the-nba/

          Posted by lochpster | February 14, 2013, 6:04 am
          • Good point.

            I wanted to add, just in case somebody reads that whole article you posted: Dave Berris minions are really doing a heck of a job defending WP to the death. To this day I’m confused how they attribute value to singular players and defend it with the notion that WP is outstanding at predicting (moreso explaining actually) winning on a team level. I wonder if there is one member of the APBR community that hasn’t been banned by them atleast once.

            Posted by Chris | February 14, 2013, 6:27 am
          • While I agree it can be confusing (and admittedly as a non-statistician, I certainly couldn’t replicate the math) I believe the method-determining the actual worth of a variable, creating the model, then testing and refining it-is something that really only WP does, as far as I know.

            I also think the results are interesting. There are 5 players running away from the pack this year-Durant, James, Chandler, Paul and Harden, in that order. Given all the pub James has gotten recently, is it possible Durant’s already better? If you look at the numbers, it seems like it is very possible. Is Chandler really one of the top few players in the league? Scoff if you want, but the DPOY’s offensive efficiency is on another planet and, even with a low usage rate, the marginal offense you get from roughly 70% true shooting is absurd.

            Posted by lochpster | February 14, 2013, 10:24 pm
          • Advanced +/- models don’t like Durant all that much – only 3rd or 5th best, haha – and I vastly prefer them over WP and WP/48, because WP does a horrible job of allocating defensive production and value to individual players. WP also disregards the instrinsic mechanics of basketball: They vastly overvalue rebounds and vastly underrate the usage-efficiency dropoff. I can build you a team via longtime + WP-performers using 5 different positions via WP/48 or WP where you would be hardpressed to think, that they shouldn’t belong in the D-league. Win shares are also rather unscientific, but there is a much higher correlation with what I’m seeing on the floor.

            And Chandler is great on offense this year, but his defense has really slipped.
            He has great value for a team: He is their anchor of the 1-4 attack, drawing a crowd in the middle, his tap outs are great, he finishes efficient and strong even with his free throw percentage dipping rather strongly as of late. But during Felton’s injury, with nobody penetrating on a regular basis, you could see his impact drop significantly. He’s a role player, somebody that can be great in the right circumstances, which is the Knicks. But a great player is great everywhere!
            On the other hand, WP does a good job highlighting guys like Chandler that are often forgotten, because analysts and fans ignore anybody who can’t “create his own shot”, as if that is the be all end all…

            Posted by Chris | February 15, 2013, 6:30 am
  27. Lebron is already a better player then Kobe all time.Now some of you might think that is crazy but consider that Kobe is known for his scoring yet since both have been in the league, Lebron has outscored Kobe on a lot less shots.

    Lebron is (all time here) scores more on less shots, rebounds, passes and defends better, has done more with less and is currently in his 3rd year of having a team that he should lead to an NBA title. Right now he has 1 title, 1 finals, and we will see how this season plays out. He also has 3 MVP’s which puts him in an elite class. He should win his 4th MVP this year.

    Kobe on the other hand has done very little when he has had scrubs around him. Hes never taken a team on his back and carried them to a deep playoff run or an NBA finals without considerable help, by which I mean another HOF(at least 1). Lebron took Cleveland to the NBA finals, that was an amazing feat right there. He had no one of value on those teams. Oh some people say he had Mo Williams, but Lebron made him an allstar, notice hes not been an allstar anywhere else.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 12, 2013, 6:12 pm
  28. I actually want to offer my thoughts on the evolution of LeBron, instead of discussing Bird ad nauseam.
    Some quick points:
    - He has lost a lot of his peak athleticism, which has forced him to reduce the number of drives per game.
    - That is at the same time one of the main reasons why he is drawing fewer free throws.
    - While people are talking about his postgame, I actually don’t see much of a difference. His footwork is a little bit better and he uses it more, but he’s clearly holding back.
    - His actual transformation has been the spot-up shooting, where he leads the league in shooting percentage this season – no joke by the way.
    - Compared to 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, the amount of energy he uses on defense on a nightly basis has greatly diminished. He was really good last year, but not as good as back then and he is even worse this year.
    - He mainly imrpoved on his defensive versatility. I would add, that he’s at the moment the best fronter in the entire NBA, something that is going to be useful in the playoffs again.
    - He makes nowadays more passes that end up being hockey assists. Until about 2 years ago, he tried to make the assisting pass to often, something Charlie Rosen has often remarked.
    - LeBron used to be the best transition defender in the NBA. Now he isn’t anymore, but players treat him that way out of reputation, which makes up for it, I guess ;:)
    - LeBron has really improved his paint game, mainly by incorporating nifty hook shots and 5 foot bank shots. He’s probably the most feared paint scorer since Shaq at the moment.
    - He is constantly experimanting with his free throw form, which is not only stupid but also damaging his game. I hope he sticks with his current steady positioning and slow release, but it probably won’t stick, just like the foreword leaning one, where he shot around 85%…
    - It’s nice to see that he has abandoned the stupid fading on his long 2s – outside of some end of quarter shots of course -.-

    Summary: He plays more intelligently than ever before, but I actually don’t think that he is better than in 2009.
    On the other hand, all those changes indicate, that he is able to compensate for the athleticism erroding effects of aging, something you couldn’t be sure off just 3 years ago.

    Posted by Chris | February 13, 2013, 10:06 pm
    • For those who liked the inane discussion about LeBron and Bird, I present you a crude stat update:
      LeBron has now more win shares than Bird accumulated in his entire career.

      Posted by Chris | February 21, 2013, 12:47 pm
    • I am going to respond to your comments one by one….

      - Lebron has lost nothing, hes in his prime. That is a foolish statement. Hes shown time and time again he can do what he wants when he wants. He is in the best shape of his life IMO.

      -He is getting fewer free throws because he doesn’t flop, and he very few players that hit him can knock him back, hes capable of driving through contact and finishing. Hes a freaking monster.

      -That is indeed what he has improved the most in this season. Personally I think having Ray Allen to practice with has helped that a bunch since he is the best shooter in the history of the NBA.

      -If you mean he doesn’t have to do it all himself then you would be correct. If you mean he is a worse defender then you would be incorrect. He should have got defensive player of the year last year just like he should have got MVP the year before. But the media doesn’t want to give him credit sometimes.

      -Hes the best defender in the NBA…a player he can’t guard, can’t be guarded.

      -Hes making the right basketball play most of the time. He could average a triple double if he wanted to.

      -Lebron is still one of the best if not the best, I don’t know why you believe his skills have dropped off, hes gotten better not worse.

      -I agree with this.

      -I think if he spends an offseason working on it he can get to around 80-85%, he won’t ever shoot 90%+. I do expect him to hit a higher average in the playoffs though.

      -Yes I agree. That looks good but doesn’t work

      Hes playing the best basketball of his life, you are too spoiled by him if you think differently. I seriously fail to see how you don’t think hes playing better basketball then ever…hes easily the best player in the game and its not even close, we can’t really have a debate right now about who basketball’s best player is. He had no post game in 2009 so your statement right there is factually incorrect. Hes 28 years old, that is the prime of a person’s life, I don’t understand what you mean by the effects of aging.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | February 23, 2013, 9:52 pm
      • - I’m sorry, but LeBron has lost athleticism compared to his peak between 2006 and 2009, that’s something you can easily see if you watch games from back then. He also weighs more now, fitting for somebody who plays more PF. To make it simple: Just go back and look at his first step and tell me it’s as quick and fast as it used to be.

        - He gets fewer free throws because he drives less, that’s a fact you can look up with synergy and STATS LLP/SportsVu. The question is actually: Does he drive less, because he doesn’t have to anymore or because he wants (has) to protect his body more over the course of the regular season?

        - His defensive intellect is better than ever and he has become more versatile. But he is a worse defender because he plays with less ernergy on defense. 2009 and 2012 were clearly better years from him defensively. He doesn’t close out hard as often as he used to, – he also didn’t do that last year, his only big deficiency in a great year – he funnels players more into help defense, instead of staying in front of them and he uses less energy in transition defense.

        - “Hes the best defender in the NBA…a player he can’t guard, can’t be guarded.”
        I firmly believe that big man will always have greater impacts on defense than a wing player ever will, so I don’t buy this. Additionally, LeBron can’t guard guys like Hibbert or Bynum, because fronting doesn’t work against their massive bodies – and I guarantee you, that those guys can be defended.

        - “Hes making the right basketball play most of the time. He could average a triple double if he wanted to.”
        If he forced it, yes, but not organically. He plays too much off the ball and too much perimerter defense to realistically average 10+ assiste and 10+ rebounds without forcing it, something a player should never do. The 93 possessions pace also doesn’t help.

        - “Lebron is still one of the best if not the best, I don’t know why you believe his skills have dropped off, hes gotten better not worse.”

        He probably is still the best – mostly because of reputation, as could be seen in the Chicago game – but that doesn’t mean he is as good as he used to be.

        - I don’t believe in a huge % improvement from him. But if it happens I won’t be entirely surprised, because he has already used forms that should deliver 80-85%.

        - “Hes playing the best basketball of his life, you are too spoiled by him if you think differently.”

        He actually might, but that doesn’t mean that every facet of his game is at a life time high. And I have no idea what this has to do with being spoiled.

