• Aditya Das

Jordan Vs Lebron, a statistical analysis of the GOAT debate

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Aditya Anamey Das

October 29, 2020

With the 2020 NBA finals out of the way, all eyes turn to sports analysts as the GOAT (greatest of all time) debate rages hot once more.

LeBron inches closer to the title of GOAT after winning his 4th championship ring

(Image Source: basketballforever.com)

The 2020 NBA finals ended on a high note with the La Lakers winning their 17th championship in tribute to the late basketball legend, Kobe Bean Bryant. This wasn't a surprise to many as the gold-and-purple clad team had been the championship favourites this entire season.

One of the biggest takeaways from the 2020 NBA finals was that it gave LeBron his 4th championship ring. With four rings under his belt, many would argue that LeBron has now won the GOAT race. While Jordan, with six rings, remains at the top for the rest. The statistics present an even more nuanced paradigm with plenty of arguments to support either of the two players.

In both the regular season and the playoffs, Michael outscores LeBron by 30.1 to 27.1, and 33.4 to 28.8 on average. Whereas LeBron takes the lead with both rebounds and assists, averaging an astounding 7.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game compared to Michael’s 6.2 and 5.3 in the regular season, and 9 rebounds and 7.2 assists in contrast with Jordan’s 6.4 and 5.7 in the playoffs.

When it comes to defending, Jordan takes the cake with three steal titles under his belt. Lebron, although known as an excellent wing defender himself, still has yet to win a steal title.

When it comes to advanced statistics, Jordan edges over LeBron in Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) and box plus/minus however LeBron takes the lead in win shares and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) counts. This trend carries over in the playoffs too where Jordan remains the all-time playoff leader in PER and box plus/minus, whereas LeBron holds the playoff record for the highest VORP and win shares.

Accolades favour Jordan more as he has 6 championships, 5 regular-season MVPs, and 6 Finals MVPs as compared to LeBron's 4 championships, 4 MVPs, and 4 Finals MVPs. While Michael got to the finals 6 times, winning all 6, LeBron made 10 final trips during his 17-year career. LeBron made 8 consecutive final trips from 2011 to 2018 alone, dominating the entire eastern conference in the process.

Regardless of who emerges as the clear GOAT when the dust settles, both these players have time and again outdone expectations and achieved greatness. Both Michael Jordan and LeBron James have achieved basketball immortality as they managed to change the way the game is played through their flair and their skills.

Source: (basketball reference, sporting news)

Edited by Aditya Das and Shreya Gupta

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