Michael Jordan vs LeBron James after 10 Years

LeBron James has just won his second straight NBA Championship and his second straight Finals MVP, and as always, the comparisons to Michael Jordan are at an all time high so let’s take a look at how these two player’s careers stack up against each other 10 years in respectively.

First of all why did I choose to compare the two 10 years in? Why not both at age 28 (the age that LeBron is now).  The answer is that it would be unfair.  LeBron entered the league at aged 18 and therefore by age 28 he would have played 10 seasons in the NBA.  Jordan on the other hand entered the league at age 21 and therefore at age 28 he would have only played 7 years in the league, in fact at age 28 Jordan has played almost 200 games less than LeBron (589 compared to 765 for James).

MVPs:

MJ: 3 – finished 2nd twice and 3rd twice

LBJ: 4 – finished 2nd once and 3rd once

Championships:

MJ: 3 in 3 tries

LBJ: 2 in 4 tries

Finals MVPs:

MJ: 3 – MJ became the first person in NBA history to win three consecutive finals MVP awards, a feat later repeated by himself and achieved by Shaquille O’Neal

LBJ: 2

Scoring Titles:

MJ: 7

LBJ: 1

Steals Titles:

MJ: 3

LBJ: 0

Rookie of the Year:

MJ: 1

LBJ: 1

Defensive player of the year:

MJ: 1 – The year MJ won DPOY he also led the NBA in steals per game, points per game and won MVP

LBJ: 0

Scoring Title and MVP in the same season:

MJ: 3

LBJ: 0

MVP and Finals MVP in the same season:

MJ: 2

LBJ: 2

Scoring Title and Steals Title in the same season:

MJ: 3

LBJ: 0

Scoring Title, MVP and Finals MVP in the same season:

MJ: 2

LBJ: 0

Scoring Title and Finals MVP in the same season:

MJ: 3

LBJ: 0

Games Played

MJ: 684 (MJ missed the majority of his second season with a broken foot and retired in 1993 and came back for the last 17 games of the 1994-1995 season)

LBJ: 765

Minutes Played:

MJ: 26,510

LBJ: 30,374

Regular season averages:

Points per game:

MJ: 32.2

LBJ: 27.6

Assists per game:

MJ: 5.9

LBJ: 6.9

Rebounds per game:

MJ: 6.3

LBJ: 7.3

Steals per game:

MJ: 2.7

LBJ: 1.7

Blocks per game:

MJ: 1.0

LBJ: 0.8

FG%

MJ: 51.4%

LBJ: 49.0%

3PT%

MJ: 30.7%

LBJ: 33.7%

FT%

MJ: 84.5%

LBJ: 74.7%

NBA Finals Breakdown and Comparison to the Regular Season:

A player’s numbers in an NBA Final should increase / be inflated due to the fact that only a maximum of 7 games can be played compared to a maximum of 82 games in the regular season and due to the fact that a player should raise their level of play when they get to the NBA Finals (due to the stakes being higher)

LeBron James:

2007

NBA Final: – 22ppg, 7.0rpg, 6.8apg, 1.0spg, 0.5bpg, 35.6% FG, 20.0% 3PT, 69.0% FT

Regular Season: 27.3ppg, 6.7rpg, 6.0apg, 1.6spg, 0.7bpg, 47.6% FG, 31.9% 3PT, 69.8% FT

Conclusion: LeBron’s play dropped when it pertained to: scoring (FG%, 3PT% and FT%), steals and blocks, however it increased when it came to rebounding and passing.

2011

NBA Final: 17.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 6.8apg, 1.7spg, 0.5bpg, 47.8% FG, 32.1% 3PT, 60.0% FT

Regular Season: 26.7ppg, 7.5rpg, 7.0apg, 1.6spg, 0.6spg, 51.0% FG, 33.0% 3PT, 75.9% FT

Conclusion: LeBron’s play dropped when it pertained to: scoring (dramatically), FG%, FT% and 3PT%, additionally, despite his passive nature in this series, his assists declined as well as his rebounds, and blocks.  His steals increased.  Defensively LeBron was poor this series as those who have watched the series will know that Jason Terry (who actually out-scored LBJ – 18.0ppg on 49.4%FG and 39.3% 3PT) was often able to score and get to the basket easily.

2012

NBA Final: 28.6ppg, 10.2rpg, 7.4apg, 1.6spg, 0.4bpg, 47.2% FG, 18.8% 3PT, 82.6% FT

Regular Season: 27.1, 7.9rpg, 6.2apg, 1.9spg, 0.8bpg, 53.1% FG, 36.2% 3PT, 77.1% FT

Conclusion: LeBron’s points per game increased however his FG% fell by approximately 6%, his 3PT% also decreased by almost 20% however his FT shooting increased.  His rebounding and passing increased however his steals per game and blocks per game decreased.  Defensively LeBron was sound in this series although some might bring up that Durant (the opposing SF) shot 55% and averaged 30ppg for the finals.