        - “hes easily the best player in the game and its not even close”

        Yeah, never argued against that. Ever heard of a strawman?

        - “He had no post game in 2009″

        Wow…Please look up his post numbers from his last few years in Cleveland and then read some articles from Couper Moorhead, who has detroyed this argument – or myth – multiple times already.

        - ” I don’t understand what you mean by the effects of aging”

        I’m not sure there has ever been a nba player who was at his athletic peak at age 28. They say that ages 25 up to 30 or so are your prime years because physical and mental components come together. But that doesn’t mean that they are both at their respective best. Your mental game continues to grow after your prime and your athleticism is best before your prime.

        Summary: Just because you reach your prime, doesn’t mean that you are doing everything as good as ever before. I’m also not sure if your arguments are based on that fallacy or if they are based on blind worship, so I let you decide.

        Posted by Chris | February 24, 2013, 8:25 am
  29. -He can blow by anyone in the game still. He causes the problem of being too big and strong for the smaller players to guard and too fast for the larger players to guard. Even if he has lost a step, its not much of one…

    -He doesn’t have to. Hes doesn’t have to carry the team himself(today’s game is the perfect case in point with Wade leading the 4th Q comeback)…so he is saving himself for the playoffs. Don’t assume that just because he doesn’t , doesn’t mean he can’t. He can and will do it more come playoff time. But if he doesn’t have to in a regular season game why should he?

    -I am going to combine the two about his defense into one thing. He doesn’t have to expand as much energy in regular season games because he has plays around him who can pick up the slack in Miami, he didn’t in Cleveland. Again its him not needing to, not him being not able to. He can guard centers for short amounts of time, he has done it. Hes not going to do it every single play but he can do on a situation basis. He limits most players when he goes 1 on 1 vs them. I firmly believe that while he wasn’t capable of shutting down KD last year, he gave him problems, more problems then pretty much any defender in the league could give KD. No one can stop KD though.

    -Look at the amount of games he just missed it by 1 or 2 in a stat and tell me that if that is what he cared about he couldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be great for team play, but he could do it.

    -If hes not the best then who is better?

    -If hes playing the best basketball of his life, which I submit to you that he is, then I fail to see your point.

    -He had no post game in the sense that he would rather shoot jumpers when defended, not in the sense that he couldn’t get to the rim. His post game got a lot better once he worked on in the summer. Link me, and I will take a look. But I remember the media asking Coach Spro if Lebron could improve on one thing what would he have him improve on and he said his post game. So…I think that shows my point right there.

    What I want to know is why you are out to bash Lebron. Is he not playing well enough for you? Do you hate the Heat? What is your agenda?

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 24, 2013, 7:24 pm
    • “Even if he has lost a step, its not much of one…”

      So you agree with me, that’s a good start.

      “He doesn’t have to expand as much energy in regular season games because he has plays around him who can pick up the slack in Miami”

      You’ve got to be kidding me. The Cavaliers were a better defensive team than the Heat. And how do you even pick up the slack on defense? What does than even mean?

      “He can guard centers for short amounts of time, he has done it.”

      He can’t guard Hibbert. Every time he has tried, Hibbert either scored or got a good opportunity. He has also never tried to guard Bynum, because he can’t. He had some nice weak side blocks on him, but that’s it.

      “more problems then pretty much any defender in the league could give KD”

      He does a good job, but you are really circumventing everything I argued about.

      “and tell me that if that is what he cared about he couldn’t do it.”

      He averages around 8 rebounds and 7 assists. And again, “caring about” implies sabotaging the natural flow of his game and that of the team. Not a good idea.

      “If hes not the best then who is better?”

      I’m now sure that you don’t know what a strawman is and that you aren’t reading what I’m writing.

      “If hes playing the best basketball of his life, which I submit to you that he is, then I fail to see your point.”

      You can play your best without doing everything better than ever before. Like I said about 7 times now.

      “His post game got a lot better once he worked on in the summer.”

      There is a difference between no post game and getting better. It’s called nuance or relavtive comparison. Try it.
      One of Moorheads articles:
      http://www.nba.com/heat/news/evolution_post_game_110412.html

      “So…I think that shows my point right there.”

      No, it shows my point.

      “What I want to know is why you are out to bash Lebron”

      Maybe you are mentally ill.

      “Is he not playing well enough for you?”

      I don’t care how good he plays. I know that he plays about as good as anyone has played since Jordan in the early 90s.

      “Do you hate the Heat?”

      I don’t care about them.

      “What is your agenda?”

      Intersubjective analysis of the development of one man’s game, as described here in a few posts. Your agenda on the other hand is to make LeBron look like a god who is perfect.

      Posted by Chris | February 24, 2013, 8:58 pm
  30. They were a better defensive team? Lebron and a bunch of scrubs were a better defensive team then the Heat’s current system? How did their “defense” do for them in the playoffs got them to many NBA finals? Oh wait, it didn’t…Lebron got them to one finals. Him and a bunch of scrubs. Currently he plays with two other top 15 players who are both better defenders then what he had in Cleveland. Miami plays team defense and they create a lot of turnovers and fast break chances. Defense won the team the title last year and helped get them to the finals the year before(and was also a major reason they lost to Dallas, as they blew two huge 4th Q leads, costing them 2 games.)
    Surely you are not valuing regular season results over playoff results. Chicago is a perfect example…for all they play well in the regular season, they don’t play good enough defense to make up for the fact that they only have one player that can really create his own shot. Look at what Miami does on defense when its engaged, sure it takes nights off but you have to compare teams at their peek. Numbers don’t tell the entire stor, sometimes you have to watch games.

    I don’t agree with you that he has lost a step, I said even if he has(which is not an agreement) so what?

    I agree with you that on most nights, its better for him to gain stats within the flow of the game and not hurt his team…which is what I said before. However he is capable of getting a triple double on many nights if that is what he cared about. Just because he chooses to play team ball, it shouldn’t take away from the fact that he is capable of doing it.

    What is he not doing better then before that you can prove other then FT’s?

    Alright I see the problem here. Its how I define post game and how you define post game. I say that Lebron used to fall back on a jumper that he wasn’t great at hitting, and now he is more likely to drive in and attempt to score from close range or to kick out to an open player. That is a vast improvement. This season he can take the jumper if he wants because hes learned to hit them at a much higher rate, which I think Ray Allen deserves credit for.

    The article was written before the playoffs and didn’t take them into account. If I recall correctly from watching every game he posted up a lot more then he did in the regular season. He is posting up more at times this year as stats show, but he has a jumper to go with it now.

    My agenda is to defend Lebron from people that bash him for every little thing. now that people can’t say he hasn’t won a ring, they try and nitpick other areas of his game. Most (but not all) of those people are huge Kobe fans, trying to make themselves feel better about the fact that Kobe isn’t the best in the game anymore, and that hes not going to be a better player all time then Lebron.

    And I never said Lebron was perfect, I said that hes improved his game, and is playing the best basketball of his life. I have also said that he deserves to win hes 4th MVP this year. He could be a better free throw shooter, but that is his one major weakness at this point.

    Also part of breaking down a player…is pointing out the positives in his game…you just point to all the bad things, or things that you think are bad.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 25, 2013, 8:20 pm
    • “They were a better defensive team?”

      Yes, you can look it up if you want. Considering that the Heat are around 10th in defensive deficiency this season, my argument builds itself.

      ” How did their “defense” do for them in the playoffs got them to many NBA finals?”

      It’s what got them to the 2007 playoffs, because even “game 5 against Detroit LeBron” can’t win with those teamates if they don’t play defense. In case you have forgotten, Mike Brown is a great defensive coach and those Cleveland teams were really great defensively.

      “Currently he plays with two other top 15 players who are both better defenders then what he had in Cleveland.”

      I take Vareyao over Bosh on defense, thank you.

      “Defense won the team the title last year and helped get them to the finals the year before”

      It was mainly their offense against the thunder especially, considering that OKC did score rather well against them.

      “but you have to compare teams at their peek”

      I take the Cleveland defense at its peak.

      “Surely you are not valuing regular season results over playoff results”

      There was only one playoff series the Cavs lost because of defense and that was against a red hot Orlando 3 point offense with Dwight playing the best playoff series of his career.

      “I don’t agree with you that he has lost a step, I said even if he has(which is not an agreement) so what?”

      Then you haven’t seen him until 3 years or so ago, because everybody who has been following his career can see that LeBron has lost athleticism – I mean, he was once the best athlete in the NBA, but that’s Westbrook now.

      “it shouldn’t take away from the fact that he is capable of doing it.”

      A lot of guys could have done that, if they wanted to, like Bird, Magic, Jordan or Grant Hill.

      “I say that Lebron used to fall back on a jumper that he wasn’t great at hitting”

      …you have never seen LeBron before 2010, right? Watch some 2009 playoffs and educate yourself.

      “What is he not doing better then before that you can prove other then FT’s?”

      I wrote a whole post answering that! Look it up god damnit!

      “defend Lebron from people that bash him for every little thing”

      So did you take what I have written as bashing? How blind are you?

      “the fact that Kobe isn’t the best in the game anymore”

      Kobe was the best player in the league in 2006 and 2007, – and even that’s debatable – so that’s a very odd thought to begin with.

