In the wake of the James Harden trade, the pendulum has swung decisively in LeBron James’ favor in terms of the GOAT debate with Michael Jordan.
NBA fans are suggesting on Twitter that James will be the undisputed GOAT if the Lakers beat these Nets. They definitely have a valid point. In terms of singular offensive firepower, there are few teams that compare to today’s Nets. We’ve never had 3 all-time great iso players on the same team.
In addition, the Nets are also deep in terms of their wing spots. Although their center rotation is now shaky in Jarrett Allen’s absence, they can remedy that by the trade deadline. There really are very few scenarios right now in which the Nets aren’t de facto favorites in the East.
Michael Jordan never had to face a team with two top 5 players and one top 15-20 player.
LeBron will do that for the second time. pic.twitter.com/HcUTlYOvbB
— PM-14 👑💯 (@Le_GOAT23James) January 13, 2021
Did Michael Jordan face worse competition than LeBron James?
This FiveThirtyEight article suggests that through the course of their numerous playoff campaigns, Jordan’s average competition was better than LeBron’s. Although this came out in May 2020, the comparisons are still valid since James didn’t face a great team last year.
Over the course of Jordan’s 13 playoffs, his team averaged 58.38 regular season wins. His opponents, meanwhile, averaged 53.54 wins. Through 24 playoff series in which Jordan’s Bulls were the higher seed, they never lost a series. Essentially, Jordan never blew homecourt advantage in his career.
LeBron, on the other hand, has played on inferior teams than Jordan on an average. His teams averaged 55.44 wins, while his opponents averaged 51.77. Thus, the difference in quality between James’s teams and his opponents is smaller than that in Jordan’s case.
LeBron has also faced more top-end competition than James. He’s faced 4 straight 60-win teams in Finals, including the 73-win Warriors. He’s also faced the KD Warriors twice in Finals – a team right up there with the best in basketball history.
If he does beat the Nets in the Finals, he will definitely have the distinction of beating a true Big 3. MJ never did this.