Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is a stats guru. He says he has checked the numbers and there’s no question: LeBron James is the best player in the history of the NBA “by a bit of a big margin.”
Talking Wednesday in an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, Morey said, “You look at his ability to generate wins and championship probability over time, and you basically break that down. You don’t need all the numbers. You can watch as well and see that.
“But if you basically isolate that and also look at the career he’s had, frankly I think at this point it’s become a bit of a big margin, actually, where he’s come out ahead. I know that’s a little controversial.”
LeBron James told Sports Illustrated in 2016 that his motivation was “this ghost I’m chasing” who played in Chicago. Ethan Miller/Getty
Morey has spent 12 seasons with the Rockets, 11 as head of basketball operations. With a background in computer science with an emphasis on statistics, he has built a Rockets team that had the best regular-season record in the NBA in 2017-18.
Talking about the Los Angeles Lakers’ outlook next season with the addition of James, Morey said, “I would expect, I hope, that we’re ahead of them and I would expect Golden State to be ahead of them, but I would never count out a LeBron James team. He is the greatest ever in my mind.”
As the debate over Michael Jordan versus James as the greatest of all time continues unabated, ESPN looked at the numbers in May and found that James was closing fast on Jordan. The factors considered were championships added, regular-season versus playoffs stats and quality of play.
James has three titles to Jordan’s six, and four MVP titles to Jordan’s five. At 33, James continues to play at near-peak levels deep into his career. ESPN’s conclusion was that to the extent it’s close now, James’ eventual superiority is all but inevitable.