      “is pointing out the positives in his game”

      See, that’s the reason I call you blind or mentally ill, because you have to have serious issues to get that picture from what I have written.

      Posted by Chris | February 25, 2013, 9:43 pm
  31. Your wrong about the Heat’s defense. According to NBA.com Miami’s defensive rating which is defined as points allowed per 100 possessions, is 3rd in the NBA at 88.1, a bit behind Indiana and Memphis. And Miami is the best clutch team this season and its not even close, so I am not sure where you get 10th from. Miami has played 125 clutch minutes this season so far and they have outscored opponents by 101 points. The next closest team has outscored opponents by 52 points. SA is at plus 34 and OKC is at plus 13. When tied or behind in the clutch Miami is at plus 71. Which goes to my point about them having an outstanding defense and leads back to last year’s finals. Miami clamps down on defense when the game is close late, which is why they have the best clutch rating in the league. Their defense sparks their offense, it often leads to fast break chances, or open shots. Last year vs OKC…there were a number of situations that Miami had to play great defense and they did. Which was what they didn’t do in 2011 vs Dallas.

    You mentioned that Miami’s offense has won them games this year and that is true. They have the best offensive rating in the league scoring 123.9 points per 100 possessions, combined with the 3rd ranked defense it is a scary combo to have to deal with. And I am of the belief that Miami hasn’t peaked yet, I think they will keep getting better as they get ready for the playoffs. I think they could be top in both offense and defense by the end of the season.

    Miami plays a different defensive style then most teams, to make up for their lack of big front line players. They swarm the ball, focusing on creating turnovers, and when they do that they are almost unbeatable. They are very much a team defense which is why they can play the same style of defense with many different player combos out on the floor. It starts and ends with Lebron and D-Wade though, they make it all possible.

    The major knock on Miami is their rebounding, which is unfair since they have proven that they can rebound pretty evenly with bigger teams. and also that isn’t a stat that really corelates with wins and losses. Turnovers on the other hand make a huge difference. Why? Because their defense feeds their offense, both with fast break dunks and layups and with open 3 point shots.

    Sometimes I wonder if you only look at box scores instead of watching the games. I see or listen to almost every Heat game and I have been to a number of them in person. I also follow the local coverage of them as well as places like here and ESPN.

    We can go back and forth on this, and I don’t mind doing so, but lets do it respectfully please. Also I invite others to give their view on this issue.

    I look forward to your response, its pretty rare that I get a good debate about basketball going.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 26, 2013, 10:24 am
    • “According to NBA.com Miami’s defensive rating which is defined as points allowed per 100 possessions, is 3rd in the NBA at 88.1, a bit behind Indiana and Memphis.”

      That is their defensive rating for the last 5 minutes or overtime with the score between +/- 5 either way. You probably don’t know it, but Cleveland was a better defensive team on average and they, just like the Heat this year, were outstanding in “clutch” time.

      “And Miami is the best clutch team this season and its not even close, so I am not sure where you get 10th from.”

      Season average. And yes, Miami has been the best team in the “clutch” this season, but they were bad in 2010/2011 and average last year. Those last two Cleveland teams outperform those Heat teams on average in the “clutch” or are comparable. Not that this is important anyway, because there are more than 5 minutes in an NBA game.

      “And I am of the belief that Miami hasn’t peaked yet, I think they will keep getting better as they get ready for the playoffs.”

      They have played their best regular season ball in february in all 3 of their seasons, so I doubt that. They will be better in the playoffs, but that’s a formality.

      “I think they could be top in both offense and defense by the end of the season.”

      Maybe in “clutch” situations, but they have no shot whatsoever to become a top 3 defense for the season.

      “Sometimes I wonder if you only look at box scores instead of watching the games.”

      I have seen every Heat game since LeBron got there…so please don’t use such silly arguments.

      Considering the rest of your post: You basically copy-pasted information from different Heat articles I’ve all read myself. I have also never disputed anything of that. So, just more STRAWMAN, coming from you.
      You have utterly failed to address my points, thus I have no inclination to speak with you “respectfully”. You don’t show me respect by making up strawman, ignoring what I write and definitely not by constantly changing the topic at hand.

      Posted by Chris | February 26, 2013, 11:44 am
      • Pretty sure that is there defensive rating for the entire game…but if you can find something saying otherwise please do share.

        I was under the impression that we were talking about this season and this season only. You contend that Cleveland had better defensive teams and I said no I don’t think they did. Now you are talking about other years in clutch time, and I have been clearly talking about this season. So we are comparing different things. This season, the one that is going on right now and matters Miami is the best clutch team in the NBA and its not even close…in fact to further show that…

        “And speaking of heat, did you know the leader in clutch time plus/minus among players with at least 10 field goal attempts, according to NBA.com’s stats, is … the Miami Heat? Seriously. The top five spots belong to LeBron, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Shane Battier.”

        Also remember that Miami’s coach is as much of a defensive coach as Mike Brown was/is…he teaches the Heat style of defense which is active hands to create turnovers, draw charges, and out hustle the other team. Everyone defends everyone, its not one on one defending, its team swarming the player with the ball.

        Fine…you are welcome to believe what you want to believe. Lebron will likely win his 4th MVP and unless someone gets hurt Miami should win another title. You can keep believing that Lebron was a better player in other years though.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | February 26, 2013, 4:05 pm
        • Try this: http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/teamstats

          “no I don’t think they did”

          Yes, you think, but you have no idea, because you can’t use data.

          “and I have been clearly talking about this season”

          You have been talking about the Heat in general. It’s not the right time to start cherrypicking on your part.

          “And speaking of heat,[...]”

          I read the same stuff you read and obviously much more. You should stop arguing against illusions and concentrate on my arguments. Maybe you would realize then, that I’m not disputing most of what you say.

          “Fine…you are welcome to believe what you want to believe. Lebron will likely win his 4th MVP and unless someone gets hurt Miami should win another title. You can keep believing that Lebron was a better player in other years though.”

          Yes. So when did I say something that was in conflict with any of that?

          Ah well, I like that you don’t want to continue with this, because it’s obvious that you are not only ignorant and stupid but also frustrating and annoying.

          Posted by Chris | February 26, 2013, 4:59 pm
          • I was just about to link the same website. From 2006 until James left, Cleveland ranked 5th, 13th, 2nd and 7th in points per 100 possessions. His Miami teams have been ranked 5th, 4th and, this year, 10th. Cleveland gave up fewer raw points, but the league as a whole scored fewer back then as well. Call this a wash.

            @Nightblade-I’m not sure what your problem with Chris’s statements were. Clearly some positive and some negative. It’s not some knock on the guy that he’s not as quick as he was when he was 24 or that he’s not as good at everything as he used to be-his game has clearly evolved-for the better in some ways, for the worse in others. I’m not convinced he is better than he’s ever been, either. He’s certainly more appreciated by the media, though.

            Clutch stats are almost irrelevant to overall outcomes. Fourth quarter stats have the least correlation to outcomes, and the second half of quarters has worse correlation than the first half. The clutch is the part of games where lore is made, but it’s not where games are actually won. Also, FTR, rebounding correlates very strongly to winning by almost any analysis I’ve ever seen-IMO it’s probably the most important of the basic box score statistics.

            @Chris-I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. However, the amount of name calling in your arguments is embarrassing. Do you talk to people this way in real life?

            Posted by lochpster | February 26, 2013, 5:42 pm
          • No, I normally never do that, but at some point it gets obvious that he either doesn’t read what I write or that he is just stupid, no other way around it. I mean, isn’t this one of the worst cases of selective reading reading/comprehension you have ever seen?

            Ah, by the way: That Heat defense sure was great tonight…

            Posted by Chris | February 26, 2013, 8:10 pm
          • Chris / Gil:

            “Ah, by the way: That Heat defense sure was great tonight…”

            Posted by Chris | February 26, 2013, 8:10 pm

            Please sustain the feeble facade that you are objective about LeBron and not merely a Kobe mythologist for more than a few weeks next time … it’s unbecoming (even of a quasi-anonymous internet antagonist) to carelessly drop such blatant clues after beseeching others to take you seriously when you argue otherwise …

            Also, casting aspersions on the cognitive abilities of others is for clowns … in the delightfully immortal words of Kevin Garnett, “paint your face, clown” …

            “Useless” Kobe Stats of the Day: in 15 career closeout games, Kobe has averaged 23.1 PPG on 39.7% FG shooting, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 3.1 turnovers in 40 minutes … on the losing end twice as often as he’s on the winning end … yeah, totally Top 5 …

            Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 8:33 am
          • Ken,
            With all due respect, where do you get the idea that Ken is a Kobe apologist? Chris didn’t have one positive thing to say about Kobe in the above posts. Based on the usual tenor of your posts, it is MUCH easier to cast you as a Kobe hater than Chris as a Kobe apologist.

