"LeBron James is having a historical season, and it's time we all took notice"

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 9 years ago '05        #1
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BurninLz 31 heat pts31
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"LeBron James is having a historical season, and it's time we all took notice"
 

 
By John Hollinger
ESPN.com


In terms of the game's hallowed numbers, it doesn't quite resonate like, let's say, 50.4 -- Wilt Chamberlain's historic scoring average in 1961-62 -- or Oscar Robertson's 30-12-11 triple-double that same season.

But it's a big one at Hollinger HQ, anyway. That 31.89 mark is Michael Jordan's PER (player efficiency rating) from the 1987-88 season, the top mark for any season since the league started tracking individual turnovers in 1973-74. (We don't have enough information for seasons prior to that, unfortunately, so we can't properly evaluate Wilt or the Big O.)

nd it's an important figure at the moment because it's under a.ssault this season from LeBron James.

That James is playing well is hardly a secret -- virtually every writer in the country has him either first or second on the MVP ballot heading into the season's final stretch. But the vagaries of the game's stats have made it difficult to appreciate what a historically great season he's having.

James doesn't lead the league in a single individual category, and his scoring and rebounding numbers are both down from a year ago. Yet when one looks at his accomplishments in total, and adjusts for both his minutes and his team's pace, he's having one of the greatest seasons in league history.

On a per-minute basis, he's averaging more points, rebounds, a.ssists, blocks and steals than he did last season -- when he already was having a sensational season that included the league's best PER -- and is shooting better from the field, from the line and from 3-point range. Somehow, he's averaging fewer turnovers, too.

Add it all up and James' 31.69 PER through Sunday's games isn't only the best in the league, holding off a stern late charge by Miami's Dwyane Wade -- it's second only to Jordan in the past 35 years, and if James has a strong closing finish, it could end up as the best.

Even if he fails to match Jordan's all-time mark, he's already on hallowed ground. While Jordan's PER exceeded 31.0 on four different occasions, no other player in history had done it until James this season.

Nonetheless, the historic nature of James' campaign hasn't received nearly enough attention. His averages of 28.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.3 a.ssists are impressive, all right, but they don't look all that different from other seasons of recent vintage -- James' 30.0, 7.9 and 7.2 from a season earlier, for instance, or Larry Bird's 28.7, 10.6 and 6.5 in 1984-85, or Kobe Bryant's 35.4 points per game in 2005-06.

And on pure per-game totals, they pale beside Jordan's 32.5, 8.0 and 8.0 in 1988-89 ... let alone the Big O's triple-double in 1961-62.

TOP ALL-TIME PER SEASONS
Player Year PPG RPG APG MPG PER
Michael Jordan 1987-88 35.0 5.5 5.9 40.4 31.89
Michael Jordan 1990-91 31.5 6.0 5.5 37.0 31.79
LeBron James 2008-09 28.6 7.6 7.3 38.6 31.69
Michael Jordan 1989-90 33.6 6.9 6.3 39.0 31.31
Michael Jordan 1988-89 32.5 8.0 8.0 40.2 31.29
But that's one of the reasons I created PER -- it enables us to make comparisons between seasons much more easily than we could do otherwise, because it scales to the same league average each season (15.0) and automatically adjusts for factors like pace, minutes, and whether offense or defense was ascendant at the time.

Unfortunately for James, he plays in one of the slowest-paced eras in the league's history. Though things have picked up a bit the past few seasons, even run-and-gun teams like Golden State and Phoenix would be considered walk-it-up outfits if they played in the 1980s or '90s. Jordan's 1987-88 Bulls, for instance, were the league's slowest-paced team at a pace factor of 98.2 -- one that would rank fourth from the top in 2008-09, just ahead of the fabled Suns.

The comparisons get even more lopsided once you go further back in history -- when Chamberlain averaged his 50.4 points, for instance, the Celtics were the only team to give up fewer than 116 points per game.

