Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bron Bron: Playoff PER

After beating the Thunder and winning the NBA Championship last month, LeBron's critics for the most part acknowledged that he could win a Finals and that he wasn't a choke-artist. The fact that either of these arguments were ever entertained much less blabbered incessantly by the likes of Steven A. Smith reflected a long-standing narrative based on mass-irrationality and the fact that basketball--more so than any other sport--is analyzed almost exclusively on a sample size of last night. The media and fans want to generalize from the most recent events, while ignoring a player's broader body of work. (This, of course, equally affects owners and league executive as evidenced by anytime Elton Brand, Rashard Lewis, or Dan Gadzurik are offered money to play basketball.)

What's so interesting about the argument that LeBron wasn't/ isn't clutch is that it is actually diametrically untrue--statistically speaking he is arguably the greatest playoff player ever, save for Jordan and one or two others. Consider the following table on the 250 greatest single season playoff PERs in NBA history. (PERs is the metric that increases for positive performance and decreases for negative performance while being standardized on a per-minute basis to account for the fact that just because a player plays more than another player it doesn't mean he played better.) The top two PERs on the list, which are 4-5 points higher than the third highest, are Hakeem's 1998 playoffs (38.96) and LeBron's 2009 playoffs (37.39). Because the average PER for those playoffs was 15.00 Hakeem and LeBron's scores mean that each player was equivalent to two-and-a-half average NBA playoff players. So the 1988 Rockets and 2009 Cavs seemingly played an entire playoffs with 6.5 players against 5 on the opposition.

Of the 250 greatest playoff performances based on PER, LeBron has 6. He's only played in 7 playoffs and the one that missed the 250 occurred when he was 21 years old and he still had a 23.2 PER, which was only 0.18 less than the 250th greatest NBA single season playoffs by one player. To offer some context as to how other superstars have fared with respect to numbers of playoffs in the top 250: Wilt (6), Duncan (9), Shaq (10), Tony Parker (1), Reggie Miller (2), Paul Pierce (1), Jordan (11), Oscar Robertson (4), Magic (3), Bird (2), Kobe (6), Garnett (4), Karl Malone (6), Kareem (7), Hakeem (8), Gervin (4), Durant (2), Dwade (5), the Admiral (6), Sir Charles (8), AI (3), and Alonzo Mourning (2). 

1 comment:

  1. umm, can DBSF put together a fantasy football draft for me?