            “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

            Posted by lochpster | February 27, 2013, 9:08 am
          • hmmm …

            chris / gil has dropped plenty of breadcrumbs to lead one to the conclusion that he’s a cloaked Kobe fan seeking to downplay the emergence of LeBron James as the rightful heir to MJ … it’s not that artful to evade detection by distracting some with a few meaningless “criticisms” of his hero here and there … the thrust of his intentions seem less hazy for me than you, apparently …

            Irrespective, I don’t take your labelling me a “Kobe hater” as the slight you might imagine … I’ve been 100% transparent regarding my intentions on this site … to discuss basketball, but mostly to illuminate the horseshit mythology regarding Kobe Bryant and his career, and to also champion the historical greatness of Michael Jordan and now LeBron James (I’m also a Kawhi Leonard fan, as I have noted before) …

            On Kobe, the myths far outweigh the reality … whether it’s you (Lochpster) or anyone else, I’ll happily bring to bear an unrelenting fusillade of major failures on Kobe’s part any day of the week to obliterate the Kobe mythology, to pound salt into the “Kobe = Top 10 or Top 5″ topsoil of the dreams of rounding errors like chris / gil … that’s all … and that’s just the way it is with me …

            if anybody wants syrupy-sweet delusions regarding kobe, lakersgound.net is open 24/7 …

            Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 9:24 am
          • And for the record, if you count yourself a “general basketball fan” (which I recall you doing in the past, as well as indicating that you are a Bulls fan?) and you don’t have a viscerally negative reaction to a guy like Kobe getting phantom calls EVERY SINGLE GAME, avoiding foul calls EVERY SINGLE GAME on the offensive and defensive end with excessively physical play that would foul out any other player in the first quarter, all the while his fans argue that he’s actually the victim of more blown calls than any other player in NBA history, than maybe you’re also (inadvertently?) concealing your true intentions here?

            Nobody in the Top 10 has failed as miserably as this guy has in his career … NOBODY. If I’m wrong about that, I’ll await your presentation of the other player(s) who have demanded to be taken seriously as “the man”, but somehow also managed to conclude at least 1/4 of their career seasons with 28+ point blowout losses … yeah, he’s sure a great winner and a great leader of men …

            Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 9:32 am
          • Well Ken,you are almost as “stupid” as that NIGHTBLADEHUNTER guy. And I really don’t care if you think that I’m not allowed to use words like “stupid”, because IMO they fit perfectly.

            So let’s get through this, shall we?

            *I* was the one who told Gil that he comes off as a Kobe apologist and told him it might be better for him to leave the site.

            *I* said that LeBron is playing the best ball since early 90s MJ.

            I also said that the Heat haven’t played consistent defense this year and I used last night as a fitting example. Nothing more.

            Instead of stigmatizing me as a hater, why don’t you deconstruct my arguments thoroughly and tell me exactly where I am hating on whom in which way, ok?

            Until you do that, you are just a “stupid” guy.

            Posted by Chris | February 27, 2013, 12:57 pm
          • it’s not a matter of being “able to” use certain pejorative words; of course, you are free to behave any way you wish to, and to use any language you care to, so long as you don’t violate whatever TOS a site might impose upon its users.

            for some (full disclosure: i’m actually not offended or affronted by your language in the slightest; it’s frankly “Rated G” by my personal standards), it just reflects poorly on:

            1) your (in)ability to synthesize complex conditions and harness rational analyses in making your arguments, and:

            2) your (in)ability to objectively analyze data while maintaining your composure.

            by extension, perhaps this behavior raises questions about your general judgement when it comes to these substantive debates regarding certain players … bottom line: many people see attacks and conclude that you cannot prevail on the merits of your arguments, so you resort to bullying rhetoric …

            as to your specific points:

            1. yes, you “told” Gil to go … if you think that is unambiguous evidence that you are not, in fact, the very same person that you banished, you are missing the boat … if the individual who previously posted here as Gil wanted to continue posting, but had burned the well with his pervasively ridiculous and nebulous railings against anything that undermined his Kobe worship, what better way to do so than by inventing a new identity and using that new identity to feign support for the general consensus opinion that Gil was a Kobe mythologist / apologist and finally send his old identity out into the wilderness?

            2. you have no real choice in the matter; most have already taken that position, which leaves you / Gil and Boyer left to tilt at the windmills defending Kobe’s role in the post-MJ world; once more, directly arguing AGAINST the position that LBJ is the best since MJ would raise the antenae of many here …

            3. i agree that the Heat defense has left a lot to be desired in many games this REGULAR SEASON; the difference is that you are implicitly arguing that it’s a permanent effect, and i think the playoffs will bring Heat defense no worse than what we saw in last season’s playoffs … i know that’s hard for you to hear, but as Nightbladehunter stated earlier, the only thing likely to impede another ring for the Heat is a season-ending injury to LBJ, the most valuable player in the NBA since Michael Jeffrey Jordan …

            signed,

            stupid guy

            Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 1:52 pm
          • Ken, you LIAR!

            Posted by Gil Meriken | February 27, 2013, 1:53 pm
          • “1) your (in)ability to synthesize complex conditions and harness rational analyses in making your arguments, and:”

            Well, give me an example where I used an insult instead of a discussion point. Those insults came after I made my point and after those same points were ignored.

            “2) your (in)ability to objectively analyze data while maintaining your composure.”

            Oh, I have definitely lost my composure by now.

            “about your general judgement when it comes to these substantive debates regarding certain players”

            Sure, I am all emotional here. That way it should be easy for you to destroy my arguments.

            “so you resort to bullying rhetoric …”

            Poor nighty and Ken are getting bullied. Can I be sure that the two of you aren’t the same? Nah, I’m not paranoid after all.

            “if you think that is unambiguous evidence”

            Of course not, but that is not how rational thought works. As Popper notes, one needs reasons to form a thesis. You don’t have any hints. I haven’t said anything negative about LeBron without giving fair analysis and lochpster agreed with my points. I already challenged you to correct me, so please go ahead and do so or skip this charade.
            And I don’t think that Gil’s writing style is even close to mine, neither is the way I construct my sentences or my arguments. Considering that english isn’t my mother tongue you should have noticed that by now – you know, if you were actually looking, instead of blindly accusing somebody of making up a buffoonery.

            “directly arguing AGAINST the position that LBJ is the best since MJ would raise the antenae of many here …”

            So your only argument is that I’m just trying to look like an intersubjective observer…I’m starting to wonder who is fighting windmills here.

            “that you are implicitly arguing that it’s a permanent effect,”

            No. They don’t seem to care this season and they are playing Joel less minutes and Ray and Rashard more. With Bosh at center and Wade injured at the beginning of the season, it’s really what one should expect. So again, show me where I allegedly made the implicit statement that it would be permanent.

            “and i think the playoffs will bring Heat defense no worse than what we saw in last season’s playoffs”

            Probably.

            “the only thing likely to impede another ring for the Heat is a season-ending injury to LBJ”

            At no point did I ever write about the Heats’s chances, or LeBron’s for that matter, to win the championship this season. That’s just another strawman, one of the dirtiest tricks people use, if they don’t have anything else to say.

            “signed, stupid guy”

            Yes, you are and I really mean it.

            Posted by Chris | February 27, 2013, 2:14 pm
          • Here are my Top 3 clues (I won’t bother to cite herein, but they’re all represented just in this blog’s comment thread):

            1. You have described traditional box score metrics as “archaic”, which was the very same term Gil used to degrade basic statistics … most believe that they’re incomplete, but very few dismiss them out-of-hand the way you do, Chris / Gil.

            2. You have tipped your hand in multiple posts here that you place (seemingly great) value in TS%, FT shooting, and longevity … well, guess what? These were common underlying thematic issues in most of Gil’s posts defending Kobe in comparison to other greats … is it just coincidence that you both gravitated to the only data points that SOMEWHAT keep Kobe in the neighborhood with the LBJs and MJs of the NBA?

            3. On repeated occasions in your debate with Paulie, you struck back at some imaginary foe (the “albeit” comments, i’ll label them for future reference) that only existed in previous debates between Gil and others …

            by the way, sequence doesn’t matter to me on this issue … your argument derailed into anger and silly name calling … does it really even matter whether you made good points before you went off the tracks?

            Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 2:36 pm
          • “You have described traditional box score metrics as “archaic””

            They are. I have also cited other models and statistics, each of them loving LeBron. Besides ASPM, I have actually cited mostly stuff that hates Kobe, like RAPM, xRAPM or WP.

            “You have tipped your hand in multiple posts here that you place (seemingly great) value in TS%, FT shooting,”

            I place great value on efg%, as I have stated multiple times and I also like TS%, because getting to the free throw line is a very important part of winning, as is *generally* asumed in advanced metrics circles. I have *never* put a premium on actual free throw shooting and you won’t find a post from me saying that it is important. It obviously helps, but getting to the line is most important – unless you are Biedrins.

            “SOMEWHAT keep Kobe in the neighborhood with the LBJs and MJs of the NBA?”

            Even poeple that hate Kobe, like the wages of wins guys, always remind people that it is a great skill and that Kobe is really good at it. So excuse me for making a salient point even Kobe haters don’t try to hide; I didn’t use it in any relation to Kobe by the way.

            “On repeated occasions in your debate with Paulie, you struck back at some imaginary foe”

            ? Sorry, but I don’t understand what your hinting at. Is it the phrase or what am I missing here?

            “does it really even matter whether you made good points before you went off the tracks?”

            Of course, unless you want to paint me as somebody who can’t form rational arguments and is just ranting…but you wouldn’t have such an agenda, right?