Just for fun, then, I decided to convert everyone's numbers into the same terms as Jordan's 1987-88 season, just so we could have an apples-to-apples comparison of some of the league's greatest seasons in the "triple crown' categories of points, rebounds and a.ssists; as a guidepost, I also included each players' minutes per game and PER.

Historic seasons: Per-40-Minute stats at Chicago's 1987-88 Pace
Player Year PPG RPG APG MPG PER
Michael Jordan 1987-88 35.0 5.5 5.9 40.4 31.89
LeBron James 2008-09 32.2 8.6 8.2 38.1 31.69
Shaquille O'Neal 1999-00 30.4 13.9 3.9 40.0 30.62
Kobe Bryant 2005-06 36.3 5.4 4.6 41.0 28.11
Larry Bird 1984-85 27.3 10.0 6.3 39.5 26.54
As the chart shows, putting LeBron's current campaign at the pace of the 1987-88 season and pushing him back up to 40 minutes produces some extraordinary numbers -- on a per-possession basis, he's actually scoring nearly as much as Jordan did, with far superior ancillary numbers.

And if you want to go further back in history, check out what James' numbers would be if he was playing at the pace Robertson did back in 1961-62 -- we don't have exact figures because the NBA didn't keep very detailed numbers back then, but based on the shot data alone it would be in the range of a jaw-dropping 40, 10 and 10, as Neal Paine of Basketball-Reference.com found when he crunched the numbers.

Of course, pace is just one aspect of the comparison. We also have to deal with minutes, and this is one area where James falls short of his peers, believe it or not. Jordan averaged 40.4 minutes per game in 1987-88, and Bird played 39.5 in 1984-85; at the extreme end, Chamberlain played virtually every second of every game in 1961-62 -- because of games going to OT, he actually averaged 48.5 minutes per game that season.

This is partly because of how many blowout wins James' Cavs have had, but it's mostly a reflection of his era -- James' total, low as it seems in the chart, is actually fifth in the NBA this season. Teams have begun emulating the San Antonio Spurs' style of not overloading their best players with minutes and keeping them fresh for the postseason -- in fact, not one player averages as many as 40 minutes per game, an unthinkable state of affairs as recently as half a decade ago.

Unfortunately for James, it's another area where his numbers take a hit in historical comparisons. A season of 28.6, 7.6 and 7.3 sounds decent. A season of 30.3, 8.1 and 7.7 -- which is what his numbers extrapolate to if he played as many minutes as Jordan did in 1987-88 -- sounds downright amazing. And a season of 32.5, 8.7 and 8.3 -- which is what his numbers extrapolate to at the same pace and the same minutes -- is mind-blowing.

Back to PER for a moment. You can argue about whether James is having the greatest individual season ever -- to seal the deal, presumably it would have to be capped by a title, for starters, and there are a variety of subjective criteria one can add to the discussion that goes far beyond the limits of PER.

What's very clear, however, is that LeBron's campaign belongs on the short list. Few players in history have had a season approaching this one, and as of today only one player has exceeded it.

And James still has a shot at breaking the mark. I'm estimating James will play 270 more minutes this season, based on the Playoff Odds' current guess that Cleveland won't clinch home court throughout the playoffs until the final day of the season. If so, James would need a PER of roughly 33.0 for the remainder of the season to surpass Jordan during the Cavs' final dozen games -- a feat that is difficult but hardly impossible.

So while it may not have the panache of a hitter's chasing .400 or an NFL player's setting a new rushing record, the chase is on.

The conventional wisdom is that James is having a great season, but the reality is much deeper -- he's having what is arguably the greatest individual season in history, and it's time we gave him his due for it.


[pic - click to view]

 http://sports.espn.go.com .. PERDiem-090324

145 comments for ""LeBron James is having a historical season, and it's time we all took notice""

 9 years ago '07        #2
KeepinItTrill 30 heat pts30
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By John Hollinger


I stopped reading at that
 9 years ago '05        #3
rellish 
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Nice read....jus suck that this will only be a distant memory after the Lakers win the title this year.... Lebron may get MVP tho
 9 years ago '12        #4
DoMieD 5 heat pts
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Lebron >


Funny how all the Lebron haters fell back
 9 years ago '05        #5
BurninLz 31 heat pts31 OP
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 KeepinItTrill said:
By John Hollinger


I stopped reading at that
just because Lebrons always the most Efficient player in Hollingers player ranking system? Which is complete unbiased statistical information, not opinion by a columnist?




