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NBA History: 5 Players to Compare LeBron to

Charles BennettSenior Analyst INovember 21, 2016

NBA History: 5 Players to Compare LeBron to

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    LeBron is often considered the greatest player in the NBA right now, and is often compared to other NBA greats, most often Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

    There are two problems I have with those comparisons:  For one, it's always Kobe and Jordan, and very rarely anybody else.  For two, LeBron's a cornerman, and Kobe and Jordan are guards.

    So here are five players, all retired forwards, you should compare the King to instead.

5. Charles Barkley

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    Like LeBron, Charles Barkley is a great forward who never won a title.

    LeBron already has had as many really good seasons as Barkley has, has better PPG and PER numbers, and plus, he has a different mentality.  The Round Mound was a rebounder first, a scorer second, and a passer third.  LeBron is a scorer first, a passer second, and a rebounder third. 

    (The same could be said for a comparison with Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett)

4. Julius Erving

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    People compared Michael Jordan to Julius Erving, Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan, and LeBron to Kobe.  Get rid of the guards in that comparison, and you're left with LeBron and Dr. J.

    LeBron won two NBA MVPs, Dr. J had one in the NBA and three more in the ABA.  The two have the same number of All-NBA selections.  LeBron has slightly better scoring and much better PER numbers. 

    Julius Erving has a title (three, if you count the ones in the ABA).  LeBron doesn't.

3. Bob Pettit

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    Power forward Bob Pettit was the first NBA player to 20,000 points, and nearly fifty years and the three-point line later, still is one of the fastest players to 20,000 points.

    Both LeBron and Pettit have a pair of MVPs.  Pettit has twice as many All-NBA First Team selections, and one more title.

    It'll be interesting to see if LeBron gets to 20,000 faster than Pettit did (or 21,000; if you discount all the threes).  It'll also be interesting to see how far LeBron is from Pettit's career average of 16 boards a game.

2. Karl Malone

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    Some people are already saying LeBron's better than the Mailman.  Both have two MVPs, both have no titles.  

    LeBron has finished in the top five in scoring for seven straight seasons, and has been first-team All-NBA for four straight.  Karl Malone did it for 13 and 11, respectively.  Malone also has better rebounding numbers.

    Essentially, Malone has done almost everything LeBron has done, but for longer. 

1. Elgin Baylor

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    This is a matchup of the two best cornermen in NBA history.  Both went their careers without a title; both averaged around 27 PPG over the course of their careers.

    LeBron has two more MVPs than Baylor; Baylor has five more First Team All-NBA selections than LeBron.  LeBron averages more assists than Baylor; Baylor averages more rebounds than LeBron.

    Elgin Baylor: The guy you should be comparing LeBron to.

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