            It’s also of note that you don’t seem to care, that nighty just ignored or misinterpreted everything I said and that I only came up with insults, because he acted haughty and superior, albeit being clueless about what was even being discussed.
            You on the other hand have a vendetta against somebody who isn’t here anymore and I’m the victim, because I’m trying to offer measured analysis on a site made for that purpose.
            I’m sorry that I don’t think that Kobe is horrible and that LeBron is a god. I think LeBron is vastly superior compared to Kobe. I think that LeBron has been the best player in the league for 5 years now, if not 6. I don’t think that LeBron is a choker. I basically ignore “clutch” if I’m allowed to. Etc. When I came here I feared I might be seen as a fan of LeBron, instead of somebody being neutral, but I had no reason to worry in hindsight.

            Posted by Chris | February 27, 2013, 2:59 pm
          • ultimately, i don’t think it matters much whether you are Gil or a distinct second party … i’ll take you at your word that you are not the same person, and FTR i enjoy reading most of your arguments. i look forward to reading more of what you have to share with users of this site.

            Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 3:36 pm
          • Alright.

            As an addendum to this “clutch” thing: The Cavs in 08/09 outscored opponents by 39.9 points/100 possessions in the “clutch” (last 5 minutes, score +/- 5 or overtime) – shoutout to Moorehead for that info.

            So I guess this Heat team has to be satisfied with being the second best “clutch” team since 1996.

            Posted by Chris | February 27, 2013, 4:00 pm
          • Super frustrated with the discourse on this website recently. Nightblade and Ken, you sit there accusing someone else of having an agenda while ADMITTING that you have an agenda. WTF are you guys thinking?

            The whole goal of this website is analysis-breaking down data to better understand it. You CANNOT do this if your stated goal for being on here is to defend Lebron or hate on Kobe.

            I understand, Ken, why you were so frustrated by Gil. He drove me nuts. A total disregard for others’ thoughts, objectivity, and evidence highlighted by obvious agenda-driven writing. Yet here you are, doing the same things, and even worse, you’ve admitted it, really undermining your credibility on this site.

            Posted by lochpster | February 28, 2013, 5:23 am
          • i guess my mother was right after all … you cannot please everyone all of the time.

            lochpster … i don’t apologize for my beliefs. i proactively express my constatly-evolving position (we can call it an “agenda”, if you like … the reality is, it’s not a rigid set of beliefs that cannot be adjusted by new information) to forestall any confusion regarding where i presently stand …

            however, i will nevertheless mind your comments when posting going forward … like most others (i imagine), i’m only interested in contributing to the exchange of ideas here if others find some value in those contributions …

            Posted by Ken | March 1, 2013, 10:38 am
          • lochpster, i forgot the most important part of my response … i don’t even care a little bit if another poster has an “agenda” … that’s not what i’m addressing when i debate with others that i refer to as “kobe mythologists” … my issue is that i believe, based on a multitude of discrete data points, that their agenda is undergirded by silly true believer views of their hero … and i believe that contraevidence is so overwhelming against the position that he’s as great as they seem to believe …

            i don’t think that makes me a hypocrite …

            Posted by Ken | March 1, 2013, 10:42 am
          • lastly … sorry for the stilted responses … as great as i think michael jordan and lebron james are (and how much more impactful on the game than kobe has been), i hardly think they are perfect, gods, or somehow impervious to valid criticism … by way of example, i think lebron’s failure to impose himself against dallas in the 2011 finals and to stay “in the game” vs. boston in the 2010 ECFs were significant strikes against his record; i also think michael jordan had bad games (even in critical playoff settings) where he was only bailed out by teammates …

            but let’s drop this unreasonableness that those who champion or defend lebron and/or MJ are EQUALLY irrational as kobe mythologists … anyone paying close enough attention understands what i’m alluding to … the irrational fervor of kobestans has never been seen with another professional athlete …

            Posted by Ken | March 1, 2013, 10:49 am
          • Ken,
            Thanks for your points. However, I just can’t buy into the idea that Kobe fans are somehow more irrational than fans of just about anyone else. It happens to any iconic athlete whose teams are at the peak of their profession.

            The latest example is Joe Flacco. Folks are talking about him as an elite QB in the NFL based on his career playoff record, 4 game hot streak, and Super Bowl victory (as if he was the exclusive owner of a Super Bowl ring). Yet his career and most recent season numbers scream mediocre, and the Ravens rushing game and defense both ranked significantly higher than their passing game last year. As with the top scorer in the NBA, it’s the QB in the NFL who, wrongly, gets an unfair portion of the credit from the mythologists.

            Fortunately, as Kobe becomes less relevant, his mythologists will start the slow fade into obscurity. It’s already happening, thankfully. And on this website, for the moment, there are no Kobe fans left. So realistically, you’ve probably won your fight.

            Posted by lochpster | March 4, 2013, 5:20 am
          • i firmly disagree that Kobe mythologists are no more irrational than fans of any other individual athlete in history; though essentially immeasurable, i actually think it’s one of the more rock-solid maxims in all of sport …

            imagine a gnashing-their-teeth army of Joe Flacco fans arguing that he’s better than Tom Brady AND Joe Montana … or, perhaps more on point, Alex Rodriguez fans arguing that he’s better than Miguel Cabrera (right now) AND Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth (for his career) …

            it’s lunacy …

            Posted by Ken | March 4, 2013, 8:57 am
  32. Oh…also Lebron is having his best season FG% wise and its a pretty big improvement.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 26, 2013, 10:25 am
  33. ^^^ see …

    Posted by Ken | February 27, 2013, 1:53 pm
  34. I dont like adding free throws into the mix when it comes to tallying up someones e shooting percentage or whatever the fuck , as ken has stated before kobe is the beneficary of alotta bullshit calls, and he and metta world war are allowed to body up players likes its the 90′s and they get nothing called on them, shit I saw tonight kobe fuckin fall out of bounce trying to hard to drive and it was a foul on the wolves, I saw rubio get called for some punk ass blocking foul out on the perimeter then see bryant hack the fuck out of him and get not a damn thing called on him, not only that kobe can get a technical damn near every game , he gets away with alot, that finger pointing and yelling at the ref gets lesser players ejected, fuck the refs man.

    Posted by samtotheg | February 28, 2013, 10:05 pm
    • Lol, the piling on continues. Part of a player’s effectiveness is his ability to get to the line and score points. You may think that’s cheap, but that’s not the bottom line-it is definitely part of the outcome. If you think he gets more calls than other superstars, you may be right, but I’d like to see some evidence to support your claim. After all, every NBA fan thinks the rests are out to get their team.

      Also, please link the data that volume scoring doesn’t translate to winning. My understanding was that it does indeed do so, albeit not as strongly as a few other stats. But I’m always willing to learn.

      Posted by lochpster | March 1, 2013, 9:30 am
  35. and for the record, I agree with ken, kobe is not top 5 or top 10 , fuck in fact I am willing to say hes barely out of the top 20, He has never been the best player in the league at any point in any season, and when he does what he does best (volume score) it doesnt really translate to winning basketball.

    Posted by samtotheg | February 28, 2013, 10:10 pm
    • thanks, samtotheg!

      i have kobe in my top 20, but largely on account of his sustained high level of play (i agree with others that longevity should play some role in the calculus of assessing all time greats) … i always find value in paulie’s assessments in forming more comprehensive lists, but i generally have kobe in the 12 – 18 range and i’m guessing he’ll probably fall into the 14-15-16 sequence at the end of his career (for me) …

      i think his 1 regular season MVP (in 16+ seasons), which actually should have gone to CP3, speaks to our shared view on his career …

      Posted by Ken | March 1, 2013, 11:19 am
  36. lochpster, i agree that there is SOME intrinsic value in “getting to the line” (offset to some degree by systemic ref bias that results in certain players, kobe prominent among these, getting many opportunities for “free” points where the opportunities were not warranted) …

    as for “evidence” that kobe gets more of these than others, of course you should know that there is no such thing (existing today) as evidence that a subjective event (e.g., a called foul on non-contact benefitting kobe with two FT; or a non-call on kobe hammering an offensive player with his flailing arms toward the ball) was incorrect … anecdotally, the evidence is pretty overwhelming … the only way to prove it, that i know of, is to sit with a person who disagrees and draw their attention to the acts (physical contact or lack thereof) within the event (foul call or no foul call) …

    i won’t bother to explain why i think points derived from technical free throws (on things like illegal defense, differing from flagrant foul points) shouldn’t count toward a players point total … these should be “team points” … i’m guessing kobe has at least 1 – 3% of his career points from technical FT?

    as for your defense of volume scoring, i’m guessing you believe (as i do) that allen iverson is much closer kobe in the ranking of all-time greats than many others seem to place him … ?

    Posted by Ken | March 1, 2013, 11:09 am
    • Of course, I agree with you that you can’t provide evidence for a subjective event. All veteran, “superstar” players get away with a lot of things they shouldn’t, which is why I have trouble discounting actual results of things that happen on the court. The image most indelibly burned into my mind is Michael Jordan’s final shot-if we discount that, perhaps MJ has only 5 titles, and NBA history is forever altered.

      I am moving away from making an all-time ranking list. I’m just not sure how to compare players at different positions with different teams in different eras.

      If you’re looking back at a combo of team and individual results, Jordan’s got the best resume. But then again, was his success due in large part to two top 50 all-time teammates and a top 3 all time coach and a whole lot of coddling from the refs? I think so! Is Jordan truly the GOAT, or did he just fall into the perfect situation for a supremely talented arrogant A-hole who couldn’t have thrived in any other role.