:badtaste10:


Last edited by BurninLz; 03-24-2009 at 12:39 PM..
 9 years ago '07        #6
KeepinItTrill 30 heat pts30
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 BurninLz said:


just because Lebrons always the most Efficient player in Hollingers player ranking system?




:badtaste1
0:
naw I dont care bout that

Why do you muhf**kas think every Laker fan hates LeBron?

I've never liked Hollinger
 9 years ago '04        #7
mt fuji 17 heat pts17
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what a article....but wade is having just as good a statistical season as lebron,if not better...
 03-24-2009, 12:44 PM         #8
DaytonSmear 
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 mt fuji said:
what a article....but wade is having just as good a statistical season as lebron,if not better...
No mention of Wade? All about Lebron?...


He is one "PER" point behind him and the season aint over...
 9 years ago '06        #9
Bedlam 
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Dude is complaining that no one is noticing that Lebron is approaching Jordan in Hollinger's own made up efficiency statistic? I don't think anyone really gives a s**t about his formula for measuring efficiency...
 9 years ago '06        #10
modalee 5 heat pts
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 BurninLz said:


just because Lebrons always the most Efficient player in Hollingers player ranking system? Which is complete unbiased statistical information, not opinion by a columnist?




:badtaste10:
Honestly I can take almost any columnist writing a piece on why Lebron is great and is the MVP but John Hollinger and Bill Simmons are two of the most biased dumbasses in sports writing history. As soon as i see Hollinger i immediately stopped reading, this is the same guy that claims CP3 is better than Magic Johnson
 9 years ago '07        #11
keithbm1111 97 heat pts97
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Hollinger sucks
 03-24-2009, 12:52 PM         #12
Andre3000 
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Same Hollinger rating that states Wade had the greatest Finals performance ever.
 9 years ago '07        #13
Bkjj11 3546 heat pts3546
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Lmao n*ggas gonna make up a stat on how lebron breathes.
 9 years ago '06        #14
philly337 20 heat pts20
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oh my god quit comparing to jordan the mother f**ker is 6'9 he should get 8 f**kin rebound a game and he's the 275 or some s**t and just runs people over in the lane for his points..and walks half the time...he doesn't have a shot,he turns the ball over a lot,and defense isn't the greatest..the only thing i can really give him props on is his passing ability...if u wanna compare comapre him to magic johson who was his height and touched the ball as much as lebron....

Magic for his career averaged....20 ppg,11 apg,7 rpg

lebron for his career averages....28 ppg,7 apg,7 rpg

and as far as his year he's averagin 29,8,7

short of point the magic crushed that s**t every year but he scored around 20...hell he pretty much averaged a triple double one year 19 ppg,9.5 apg,9.6 rpg,2.7 spg

my bad for the hate but damn get off the guys d**k..he's 6'9...quit tellin me how he pulls down 7-8 boards game and his head is at the rim when he jumps...that s**t should happen if he has any up and is a decent player
 9 years ago '06        #15
philly337 20 heat pts20
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 Bkjj11 said:
Lmao n*ggas gonna make up a stat on how lebron breathes.
you mean how hollinger altered the stats to make lebrons jump up everybody else stay the same per an 87-88 pace?Haha...he didn't play 40 minutes so don't tell me what he would do in 40
 9 years ago '05        #16
BurninLz 31 heat pts31 OP
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 Rico23 said:
Oh dear.....as much as this is true L'z U KNO DAMN WELL n*ggas aint tryin to hear this on boxden...u basically jus opened up the Ark Of The Covenant in the BXSC
OH... i KNEWW




 9 years ago '05        #17
BurninLz 31 heat pts31 OP
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 philly337 said:
oh my god quit comparing to jordan the mother f**ker is 6'9 he should get 8 f**kin rebound a game and he's the 275 or some s**t and just runs people over in the lane for his points..and walks half the time...he doesn't have a shot,he turns the ball over a lot,and defense isn't the greatest..the only thing i can really give him props on is his passing ability...if u wanna compare comapre him to magic johson who was his height and touched the ball as much as lebron....

