Is LeBron James More Oscar Robertson or Magic Johnson?
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The ultimate versatility of LeBron James as a basketball player is the most compelling aspect of his game. If he chose to lead the NBA in any one specific statistical category this season, it seems he would accomplish just that.
James has finished no lower than fourth overall in scoring during each of the last eight NBA seasons. He led the Miami Heat in rebounding last year with 7.9 per game. He's also finished no worse than 15th overall in assists during every season he's played in the league.
It's that ability to dominate the game in multiple phases that have inspired comparisons to Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, two of the best all-around players in NBA history.
But when analyzing the careers of those two legends, it's clear that LeBron James is more similar to Oscar Robertson than he is to Magic Johnson.
Below are the reasons why.
1. Like LeBron, Oscar Robertson was a dominant and dynamic scorer.
Magic Johnson averaged over 20 points per game in only four seasons. The highest total he posted during his 13-year NBA career was 23.9.
By comparison, Oscar averaged over 28 points per game during eight of his first 10 NBA seasons.
In his last eight seasons, Lebron has averaged at least 26.7 points per game; those totals are more closely aligned with Oscar's production than they are with Magic's.
In addition to putting up similar numbers, LeBron and Oscar could also score in a variety of ways.
As highlighted in the video above, Oscar Robertson could get to the basket whenever he wanted to off the dribble. He could also score from the post-up position, or pull up and hit from anywhere on the court.
This is a skill-set James has demonstrated throughout his career. Below are a collection of plays from LeBron this past season as a reminder.
2. Oscar Robertson could impact the game defensively at the basket and so can LeBron James.
For all his attributes, Magic Johnson never was considered a high flyer. Defensively, he averaged 0.4 blocks per game in his career and never once averaged at least one for the season. Conversely, LeBron has averaged one block or more per game in three seasons.
His blocks are usually spectacular too, as evidenced by the video below.
The NBA didn't keep track of blocked shots when Oscar Robertson played. From the example below, however, we do know that Robertson jumped up over the box on the backboard to block the opposition's shot whenever he wanted to.
Oscar Robertson is the last player in NBA history to average a triple double. Magic was never able to accomplish that and LeBron hasn't yet either.
Magic did top Oscar's career high in assists seven times though, and averaged more than LeBron's career best in assists 10 times.
But while each are three of the best players to ever play the game respectively, LeBron James is more similar to Oscar Robertson.
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