      How many titles does MJ or Kobe win with the 76ers Iverson was on? Probably none, IMO. How would Jordan or Iverson have handled Kobe’s second fiddle job on the Lakers? Probably not well, in either case, but i suspect each wins a few titles on the Shaq express. In terms of individual production, I believe Jordan>Kobe>Iverson no matter where they play.

      Tim Duncan never really had the kind of support MJ did in Chicago and never had the same level of peak dominance or exposure. But he had Pop, stability, and a very good evolving supporting cast. Nonetheless, Duncan’s been the best PF in the league and is still an All-Star starting caliber player despite having already played more games than Jordan did in his career. How do you really compare these two? What of Garnett, every bit as talented as Duncan but lost in the wasteland that was Minnesota for most of his career? Had KG been a Bull and Jordan a Timberwolf, perhaps KG is the GOAT.

      What of the elite defenders? Well, an elite post defender/rebounder is much harder to find than an elite scorer, so you could easily make the argument that if you’re building around one player, you’d do better with Bill Russell, Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman than with Kobe or Iverson or even Jordan. Sacrilege!

      http://skepticalsports.com/?p=1397

      I didn’t really answer your question. Jordan, Kobe and Iverson are all more or less the same player. Jordan’s clearly the best of them, and Kobe is clearly better than Iverson. By how much, I just can’t say, since I’ve retired from list-making. FTR, Slam ranked MJ at 1, Kobe at 10 and Iverson at 40, so Kobe is arithmetically closer to Jordan but geometrically closer to Iverson. Perhaps that’s the closest answer to reality I can give.

      Posted by lochpster | March 1, 2013, 3:36 pm
    • Worth noting-Lebron had his worst shooting night of the season. 4 of 14 from the floor. But he still managed to score 18 points, thanks to his 2 3 pointers and 8 of 12 free throw shooting. 18 points in 14 shots. Not so bad for the worst night of the year…

      Posted by lochpster | March 1, 2013, 11:45 pm
      • Your post goes to my point Lochpster…how is it that Lebron is a worse player when 14 points in the 4th Q and 18 points total with almost getting a triple double is his worst game of the season? It doesn’t make any sense to me. That was my entire issue with what Chris was saying. I think we are watching Lebron’s best season, maybe not scoring wise since he has to share the ball but I think in just about everything else.

        As for my “agenda”…its to correct people who are posting false info. I am a Heat fan, I have been a Heat fan my entire life since I live in South Florida, all of my favorite sports teams are Florida teams. I am even a Marlins fan, though I am currently pissed off at the ownership so I doubt I will be attending or watching many games this season. I say that to say that I read everything I can get my hands on about my teams, and I read a lot about the NBA overall.

        Lebron is shooting at a higher clip then he ever has, and he is making the correct basketball play most of the time now. I personally would like to see him go to the rim more, but as long as he keeps hitting jump shots at the rate he is hitting them its good either way.

        I believe that everyone has an agenda, some of us just admit it.

        I should also say that I like D-Wade better then I like Lebron, I remember the first title he brought the Heat with Shaq at his side

        Posted by nightbladehunter | March 3, 2013, 9:01 am
        • Also one other thing….

          “Especially when he’s assembling the best individual season statistically since Michael Jordan in 1988-89 or 1989-90 … and after he just became the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, way back in March 1983, to take more than 200 shots in a calendar month and make at least 64 percent of them.”

          That was said about Lebron today on ESPN.

          Posted by nightbladehunter | March 3, 2013, 9:04 am
          • That was written by Marc Stein, who has no clue about advanced stats and if he meant best by traditional stats, than it’s obviously wrong. LeBron was better at the beginning of march in the 2008/2009 season than this year, but than cooled off a little. I expect the same thing to happen again.

            Posted by Chris | March 3, 2013, 10:17 am
          • As to understanding advanced stats, I have some questions:

            Am I correct in that the advanced stats, like the “archaic” ones that proceeded them (and are still components of) measure the effectiveness within a given time frame? Hence, providing an era/seasonally based context?

            If this is so, could there be a bias that may lead to a “false positive”, if you will, due to the differences between eras and individual seasons?

            This occurred to me when listening to the rhetoric regarding voting Gonzaga as #1 and using their #9 RPI as justification. Gonzaga plays in a garbage conference and has played only 3 other ranked teams (going 1-2). Were Gonzaga in the Big 10, they would likely have a very difficult time finishing above 10-8. This doesn’t mean that Gonzaga is a lesser team, but the environment would have changed dramatically. It is far more difficult to get consecutive wins going through Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin than ANY of the teams that are presently on their schedule.

            To tie this in with advanced metrics:

            It is my BELIEF that the ear form 1957-1965 was a very formative one in which the league was very precarious and may have lost a great deal of talent to obstacles such as financial instability, racism, and competition form other sports. I think that the talent level increased dramatically from that in 1964-65, but was still far from an apex.

            Likewise, I BELIEVE that the presence of the ABA also affected the context of play as the league was too diluted with a competing league.

            If we look at the years from 1975-1979, we see a league that is stable, yet still struggling to gain market-share compared to other sports. I BELIEVE that they were getting the top basketball talent, but still not getting ALL the BEST talent (Dave Winfield, as an example)

            I BELIEVE that it could be argued that the NBA from 1980-1988 may have been the most competitive time in the NBA.

            My reasoning is thus:

            Stability and an increasing fan-base and media exposure that is pretty unprecedented for the NBA.

            A league that is now getting opportunities at a much larger talent pool COMBINED with fewer teams that today. Benches were a little deeper on each team and arguably more so on the better teams.

            While I also BELIEVE that the average player today is in far better condition and has a far better environment in which to perform, I do not think that this, in of itself, indicates that the players are, in fact, superior.

            I do BELIEVE that the level of play in the NBA today, on a whole is very good, I am NOT so convinced that, AS A WHOLE, it is better than from 1980-1989.

            I am not offering any evidence, but only presenting what I believe (which is very subject ot chnge with more and better evidence).

            Is it possible that certian individual players are more able to seperate themselves form the mean due to more players performing at an aggregately lower level than players from 1980-1988?

            Is it possible that the 7th through 112th players on each roster were better then than they are today?

            Is this measurable?

            If it is measurable, is there an adjustment that needs to be made to the formulas of advanced metrics to account for this?

            I am not arguing that James, or Durant, for example are NOT playing some of the best hoop ever seen (because they are!), but I AM asking if the metrics that tells us that their separation is SUBJECT to a bias that MAY create an illusion?

            One example could be that it is difficult to measure how impactful a Julius Erving would have been in the NBA as opposed to the ABA; likewise with David Thompson (who Durant reminds me of with his effortless play)

            I apologize if all this seems like a confused ramble.

            Maybe it is, but if anyone has an answer, please offer.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | March 3, 2013, 4:39 pm
          • “Am I correct”

            Of course, how would anything else be possible? Only what actually happens can be measured, so everything has to be accounted for under a specific set of rules, a specific environment and x idiosyncratic players with y idiosyncratic coaching staffs and franchises will always differ. So every stat measures a possession/game/season/career under special circumstances.

            “Stability and an increasing fan-base and media exposure that is pretty unprecedented for the NBA.”

            The NBA is more stable today, has a bigger fanbase today and has more media exposure today.

            “A league that is now getting opportunities at a much larger talent pool COMBINED with fewer teams that today. Benches were a little deeper on each team and arguably more so on the better teams.”

            8 teams less means 120 players less. Given there are more than 80 million more american citizens, dozens of millions of foreigners as an additional talent pool and that being a player is more lucrative today than back in the 80s, I somehow doubt your point apllies.

            “I do not think that this, in of itself, indicates that the players are, in fact, superior.”

            It’s a positive, no way around it. That alone obviously isn’t enough.

            “AS A WHOLE, it is better than from 1980-1989.”

            That’s pretty subjective, don’t you think? People who don’t like the drive and kick probably hate this era.

            “Is it possible that certian individual players are more able to seperate themselves form the mean due to more players performing at an aggregately lower level than players from 1980-1988?”

            I don’t really get that argument, even ignoring my previous post where I debunked the notion of worse players on average. The best players in the NBA, LeBron, KD, Kobe just to name a few, perform well against all teams, no matter how bad or good they are. I personally think it’s the exact opposite: Considering the slowed pace and the dropping number of overall isolation plays in today’s NBA, Star players don’t produce the same amount of mindblowing numbers and highlights on average and in singular games like they used to. There are almost no 50 point games anymore and avergaing 10 reb/game is rare. You can see this effect when the media talks about Wilt, Oscar and Russell, talking about 50 point games and tripple doubles in a way that makes it seem, as if today’s players are slackers.

            “Is this measurable?”

            You can’t measure skill, but the combine evalutions have shown, that players are becoming bigger, stronger and more athletic and that’s mainly compared to the 90s. Between the 80s and today are basically two athletic revolutions.

            “that their separation is SUBJECT to a bias that MAY create an illusion?”

            Considering that box-score metrics are based on league average, there is a generational bias. But those metrics aren’t designed to do that anyway – atleast in my mind, because I don’t use them that way.

