For many, it is difficult to accept how great LeBron James is because his statistics just don’t compare to some of history’s greatest players. However, James’ deflated numbers can easily be explained by just looking at how slow the NBA has become.
Below is a look at how many shots teams averaged per game throughout the history of the NBA. For the last 20 years, the average has remained steady at approximately 81 shots per game. However, things were much different years ago.
For example, in 1961-62, the year Oscar Robertson famously averaged a triple-double, teams averaged 107.7 shots per game, the third-most in NBA history, and 31.5% more than this year (81.9 FGA/gm). If you increased James’ numbers by the same rate, he would be averaging 35.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game this year (Robertson averaged 30.8, 12.5, and 11.4 respectively).
This is not to diminish what Robertson accomplished. But his numbers do need to be taken in the context of a league that did not emphasise defence in the same manner as today’s game. And when we do that we can see just how great LeBron is performing…
Data via Basketball-Reference.com
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