Hall of Fame
Yeah we certainly do. Maybe you could list some of the things that you think LBJ can do but MJ can't, because I truly am mystified that anyone would argue LBJ is a better defender than MJ. Preferably something more specific than "anchoring" a defense.If you think Kobe is in any way shape or form a better overall defender than peak LeBron then I think we're done here. We have fundamentally different ideas of what defense is in that case.
It actually does, because of the dramatic increase in 3-pt shot attempts which is why we're having this convo in the first place. One thing that has become clearer in recent years is that today's offense is becoming all layups/dunks/low-post shots, 3s or nothing. Perimeter shots (which of course were MJ/Kobe's bread and butter) are increasingly seen as inefficient, and regardless of its merits this small-ball mindset is why the recent ORtgs have become comparable to those from MJ's era where there were more world-class bigs and players overall were shooting closer to the rim. That's valid whether you consider points per game or not (I thought you did).The point of oRTG is that it's per 100 possession, it takes out pace, so that doesn't matter.
That's patently untrue, for this one reason: when they eliminated hand-checking for the 2004-05 season the ORtg went up by a whopping 3.2, from 102.9 to 106.1. Going all the way back to MJ's debut ('84-85) the only seasons where you'll see a comparable year-to-year change are 1988-89 and 2011-12 when the ratings dipped from 105.0 to 102.2 and from 107.3 to 104.6 respectively, which is understandable as that's when the players had to skip 32/16 games due to the lockout and had less time to get into shape.MJ's era, more points were scored per possession than in most of LeBron's prime despite fewer threes being shot and tons of mid range(inherently less efficient). Heavily suggests that it was easier for stars to get buckets because the amount of pressure a team can put on them is limited, because they will be the source of your most efficient offense when you don't have knockdown 3 point shooters, and easier to finish inside the paint for both bigs and slashers because there's less defensive pressure in terms of help defense. Whatever the case, it suggests that handchecking was not playing any significant part in slowing down offense compared to the impact the zone had.
Whenever you make such comprehensive rule changes there will necessarily be some adjusting time. And you must understand, zones are not used all that often to begin with as offenses usually can get into a groove after 3-4 zone sequences, and when they are it's mainly to slow down the game which of course is conducive to small ball. Also since defenders are no longer responsible for boxing out specific opponents you tend to see more offensive rebounds, and get the ball to a good passer in the FT area and you're getting wide-open shots - both of which again have led to today's (over-)reliance on 3s. After all why bother posting up when you know they'll be looking to clog up the lane and you can get the ball to a couple of good outside shooters (provided that you have 'em on the roster)?The early 00's still had plenty of high caliber bigs and ISO players, but offense and efficiency was at historic lows because teams were improving their defensive schemes, playing more physically, and the zone was allowed starting 2001. The defense the last couple years has been worse, no doubt about that, but the early 10's defense where everyone started adopting the Thibs Celtics ICE, it was probably harder for stars to get points in isolation than MJ's era. Then, the last few years, teams have countered by putting shooters on the weak side to prevent them from overloading the strong side and spacing the floor more, and offense has gone back up to late 80's/early 90's levels, which was when MJ's peak was.
Throw in the lack of hand-checking and you can see why I think MJ would do quite well in this era. In fact I remember longtime coach and writer Charley Rosen being asked once whether zones would limit Mike's scoring and he answered firmly in the negative and went on to explain how he'd be averaging 40 pts today instead. I think he was a bit over the top, but probably not too far off.
But they wouldn't try to hand-check LBJ while he's already on his power drive. The point is to stop him from gaining his momentum in the first place, and then to force him left as he tends to go for jumpers on that side and give him as little room as possible by playing tight on his left hand. Again a difficult tactic as it'd often mean playing both sides of the court, but still doable when employed carefully.LBJ of today's numbers at the rim would likely fall because he is getting by with a lot of bully ball (but again he's much stronger than most wings so hand checking isn't shutting him down), but peak LBJ who was a menace attacking the rim with both speed and power would shred those defenses just as he did the ones of his time, probably more so because you're not stopping him 1 on 1 no matter how much you handcheck. And good luck handchecking a 265 pound dude moving at that speed.
And look, you obviously love the guy but you gotta quit making these tiresome excuses for LBJ with his previous teams. As @Noveson and countless others have pointed out few if any ATGs have faced easier paths to the finals than LeBron, and while I'll give you that MJ/Kobe had Phil just how many times has LBJ tried to overrule his own coach or even the management? (I know, I know, he had good reasons to, but you can see we're already going in circles.) Not to mention that luck is part of sports and it's debatable whether it even makes sense to talk of such things.