2013

NBA Final: 25.3ppg, 10.9rpg, 7.0apg, 2.3spg, 0.9bpg, 44.7% FG, 35.3% 3PT, 79.5% FT

Regular Season: 26.8ppg, 8.0rpg, 7.3apg, 1.7spg, 0.9bpg, 56.5% FG, 40.6% 3PT, 75.3% FT

Conclusion: LeBron’s scoring dropped in points per game, FG% and 3PT%. His steals and rebounding increased as well as FT shooting.  However, his passing decreased slightly.  In my opinion this was by far his best finals series defensively as he showed great versatility in being able to guard Tony Parker  in critical moments of various games, most noticeably in towards the end of game 6 and 7.  Those that have watched the series will know that scoring wise, LeBron under-performed significantly for the first 3 games (failing to score over 20 points in either of them), however, he redeemed himself in the remaining 4 games.

LeBron’s Finals averages:

(4 NBA Finals – 22 games): 23.2ppg, 43.8 FG%, 9.0rpg, 7.0apg, 1.72spg, 0.59bpg, 26.5 3PT %, 72.7% FT

Overall conclusion: When it comes to the NBA Finals LeBron’s scoring and overall efficiency has decreased.  He has raised his level of play when it pertains to rebounding and has continued to be an effective passer.  Overall defensively he has shown some inconsistency but has excelled in the later NBA Finals series’.

Michael Jordan:

1991

NBA Final: 31.2ppg, 6.6rpg, 11.4apg, 2.8spg, 1.4bpg, 55% FG, 50% 3PT, 84.8% FT

Regular Season: 31.5ppg (led the league), 6.0rpg, 5.5apg, 2.7spg, 1.0bpg, 53.9% FG, 31.2% 3PT, 85.1% FT

Conclusion: In the finals Jordan raised his level of play when it pertained to: scoring, shooting (FG%, FT and 3PT) (his points per game decreased slightly), rebounding, passing (which doubled!), stealing, blocking and also defensively.  Pippen did guard Magic for extended periods due to Jordan getting into foul trouble (games 1 and 2 of the series), however overall Jordan’s energy and effort on defence increased.

1992

NBA final: 35.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 6.5apg, 1.7spg, 0.3bpg, 52.6% FG, 42.9 3PT%, 89.1% FT

Regular Season: 30.1ppg (led the league), 6.4rpg, 6.1apg, 2.3spg, 0.9bpg, 51.9% FG, .270 3PT%, 83.2% FT

Conclusion: In the finals Jordan raised his level of play when it pertained to: scoring, shooting (FG%, FT and 3PT – he set an NBA record 6 made three pointers in one half in game 1 of this series), passing and blocking. His steals and rebounding declined however those that have watched this series will know that this is probably Jordan’s best series defensively.  He took Clyde Drexler (who finished second in MVP voting) out of his game offensively, so much so that Drexler’s shooting %’s fell from 47% FG and 33.7% 3PT in the regular season to 40.7% FG and 15.0% 3PT in the Finals.

1993

NBA final: 41.0ppg (NBA Finals record – which still stands today), 8.5rpg, 6.3apg, 1.7spg, 0.7bpg, 50.8% FG, 40.0% 3PT, 69.4% FT

Regular season: 32.6ppg (led the league), 6.7rpg, 5.5apg, 2.8spg (led the league), 0.7bpg, 49.5% FG, 35.2% 3PT, 83.7% FT

Conclusion: In the finals Jordan raised his level of play when it pertained to: scoring (dramatically), FG%, 3PT% rebounding and passing.  His level of play dropped when it came to steals and FT% and stayed the same when it came to blocks.

Overall Finals averages:

(3 NBA Finals – 17 games): 36.0ppg, 53.06 FG%, 7.2rpg, 8.06apg, 2.06spg, 0.8bpg, 44.3 3PT %, 81.1 FT%

Overall conclusion: When it came to the NBA Finals Jordan raised his overall level of play both offensively and defensively.  While MJ was a prolific scorer, he showed the ability to adapt or adjust his game to different situations and increase his passing and/or rebounding numbers while still scoring at an increased rate.

Conclusion:

Michael Jordan – (3 NBA Finals – 17 games): 36.0ppg, 53.06 FG%, 7.2rpg, 8.06apg, 2.06spg, 0.8bpg, 44.3 3PT %, 81.1 FT%

LeBron James – (4 NBA Finals – 22 games): 23.2ppg, 43.8 FG%, 9.0rpg, 7.0apg, 1.72spg, 0.59bpg, 26.5 3PT %, 72.7% FT

In the NBA Finals after their first 10 years Jordan has higher: scoring, FG%, 3PT%, FT% and assist averages, as well as having played better, more consistent defence.  LeBron has the advantage when it pertains to rebounding.

Jordan faced the: 5th, 3rd and 9th best defence in the NBA, on average that’s the 5.6th best defence in the league.

LeBron faced the: 2nd, 8th, 11th and 3rd best defence in the NBA, on average that’s the 6th best defence in the league.