Magic for his career averaged....20 ppg,11 apg,7 rpg

lebron for his career averages....28 ppg,7 apg,7 rpg

and as far as his year he's averagin 29,8,7

short of point the magic crushed that s**t every year but he scored around 20...hell he pretty much averaged a triple double one year 19 ppg,9.5 apg,9.6 rpg,2.7 spg

my bad for the hate but damn get off the guys d**k..he's 6'9...quit tellin me how he pulls down 7-8 boards game and his head is at the rim when he jumps...that s**t should happen if he has any up and is a decent player

what does Lebron James being 6'9 have to do with anything? I guarentee you cant find anyone in the NBA 6'9 or taller who can jump higher, run faster, and play basketball better than lebron james
 9 years ago '06        #18
philly337 20 heat pts20
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 BurninLz said:

what does Lebron James being 6'9 have to do with anything? I guarentee you cant find anyone in the NBA 6'9 or taller who can jump higher, run faster, and play basketball better than lebron james
nobody is saying that...people wann proclaim him the highest best dunker cause his head gets at the rim...he's 6'9...everybody makes a big deal that he gets 7 rebounds a game...he's 6'9 lol...he scores and passes good i'll give him that but i get tired of people acting like he is goin to be the best ever.He can't even claim best in the league?Once he gets that then you compare him to greats like magic and bird and chamberlin...once he gets past them then u compare him to the greatest

u serriously goin to sit here and tell me he has a better all around game then kobe?And as far is this year you seriously goin to sit here and tell me he deserves the mvp over wade who is out scoring him,has more a.ssist and only lacks to him in rebounds because lebron once again is 6'9..and surpassing him in all these stats with a team that isn't half of what lebron is working with

just get tired of kobe and leborn being praised as better then a lot of greats they are not...how you goin to be better then some of the greats in the past and can't even claim the best in the nba?Tim duncan even has an argument as the best

but anyway lebron will get it?Why?not because he deserves it but because every year it goes to a guy it shouldn't because it's the popular thing to do...laast year paul should have got it and this year wade should get it but instead it goes to kobe and lebron
 03-24-2009, 01:19 PM         #19
NYGallday 
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nikkas love to hate on lebron...yall forget the nugga only 24..and has done so much
 9 years ago '05        #20
BurninLz 31 heat pts31 OP
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 philly337 said:
nobody is saying that...people wann proclaim him the highest best dunker cause his head gets at the rim...he's 6'9...everybody makes a big deal that he gets 7 rebounds a game...he's 6'9 lol...he scores and passes good i'll give him that but i get tired of people acting like he is goin to be the best ever.He can't even claim best in the league?Once he gets that then you compare him to greats like magic and bird and chamberlin...once he gets past them then u compare him to the greatest

u serriously goin to sit here and tell me he has a better all around game then kobe?And as far is this year you seriously goin to sit here and tell me he deserves the mvp over wade who is out scoring him,has more a.ssist and only lacks to him in rebounds because lebron once again is 6'9..and surpassing him in all these stats with a team that isn't half of what lebron is working with

just get tired of kobe and leborn being praised as better then a lot of greats they are not...how you goin to be better then some of the greats in the past and can't even claim the best in the nba?Tim duncan even has an argument as the best

but anyway lebron will get it?Why?not because he deserves it but because every year it goes to a guy it shouldn't because it's the popular thing to do...laast year paul should have got it and this year wade should get it but instead it goes to kobe and lebron
wades team has 30 somthing wins and lebrons has 50 something about to lock up the best record in the East, possibly the NBA.

Hes averaging 30-9-9 over his last like 12 games.

and apparently you didnt read the article

MVP=Lebron
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