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Michael Jordan vs LeBron James: The 15-Year Comparison That Could End The GOAT Debate

SENIOR ANALYST

#3 Playmaking

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls - Game Six
Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls - Game Six

This is one of the shadiest areas of comparison, as Michael Jordan played most of his career in a system that emphasized ball movement, consequently reducing his assist numbers for the most part. On the other hand, LeBron has played all 15 seasons of his career as the predominant ball handler for his teams, resulting in the kind of statistics that inspire comparisons to Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

And yet, there are ways to explain how LeBron is a more capable passer than Jordan. His transition play alongside Dwyane Wade during those Miami years are the stuff of legend - the two had a telepathic understanding of the other's game. LeBron is also a wee bit better in the half-court set than Jordan, setting up teammates without necessarily using his stock drive-and-kick move.

Jordan himself excelled in the point guard role whenever he was thrust into it. In fact, he averaged 11.4 assists per game in the 1991 NBA Finals - a number matched only by Magic at that stage. Before the rise of Scottie Pippen as a point forward for the Bulls, Jordan had a season with 8 assists per game (34.7 assist percentage). Pippen's improvements in the triangle system removed the playmaking load off Jordan's shoulders and allowed him to focus more on scoring.

Edge - LeBron James

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Edited by Yash Matange
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