LeBron James: Why All the Fuss If He's No Good as a Player?

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
LeBron James: Why All the Fuss If He's No Good as a Player?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ever since Miami lost to Dallas in the finals and LeBron performed poorly, there has been plenty of anti-LeBron commentary on Bleacher Report, of which I see two categories.

One category contains expressions of dislike of LeBron as a person—he is arrogant, a fool, etc. And the second category holds dismissals of LeBron as a basketball player—he can’t shoot, has no post game, chokes in big moments, and so on.  This article is NOT about category No. 1.  So you don’t like the guy—whatever.  But, as far as category No. 2 goes, if you read Bleacher Report, you might start to wonder why there was ever so much fuss about this guy AS A PLAYER. 

Why did every team in the NBA court him, and why did millions hang on his decision, if he’s so worthless as a basketball player?

I though it might be a good time for a little reminder.  First, I’ll keep it simple.  LeBron was 26 years old last season.  Suppose we look at NBA history and compare LeBron’s output to this point with other players through their 26th year?  Let’s just do this: add points plus rebounds plus assists plus steals plus blocks, for all players in NBA history up to the age of 26.  What do we get?  I’ll give you the top 18, in reverse order.

Rk

Player

Pts+plays

18

Charles Barkley

    19,148

17

Magic Johnson

    19,154

16

Stephon Marbury

    19,362

15

Chris Bosh

    19,494

14

Oscar Robertson

    19,689

13

Moses Malone

    19,967

12

Dwight Howard

    20,213

11

Isiah Thomas

    20,426

10

Shaquille O'Neal

    20,572

9

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    20,650

8

Michael Jordan

    20,929

7

Carmelo Anthony

    21,172

6

Kobe Bryant

    21,344

5

Bob McAdoo

    21,385

4

Tracy McGrady

    21,656

3

Wilt Chamberlain

    22,226

2

Kevin Garnett

    22,782

1

LeBron James

    27,788

 

OK, but LeBron, you’ll say, has always been able to put up numbers.  He’s not a winner, right?

I did a little experiment on that too.  I’ll assume you know the “win shares” concept[1].  I looked at every player in NBA history, up to the age of 26, for win shares during regular seasons and playoffs.  But as everyone says at B/R, the playoffs should count much more than the regular season, so I multiplied post-season win shares by 3.75[2] to get “success shares,” to which I added bonuses for “championship shares,”[3] multiplying championship shares times 15.  I’m not saying this formula is the be-all and end-all, but it’s a way of trying to gauge how much success a player has achieved.  OK, so what do we get for players through their 26th year?

This time I’ll give you the top 21 in “success shares,” again in reverse order.

Rk

Player

Suc.Sh.

21

Kevin Garnett

79.11

20

Kevin Johnson

80.30

19

Charles Barkley

80.49

18

Dave Cowens

82.73

17

Walt Frazier

83.00

16

Dolph Schayes

83.68

15

Dirk Nowitzki

84.59

14

James Worthy

88.12

13

Scottie Pippen

88.67

12

Michael Jordan

90.35

11

Isiah Thomas

91.36

10

Bill Russell

94.39

9

George Mikan

95.61

8

Dwight Howard

98.06

7

Shaquille O'Neal

98.51

6

Tony Parker

115.77

5

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

125.91

4

Tim Duncan

131.16

3

Kobe Bryant

135.46

2

Magic Johnson

152.97

1

LeBron James

165.96

 

Does all this mean that LeBron is destined to be the greatest player in the history of the game?  No.  Like I said, I offer this as just a little reminder as to whether there is a basis for all the fuss, keeping strictly to LeBron as a basketball player.  Did LeBron under-perform in the 2011 finals?  Yes.  Do you hate him?  I don’t care.  Is there a basis in LeBron’s achievement as a basketball player that warrants so much attention being payed to him?  Yes.


[1] Basically, a player’s win shares are the percentage of a team’s production that the player accounts for, multiplied by the team’s wins.  So the leader in win shares is not necessarily the winningest player, he might just be a guy who got lucky enough to be on a lot of good teams (Robert Horry). The leader in win shares is also not necessarily the guy who does the most for his team, because if his team loses all the time, it doesn’t matter how much he’s “carrying” them.  The leader in win shares is the guy who contributes the most with the greatest results in winning.

[2] 60 regular season wins is championship level play, 16 playoff wins is a championship, and 60 divided by 16 equals 3.75.

[3] The percentage of his team’s postseason production that a player contributed to a championship.

Load More Stories

Follow Miami Heat from B/R on Facebook

Follow Miami Heat from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Miami Heat

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.