LeBron James: The New Jordan?

David WangAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2008

LeBron James is arguably the best player in the NBA right now.

But some even say, he might be the best player the NBA has ever seen.

Granted that Michael Jordan is conceived as the legend of basketball, but he himself is not God.

He is not perfect.

And here to take his throne now, is the Chosen One—LeBron James.

Coming out of high school, James had been on magazine covers before he turned into an adult, and had a Nike shoe contract with him going into the 2003 draft night in New York.

At first, people had doubts on this kid.

Comments stating that he could never survive the intensity of NBA without college basketball all turned into the trash can—quite literally. 

On his opening game, he showed the world why he is the Chosen One.  He plays basketball the way he likes it, and no one will stop him.

Wearing the same number as Jordan, James has done almost everything Jordan has done in his entire career, except for a few notable mentions.  However, you have to remember James is not even into his prime yet!

So who is better?  LeBron James or Michael Jordan?

There is only one way to find out—after James retires.

But no fans can wait that long.

For now, Jordan has the edge, but James will take it away just as easily.

With a 6'8", 250-pound body frame, and a vertical leap that is almost 40 inches, James has an offensive game  comparable to that of Kobe, Jordan, and Grant Hill (in his prime). 

The one flaw James has in his offensive game is his free-throw shooting and at times, his jump shot.  His imperfect shooting style causes him to miss free-throws, but it is consistent at around 70 percent in every season.

His jump shot might be worse than that of  Kobe or Jordan, but when he is on fire, he can shoot it over just about anybody (as seen in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals last year). 

People remember Jordan for knocking down impossible game-winning shots and 60-point games, but rarely do people remember that there are nights when Jordan shot less than 40 percent, and scored under 20 points.

What separates James from Kobe and Jordan, is his post-up game. Because of his size, he can back down his defender as good as a big-man, and finish in a variety of ways.

This is what Kobe and Jordan lack—a post game.  Sure they can both post up and shoot fadeaways or drive to the hoops, but they lack the body size. 

LeBron is two inches taller than both Kobe and Jordan, and this gives him the advantage.

Another plus factor for LeBron is his ability to finish.  Due to his tremendous strength and vertical leap, he can dunk on people, something Jordan rarely accomplished as he got older. 

Given that Jordan had the ability to finish as well, he dod it in a more athletic way, twisting his body, and hanging in midair.  And this year in the NBA, James has started to show similar moves as well: draw the foul, hang in the air, and then finish the play.

For both James and Jordan, the most outstanding aspect would be their defensive aggressiveness.  Jordan was selected Defensive Player of the Year many times over, and has made key stops at critical times. 

But James can do it with both steals and blocks.  Again, this is probably because of James' size, but blocks do not come from height, but talent. 

Josh Smith is 6'9", and he can block shots better than any centers in the league.  Similarly with James, he will hustle more than anybody to intercept the pass or block the shot—and as many fans have seen, most of his blocks came during the opponent's transitions.

Nevertheless, there is still one weakness in Jordan's game that James have developed over the years—three pointers.  Sure enough, Michael Jordan made the critical three pointers, but he never conceived himself as a three-point shooter. 

LeBron James, on the other and, has developed his three to the point that it becomes a very reliable and dependent shot for him, and due to his size, he has the ability to shoot over defenders as well.

This is one area Jordan never managed to achieve well in.

Then there are the achievements—championships, scoring champions, and slam-dunk contests. These only reflect their abilities, and thus far, LeBron James has shown promise to achieve the same, or more, than Michael Jordan.

He has led the Cavaliers to the Finals in his third year in the league; he has been in a tight race with Kobe and Allen Iverson for scoring championships; he was named youngest MVP for All-Star Game; he is competing with Jason Kidd for triple-doubles.

Is that enough for a fourth-year player out of high school? 

Apparently not, because he is still improving.

Michael Jordan might be the legend of basketball, but LeBron James is the heir apparent.

He already is one of the best players ever in the NBA, and remember: 

He's still only 23 years old.


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