            “One example could be that it is difficult to measure how impactful a Julius Erving would have been in the NBA as opposed to the ABA”

            That’s actually easy: He would have been worse in the NBA, because the ABA was a horrendous league. And I’m saying that as somebody who hates the 70s NBA.

            “David Thompson (who Durant reminds me of with his effortless play)”

            I don’t see it.

            “Maybe it is, but if anyone has an answer, please offer.”

            Your main point is salient. Player X has a PER of 30 in 1960. Player Y has a PER of 31 in 2010. This information shouldn’t be used to make the statement that player Y is better than player X, atleast I wouldn’t use it. But: If player X had a 4 point lead over the next best player and player Y had a 5 point lead over the next best player, I would make the case, based on this metric I don’t like, that player Y was more dominant/productive/effective relative to his competition.

            As lochpster said, making all time lists is a fruitless endeavour.

            Posted by Chris | March 3, 2013, 9:38 pm
          • “Stability and an increasing fan-base and media exposure that is pretty unprecedented for the NBA.”

            The NBA is more stable today, has a bigger fanbase today and has more media exposure today.

            Chris,

            I did not clarify this. I meant that the period from 1980-1980 compared to the time previous to it. Not a comparison to present day, to which I would agree that the league is at an all time high.

            As to the idea that all time lists are fruitless. . . I cannot agree. They may be subjective, but they can be fun.

            Unless there is some sour puss who must always be right.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | March 3, 2013, 10:53 pm
          • Chris,

            The manner in which Durant so smoothly catches the ball and the silken way it is released. . . quickly and accurately. Also, the way that he has this very subdued and quietly positive effect on the players around him.

            The only player that I have seen like that was David Thompson while in his early ABA days before the coke and Studio 54.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | March 3, 2013, 10:57 pm
        • Lebron is obviously incredible right now. That has nothing to do with whether he is better than, for instance, in ’08-09. IMO he’s much better at scoring efficiently and makes smarter plays with the ball, as you point out, (due in no small part to being surrounded by a much better offensive team). However, seems to me he has lost a step in terms of speed/quickness and is not the rebounder/defender he once was as a result. Also, the media is now fawning over him rather than dissecting him, which really helps his rep but has nothing to do with his on-court effectiveness.

          Then again, does it really matter? He was the best then, and he’s the best now.

          “I believe that everyone has an agenda, some of us just admit it.”

          True.

          Posted by lochpster | March 4, 2013, 4:49 am
          • agreed 100% with this.

            however, despite the outcomes (two wins) and despite his 4th quarter production in these games, i would give LeBron no better than C+ grades for the past two games, vs. Memphis and New York …

            and i have been insistent about this view of mine:

            when the mythologists gush about 4th quarter play, i argue that quarters 1, 2 and 3 matter, too.

            when the mythologists gush about “clutch” mumbo jumbo, i argue that baskets count just as much in the first minute of the game as the last minute …

            when the mythologists gush about high degree of difficulty shots, i argue that a layup or dunk yields the same number of points …

            my point? Kobe mythologists would have to change their pantalones 2x if Kobe scored 14 in the 4th, including a 3 point dagger with 24 seconds left to ice the game vs. Memphis, THEN followed it up with 12 points in the 4th, including a steal and dagger dunk to ice the game vs. New York in the next game … forget about his prolific rebound and assist numbers in those 4th quarters (upticks vs. his per game averages), or his huge block on a point-blank dunk attempt by Tyson Chandler vs. the Knicks ….

            Mythologists would be perseverating on those two games FOREVER …

            for me, C+ at best ….

            Posted by Ken | March 4, 2013, 9:11 am
          • 100% on board with the clutch nonsense. I’d be delighted if people would just stop talking about it altogether.

            The first and third quarter are statistically the most important in predicting wins. And the difference between a team that performs extremely well or extremely badly over the course of a season will still be only about 2 wins vs an average clutch team.

            Sadly, the announcers, who are supposed to be experts (and are in many ways), seem extremely slow to catch on to what many of the fans already know.

            Posted by lochpster | March 4, 2013, 12:30 pm
          • While I agree with the notion that “clutch” isn’t important, if it even exists, I nonetheless remember a study from Ken Pomeroy that concluded that the conventional wisdom – the game is decided in the 4th – is actually correct.
            That was obviously for college games and I have forgotten the exact parameters of that study, but I am really interested in that study you mentioned.

            Posted by Chris | March 4, 2013, 1:01 pm
          • Frankly, I’m hopeful that LeBron sits tonight … he seems gassed lately, and the Timberwhites pose a pretty low threat …

            (though i realize sitting would unfortunately screw the attendees in Minnesota, which sucks … personal story, I had seats maybe 5 rows off the floor, almost mid-court, @ Staples for a Spurs – Lakers game several years ago when Pop sat the stars … I was so disappointed) …

            Posted by Ken | March 4, 2013, 1:02 pm
          • I admit that I wasn’t as exposed to Lebron back then as I am now. Since they carry every single Heat game on t.v on Sun Sports, and if I can’t be home to watch it, I can normally listen to it on the radio. On an unrelated note, in terms of breaking down games, I think the Heat radio announcers do a better job then the Heat t.v announcers.

            How would one measure how effective a player is on defense, without seeing the context of the players around him? Lebron is playing with better players now then he did in Cleveland. That might mean he doesn’t have to put as much effort into defense, as he did back then, but I watch him guard the other’s team best player in many(but not every) game in the 4th Q and I think he does a good job. Now granted, he has better defenders imo around him, I think Wade is not given enough credit as a defender since Kobe keeps winning first team all NBA defense for some reason, but Wade is the best shot blocking guard in basketball, and hes pretty good at stealing the ball to.

            As for the stats…it said he took over 200 shots and made 64% of those shots. I fail to see how that can be taken out of context or be incorrect. Unless the information is incorrect, its simple math. He took X amount of shots in the month and he made X % of them.

            As for his grades in the two games in question, a C sounds about right by the standards he is capable of. He played an important role in the wins, but maybe not the key role. Including tonight’s game, these are the worst 3 games of his season IMO. I think he should take a game or two off and rest, but he won’t. Miami will need him in top form for Sunday’s game vs the Pacers so I would be ok with him not picking up a basketball to practice until then.

            The only thing with clutch is it comes down to pressure in big games, we have seen players crack as the moment gets bigger and bigger. We saw Lebron do it in the 2011 NBA finals, although I would argue that he was burnt out, and that Miami’s bad defense had as much to do with their loss as his bad stats did. Last year we saw him “rise up” when the game got tight, and make big players.

            It is of course narrative created by the media and by the fans, its not as much fun for the fans if games are over early on. Unless of course your team is on the winning side. I quite enjoyed the game five of the NBA finals last year. Knowing that the game was over by the 3rd Q left plenty of time to party while watching the ending.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | March 4, 2013, 8:51 pm
          • “without seeing the context of the players around him?”

            As I have already stated, I have no idea how you came to the conclusion that LeBron is surrounded by better defenders in Miami. The defense from the center spot and from the guard spots was on average better in Cleveland than in Miami. They also had a better defensive system, not this frantic rotation stupidity the Heat are employing, which only works in the playoffs with such an old team.
            Also, just fyi: LeBron was second in defensive player of the year voting in the 08/09 season.

            “I think he does a good job”

            He does. This hasn’t been about LeBron being bad at something, but being better at specific things in the past. He exerted more energy and used his superior athleticism more to his advantage in the past. I also subscribe to lochpsters statement that he has regressed as a rebounder, – despite the career high in RPG – because he clearly doesn’t give a **** about rebounding most of the time. Just tonight he didn’t get 5 rebounds were he had just to make one move towards it. Instead he leaked out early, complained to the ref, bobbled it multiple times or just stood there doing nothing. He of course ends up with 10 rebounds anyway, because he is gifted.

            “I think Wade is not given enough credit as a defender”

            While Wade has been certainly better on defense than Kobe has been over the last 5 years, his effort is to inconsistent to really give him all defense honors. He is also one of the worst transition defenders I have ever seen.

            “As for the stats…”

            Again, everybody has read that stuff. But you cited clutch team statistics and presented them as their performance average, which was just wrong.

            “these are the worst 3 games of his season IMO.”

            1st one against Portland and the one against Phoenix were he played sick were worse than those last two, but definitely in the same ballpark as the Memphis game. As I allready noted, LeBron often loses steam around this time of the year. The same happened the last 3 years. In two of those years he was, just like this year, on pace to break the alltime PER record, – which is utterly stupid, but that’s the topic for another post – but dropped from even higher heights than this year and failed to achieve that mark. The media praise for LeBron makes sense, but it has become blind adulation at this point, just like the hatred and the chiding before the title was nonsensical and downright bullying.

            “We saw Lebron do it in the 2011 NBA finals”

            LeBron played bad in the finals, period. We shouldn’t act as if he played well for 3 quarters in all those games – he did in 2 – and just disappeared all of a sudden. The story of the finals comes down to this: 1) The Mavericks used a triangle zone defense with a baseline anchor, which destroyed his rhythm.
            2) Chandler and Marion played great defense against his drives.
            3) His jumper, which had been on fire against Boston and Chicago, disappeared after the end of the 3rd quarter of finals game 1 and never came back.

