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Friday, May 27, 2011

"Lebron could be the best ever" - Scottie Pippen


I don't have a problem with what he's suggesting. If anyone knows the greatness of Michael Jordan, it's Scottie Pippen. They were team mates for years and won 6 championships together. Scottie knows greatness in his own right as well. He was arguably THE best player in the NBA for one year. Michael Jordan retired before the 1993–94 season, and in his absence Pippen emerged from Jordan's shadow. That year, he earned All-Star Game MVP honors and led the Bulls in scoring, assists, blocks and the entire league in steals, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.9 steals, 1.9 three-pointers, and 0.8 blocks per game, while shooting 49.1% from the field and a career-best 32% from the three-point line. For his efforts, he earned the first of three straight All-NBA First Team nods, and he finished third in the MVP voting. The Bulls finished the season with 55 wins, only two fewer than the year before.

Scottie Pippen is as credible as they come when it comes to discussions of greatness. For a Hall of Famer of his pedigree to say that Lebron James could be the best to ever play the game of basketball is very high praise.
I don't think anyone would debate that Michael Jordan isn't the greatest scorer of all time. The only person to score more points in a season is Wilt Chamberlain and he only scored one way; right near the basket. MJ was so much more than a scorer but IF there were ANY weaknesses in his game, it would be his 3 point range and ball handling ability. He was good at every thing but he was not GREAT at those two specific parts of the game. His large hands, long stride and quick first step made up for the fact that he didn't have the handles of a point guard with a respectable 1.96:1 assist to turnover ratio for his career. The consistency of his 17 foot jumper and ability to pick his spots and get to where he wanted on the court made up for the fact that he wasn't a great 3 point shooter. You still couldn't leave him open because he'd make you pay at .327% for his career. Over Jordan's first 8 years in the league, his main stats were 31.3ppg, 6.0rpg, 5.65apg, 2.66spg, and 1.28bpg.

Lebron James' career numbers are 27.7ppg, 7.1rpg, 7.0apg, 1.7spg, and 0.8bpg and they compare to Jordan's almost identically. Jordan was obviously the more accomplished scorer with higher fg%, ft %, and points per game but everything else is practically identical; except that Jordan had an extra steal per game and James one and a half more assists per game. What James does have that Jordan didn't is bulk! At 6,8" 250lbs, James can absorb contact better and still maintain all the freakish athletic ability that makes him impossible to stop from driving the basket. He possesses the ball handling ability of a speedy point guard and often sprints full speed to the basket with ability to cross over at any moment and dunk on any would-be defender.

Over the past two years, James has significantly improved his fg%. This comes from having more scoring support and having better team mates so that he does not have to take as many bad shots. He has cut the amount of three point shots he attempts from 5.1 last year to 3.5 this year which shows he is a much more disciplined shooter and isn't always forced to shoot the final shot with Dwyane Wade being such a viable option. Lebron James is 26 and just now reaching his PRIME. Barring injury, he will continue to improve subtle aspects of his game and become more efficient and his high basketball IQ will allow him to be valuable as a crafty veteran. I still believe that Michael Jordan is the all-time greatest basketball player but with the Lakers dynasty over and the Spurs and Mavs ever aging, there is no reason why James can't finish his career with more points scored and just as many titles as MJ.


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