Perimeter defenders and teams in Jordan’s era were allowed to defend much more physically due to being able to hand-check, the absence of the 3 second rule etc.

Additionally MJ matched up against Magic and Drexler in 91 and 92 respectively, both of whom finished second in MVP voting that year (due to MJ winning MVP).  In 93 MJ faced (but didn’t match up against) Charles Barkley, who won MVP that year (MJ finished third behind Hakeem).

In 2007 Duncan finished 4th in MVP voting and Parker finished 15th, in 2011 Dirk finished 6th in MVP voting, in 2012 Durant finished 2nd (LeBron won MVP and matched up against Durant) and in 2013 Parker finished 6th in MVP voting.

Overall, after 10 years in the NBA, Jordan had dominated the league at a higher level than LeBron from both an offensive and defensive stand point and had raised his level of play in all areas on a more consistent basis in the NBA final better than LeBron had.

You can follow me on twitter: @SwishNBA

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24 thoughts on “Michael Jordan vs LeBron James after 10 Years

      1. I know Jordan is great but people need to stop acting like he is on top of an untouchable pedestal that no one else can reach, great article and analysis though

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    1. Thanks for reading, I disagree for the reasons stated in the blog post, additionally MJ’s firs two years should then be irrelevant because they weren’t making any noise in the playoffs.

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  1. gr8 article from your standpoint!!!! I would like for you to look at it from starting your career at 18 vs 21. if mj had started his career at 18 it would’ve took him 9-10 yrs to win his 1st chip as well. what would mj stats look like compared to brons starting at 18. im just sayn

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  2. Great read, with the way MJ dominated in the Finals it shouldnt even be close when comparing these two. But time will hurt MJ cus by the time Lebron is done he could have 4
    + Chips and people become prisoner of the moment and annoint Lebron the King

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  3. The myth that LeBron is a better passer is a buncha crap!

    What is LeBron better than Jordan in besides rebounding….and even that’s debatable? For anyone who might say LeBron is a better passer doesn’t know sports! LeBron is not a better passer! 1st….They play 2 TOTALLY DIFFERENT positions! Jordan’s position was “SHOOTING GUARD” & his responsibility was to score the basketball, while LBJ’s position is “POINT FORWARD” & his responsibility is to distribute the basketball! There’s a reason why Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, etc has less passing yards than Trent Dilfer! Hellooooooo2 TOTALLY DIFFERENT positions!

    Now everyone pay close attention…

    Jordan played PG once in his career & it was for the last 24 gms of the 89′ season & had 7 straight triple dbls & 10-11 TD’s in that same span! In these 24 gms Jordan averaged an astonishing 30.42 ppg (51% FG), 10.71 apg, 9.2 rpg, 2.45 spg & .91 bpg at PG all while passing to a buncha journeymen role players that wouldn’t even have been in the league if not for Jordan! Jordan clearly showed what he was capable of doing when he played PG, while LeBron isn’t anywheres near the scorer Jordan was despite playing in a no hand checking era! Jordan at PG finished with 12 TD’s in just 24 games & finished the season with 15 TD’s! Note that Magic Johnson holds the record for most TD’s in a season with 18! It doesn’t take a freakin rocket scientist to know that if Jordan would’ve played the whole season at PG, that he would’ve CRUSHED Magic’s 18 TD’s! So this LeBron is a better passer thing is a crock of crap!! So I ask again…….What is LeBron better than Jordan at? SMFH..

    Defense u say?? HAHA!

    Jordan 3 seasons led NBA in steals…LeBron, Kobe & Wade COMBINED = ZERO!!
    Jordan 6 seasons with 200+ steals….LeBron, Kobe & Wade COMBINED = ZERO!!
    Jordan 2 seasons with 100+ blocks…LeBron, Kobe COMBINED = ZERO!! (Wade 1 yr)
    Jordan DPOY……………………………….LeBron, Kobe, Wade COMBINED = ZERO

    Jordan got most of his steals playing the passing lanes like no other ever!

    This whole topic brought up by the irresponsible media is blasphemous & a complete hypocrisy!

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    1. Note that my comment is not directed towards the moderator/OP, but to the uneducated kids that take what the media says as fact when its actually far from it!

      Also note…. that in these 24 games Jordan had 7 straight triple doubles & 10-11 triple doubles in that same span! The 1 game he missed a TD he had 40 pnts, 11 assists & 7 rebounds!

      Jordan at PG CRUSHES LeBron! So the LeBron being a better passer myth must end!

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  4. Thanks for your breakdown man. Although you don’t like us very much, I’m a Lakers fan and I really appreciate your analysis and vast knowledge on the NBA and use your breakdowns on my debates all the time. The only thing I don’t really agree with is your list of top players of all time but it is still a respectable and very debatable list. Keep up the good work and I would like to see further player comparisons and even championship team comparisons (i.e. 2001 LA Lakers vs. 1996 Chicago Bulls vs. 2013 Miami Heat) in the future

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