Numbers support LeBron at No. 1
September, 28, 2012
By Ernest Tolden
DON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImagesThere’s no shortage of numbers supporting LeBron James as the top player in the NBA.
James joined Michael Jordan (1992) as the only player to win MVP, an NBA title, Finals MVP and Olympic Gold in the same year.
But those accolades only begin to tell the story.
Here’s a look at some statistical angles that further support James as the top basketball player on the planet.
James’ 27.6 career scoring average is the highest among active players, and third-highest all-time behind only Michael Jordan (30.12) and Wilt Chamberlain (30.07).
James has averaged at least 25 points in each of the last eight seasons, tied with Kobe Bryant for the longest active streak in the NBA. Only Bryant has more such seasons overall among active players with 11.
Since the start of 2007-08, James has recorded an NBA-high 160 30-point games, 21 more than the player with the next-highest total.
Last season, James did most of his damage on the break averaging an NBA-high 5.9 fast break points per game. He’s led the league in fast break points in each of his two seasons with the Miami Heat.
James’ impact on the game is shown in his Player Efficiency Rating. PER, created by ESPN.com’s John Hollinger, is the overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. The league average PER is 15.0 every season.
James has surpassed 30 three times in his career, including an NBA-high 30.8 PER last season. Only Michael Jordan has had more seasons with a PER over 30 in NBA history.
But it’s his ability to score at a high rate efficiently that separates him from his competition. James is the only player in the NBA to average at least 25 points and shoot over 50 percent from the field over the span of the last five seasons.
All Around Impact
James has averaged at least 27.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in six of his nine seasons in the league, tied for the most in NBA history with Oscar Robertson.
Last season, the Heat outscored their opponents by 474 points when James was on the court. That was the highest plus-minus by any player in the NBA. James has led the NBA in plus-minus in each of the last four seasons.
Looking ahead, James enters this season seeking his fourth league MVP, which would put him on a short list that includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (5) and Wilt Chamberlain (4).