            Looking back at the 2010/2011 playoffs, if not the whole season, it’s pretty obvious that the whole offense was designed in a way that limited LeBron, instead of enhancing his abilities like the current system. Even those Cleveland teams offered a better “system” for him. The dropoff between the Chicago and the Dallas series was mostly a result of being unable to hit ridiculous jumpers. It was fools gold and he ran out of it. The only question is if it was regression to the mean or if he just tightened up.

            “I would argue that he was burnt out, and that Miami’s bad defense had as much to do with their loss as his bad stats did”

            He wasn’t burned out, or atleast not more more than you would expect. The only situation were I would agree is in game 5 and 6, were Terry killed him. But I’m not sure if he really had no energy left or if he had just shut down mentally at that point.
            And the defense wasn’t good. If a Spurs-Heat matchup were to happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Heat would not be able to stop them. The same is obviously tru the other way around.

            Posted by Chris | March 4, 2013, 9:47 pm
          • @Chris-The data I was citing was from 2 different articles from ElGee at Backpicks.com. Sadly, the site is down for the time being.

            Could u link the Pomeroy article?

            Posted by lochpster | March 4, 2013, 9:51 pm
          • @Nightblade-I feel Lebron’s overall game-to-game effort level this year is less than it was the past few years. His Drtg is 5 points higher than it was last year despite playing a position where defensive numbers usually get better. Seems to me his effort is spotty-he absolutely CAN be the best defender in the league, but he generally doesn’t put in 100% effort.

            Similarly, his usage rating on offense is down as well, meaning he’s relying on his teammates to carry more of the load (not a knock, since his overall offensive effectiveness has gone up as has that of the team).

            Does any of this matter? Not really-it’s just smart strategy. He’s clearly pacing himself, a la Kobe or the Spurs for the past 10-15 years. The Heat have the first seed on autopilot. Come playoffs, Lebron can kick it into a new gear, smarter and with a deadly J. His upside is higher than it was at 24 despite some minor physical slippage, but that’s not what we’re seeing from game to game.

            Posted by lochpster | March 4, 2013, 10:33 pm
  37. lochpster, i think you had a question re: WARP a few days ago …

    i was deleting old links and came across a decent paper from pelton re: WARP, vis-a-vis last summer’s simmering dream team vs. 2012USA debate …

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2351&mode=print

    Posted by Ken | March 1, 2013, 11:55 am
  38. 4th quarters last two games …

    vs. Memphis Grizzlies
    14 points on 3/7 shooting
    4 rebounds
    4 assists
    Game sealing 3 pointer with 24 seconds left … plus, 4/4 on free throws in the final 10 seconds …

    @ New York Knicks
    12 points on 5/9 shooting
    5 rebounds
    3 assists
    Game-sealing steal + dunk with 24 seconds left …

    still C+ overall … his first 3 quarters in both games were pretty awful, especially by his standards and particularly in the Memphis game …

    Posted by Ken | March 4, 2013, 10:31 am
    • I’m getting the impression that LeBron is pretty beat up for about a week now and last night’s fall probably didn’t help.
      So I wouldn’t be surprised if the 08/09 will turn out to be better than the 12/13 season, not that the media will share that asessment. It’s really similar to Jordan: He was at his best in the late 80s, but was only heralded as the basketball messiah in the early 90s. LeBron and Jordan were even at the same ages in those two respective time periods.

      Posted by Chris | March 4, 2013, 11:42 am
    • for the sake of transparency, i grade Kobe a C- for last night’s debacle in OKC … and that’s generous based on his self-reported injury …

      30 pts on 8/19 shooting in 39 min.
      3 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 turnovers
      -11 in a LOSS

      4th Quarter: 2 pts on 1/5 shooting in 8 min.
      1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover
      -3

      he played horrendous defense throughout the game, though he held Durant in check on a few possessions; he was repeatedly torched by Westbrook over and over again, he failed to run back on defense on several occasions, and he stood around pointing at others to cover up for him on the rotation on the pivotal Ibaka 3 pointer …

      i don’t think that appraisal is inconsistent AT ALL with how i would evaluate LeBron or MJ playing a similar game in a loss … if anything, it may be a bit generous …

      Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 8:37 am
      • 30 points! suck an egg, hater!

        regards,

        kobe mythologists

        Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 8:42 am
      • Outside of those ridiculous shots that went in, he didn’t play well, true.
        But I’m not sure what you are doing here and why you are doing it.

        Posted by Chris | March 6, 2013, 10:26 am
        • the same thing i presume everyone else is “doing here” … exchanging thoughts and information regarding a personal interest (NBA basketball) …

          i get it … you “made” an anonymous contributor capitulate to your suggestion that they leave. that probably felt invigorating to you, i’m guessing by your question?

          rather than bring the ‘tude, perhaps you should refrain from acting as de facto moderator? i enjoy reading your expansive thoughts, but i suspect your are imbibing some false impression that you are better than others when you see an indication that they value your contributions.

          but, it’s just that, hombre … your contributions are valued; they’re not valued to the exclusion of all others.

          Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 10:48 am

          Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 10:49 am
        • for avoidance of doubt (though i believe i have always been clear on this issue):

          1. “what” – reading and contributing to the exchange of ideas in a public basketball forum;

          2. “why” – though you’re owed no explanation, it’s a personal interest.

          all of that said, i follow all TOS (you might want to consider doing so yourself when you’re name calling and lashing out at others for having to, heaven forbid, explain or clarify your somewhat nebulous positions) … i’ll read and comment at my discretion until such time as the site desists or an actual moderator prevents me from doing so …

          Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 10:57 am
          • No need to become paranoid again.

            I don’t have nebulous positions by the way.

            Posted by Chris | March 6, 2013, 11:32 am
          • i don’t think you know what “nebulous” actually means … in fairness, i’d dead certain you think you know what it means, but like what appears to be a great deal else when it comes to your profile, there’s a vast chasm between what you think and what is …

            Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 11:36 am
          • Your passive aggressive behaviour towards me is just perplexing. If you have a problem with me than lay it out. I know what nebulous means. I wonder if you know what verbal and material fallacies are, because you are an expert in that field.

            Posted by Chris | March 6, 2013, 12:04 pm
          • you’re haughty, ridiculously supercilious and i think your denial of being part of some odd dissociative identity disordered individual is laughably unbelievable to even the untrained eye … i also think your completely, 100% dishonest regarding your actual agenda in posting at this site … other than that, i like you.

            how does that work for you? in case the sarcasm misses the mark, my point is that i’m far from passive aggressive …

            my suggestion? i will refrain from ANY commentary on your posts as long as you reciprocate …

            Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 12:16 pm
          • * you’re …

            Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 12:17 pm
          • ” in case the sarcasm misses the mark, my point is that i’m far from passive aggressive ”

            Right. Some while ago it changed to aggressiveness. It’s also rather curious that you consider that drivel sarcasm, considering it’s the boiled down version of what you have been saying all along.

            ” i will refrain from ANY commentary on your posts as long as you reciprocate”

            So I will never hear from you again? I like that.

            Posted by Chris | March 6, 2013, 1:33 pm
  39. LeBron is easily best player in the leagure right now. He is getting better each season and you can tell he works hard on his weakest areas to make them stronger. A true champion, no-one has played they game of ball like Bron.

    Posted by 24 Second Clothing | March 5, 2013, 10:14 pm
  40. the same thing i presume everyone else is “doing here” … exchanging thoughts and information regarding a personal interest (NBA basketball) …

    i get it … you “made” an anonymous contributor capitulate to your suggestion that they leave. that probably felt invigorating to you, i’m guessing by your question?

    rather than bring the ‘tude, perhaps you should refrain from acting as de facto moderator? i enjoy reading your expansive thoughts, but i suspect your are imbibing some false impression that you are better than others when you see an indication that they value your contributions.

    but, it’s just that, hombre … your contributions are valued; they’re not valued to the exclusion of all others.

    Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 10:48 am
    • No, I’m just wondering if you are going to give out gamescores or marks every game now? Because if you really want to, we could open up a new thread, because those last few have been completely derailed.

      Posted by Chris | March 6, 2013, 11:30 am
  41. back on track …

    LeBron James | core advanced data | 2012/2013

    http://www.hoopdata.com/advancedstats.aspx?team=MIA&type=pg&posi=%&yr=2013&gp=0&mins=0

    LeBron James | core advanced data | 2008/2009

    http://www.hoopdata.com/advancedstats.aspx?team=CLE&type=pg&posi=%&yr=2009&gp=0&mins=0

    seems like the evolution of LeBron James has progressed quite nicely … by the way, y’all … get a good look @ that 2008/2009 Cavs roster (and that was one of his better surrounding talent pools while in Cleveland) …

    Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 3:46 pm
  42. back on track …

    LeBron James | core advanced data | 2012/2013

    http://www.hoopdata.com/advancedstats.aspx?team=MIA&type=pg&posi=%&yr=2013&gp=0&mins=0

    LeBron James | core advanced data | 2008/2009

    http://www.hoopdata.com/advancedstats.aspx?team=CLE&type=pg&posi=%&yr=2009&gp=0&mins=0

    seems like the evolution of LeBron James has progressed quite nicely … by the way, y’all … get a good look @ that 2008/2009 Cavs roster (and that was one of his better surrounding talent pools while in Cleveland) …

    Posted by Ken | March 6, 2013, 3:55 pm

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