Sports News

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: The key stats you need to know in the GOAT debate

The ESPN documentary series “The Last Dance” showed a younger generation of NBA fans that Michael Jordan is much more than a guy who sells retro sneakers. For those who witnessed Jordan’s greatness over the course of two three-peats with the Bulls, it reinforced the belief he is the greatest player to ever touch the court.

A current star has complicated that GOAT (greatest of all time) conversation, of course. There is an argument to be made for putting LeBron James over Jordan, and James’ case only grew stronger after he led the Lakers past the Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals.

MORE: The greatest MJ game you definitely don’t remember

Sporting News’ Bill Bender has a helpful guide with the most important talking points if you’re ready to discuss MJ vs. LeBron, but we’re simply here to provide the facts you need to justify your choice. Don’t be the person yelling “six rings” with no backup plan.

Here’s a closer look at where the GOAT debate stands …

(All stats current as of Feb. 21, 2021)

(Getty Images)

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Regular season stats

Jordan is superior in the scoring department, but James grabs rebounds and dishes out assists at a higher rate. While both players are known for tenacious defense on the wing, Jordan finished first in the league in steals three times in his career. James has not yet claimed a steals title.

In terms of longevity, James holds a clear advantage. The gap in total numbers will widen as long as James stays healthy, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down at age 36.

Jordan
Per Game 
LeBron
30.1
Points
27.0
6.2
Rebounds
7.5
5.3
Assists
7.4
2.3
Steals
1.6
0.8
Blocks
0.8
2.7
Turnovers
3.5
38.3
Minutes
38.3
49.7
Field goal %
50.4
32.7
3-point %
34.5
83.5
Free throw %
73.4

 

Jordan
Totals 
LeBron
1,072
Games
1,296
32,292
Points
35,036
6,672
Rebounds
9,659
5,633
Assists
9,592
2,514
Steals
2,046
893
Blocks
973
2,924
Turnovers
4,540
41,011
Minutes
49,628

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Regular season advanced stats

It’s all about which category you choose when it comes to advanced statistics. VORP and Win Shares favor James, but PER and Box Plus/Minus go to Jordan.

Pick a side, nerds! (That’s a term of endearment.)

Jordan
Advanced 
LeBron
27.9
Player Efficiency Rating
27.4
116.1
Value Over Replacement
136.1
9.2
Box Plus/Minus
8.9
214.0
Win Shares
240.7
56.9
True Shooting %
58.6
33.3
Usage %
31.5

(Getty Images)

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Playoff stats

The playoff statistics mirror what Jordan and James produce during the regular season. Despite James’ increased usage and efficiency from beyond the arc over the course of his career, it’s worth noting he shoots about the same percentage as Jordan from 3-point range.

Oh, and the lazy narrative claiming James shrinks in big games — his postseason lines are often more impressive than his regular-season performances. That’s not a smart way to argue against him.

Jordan
Playoffs Per Game 
LeBron
33.4
Points
28.8
6.4
Rebounds
9.0
5.7
Assists
7.2
2.1
Steals
1.7
0.9
Blocks
1.0
3.1
Turnovers
3.7
41.8
Minutes
41.6
48.7
Field goal %
49.6
33.2
3-point %
33.5
82.8
Free throw %
74.1

 

Jordan
Playoff Totals 
LeBron
179
Games
260
5,987
Points
7,491
1,152
Rebounds
2,348
1,022
Assists
1,871
376
Steals
445
158
Blocks
250
546
Turnovers
950
7,474
Minutes
10,811

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Playoff advanced stats

Jordan is the all-time playoff leader in PER and Box Plus/Minus, and he has the highest usage percentage. But James tops everyone in VORP and Win Shares.

So yeah, these guys are pretty good.

Jordan
Advanced 
LeBron
28.6
Player Efficiency Rating
28.4
24.7
Value Over Replacement
33.2
11.1
Box Plus/Minus
10.2
39.8
Win Shares
55.3
56.8
True Shooting %
58.4
35.6
Usage %
32.1

(Getty Images)

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Accolades and awards

And here’s the big one. Jordan fans have championships in their back pockets. MJ went a perfect 6-0 in the NBA Finals and never needed a Game 7 to win those series.

James has gone 4-6 in his 10 NBA Finals appearances, but he also controlled the Eastern Conference with the Cavaliers and Heat for almost an entire decade.

Jordan
Accolades 
LeBron
6
Championships
4
5
MVPs
4
6
Finals MVPs
4
11
All-NBA
16
9
All-Defense
6
14
All-Star
16
10
Scoring titles
1

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker