2012 NBA Finals: LeBron vs. Durant

By: Christopher O’Brien

Who’s better, LeBron James or Michael Jordan? 

This question gets whispered from time to time then quickly shot down by either:

A) Six rings to zero rings

B) LeBron doesn’t have the killer instinct

C) It’s not even a discussion

I’m obviously on the MJ side of the argument, but what piques my curiosity is how can we compare the two? Different eras, yes, but even harder is the difference in size and position. A step further, how do we compare Magic Johnson to MJ to LeBron to Kobe to Bill Russell to Isaiah Thomas et. al.

This got me wondering. Could there be a way to toss all the greats into one system, a system that would allow us to compare point guard to center, defensive specialist to high octane scorer, yesterday’s legend to today’s superstar?

Let me introduce to you the CPR (Complete Player Ranking).

This system adds Minutes Played+Points+Rebounds+Assists+Blocks+Steals together then subtracts FG missed – 3pt FG missed – FT missed – turnovers. The end number is a player’s CPR (the name “MPPRABS-FG-TO” didn’t test well in the marketing department).

If someone has already created this system with a different name, my apologies, let me know and I will buy you a Quiznos sub.

Quick note, I take free throws missed and divide by two then subtract. Why not subtract two for missed FG and 1 for free throw? Eh, decimal points make your math look more scientific.

I like this CPR system because a point guard can make up for less points with their assists and steals. They also won’t have as many missed shots. A big man can tally up big numbers in points, rebounds, blocks, but is usually on the court for less time and misses free throws (cough Shaq cough).

So, with this system comes a lot of data retrieving. Now is not the time to compare LeBron or Durant to Michael Jordan or any of the NBA Finals legends. Whoever wins this title and the Finals MVP I will do a column comparing their CPR numbers to historic figures.

For now it’s LeBron vs. Durant.

Here are LeBron’s season, 2012 Playoffs first three rounds, and 2012 NBA Finals CPR numbers:

Season: 66.7

Playoffs: 71.97

NBA Finals: 71.66

Here are Kevin Durant’s:

Season: 63.05

Playoffs: 68.26

NBA Finals: 64.7

As you can see, both players are going above their regular season numbers. That’s a sign of greatness. Judging by CPR, LeBron James has outplayed Durant in all three sections of data.

What I found interesting when gathering all these numbers was seeing Kevin Durant’s fouls-per-game numbers. For his career, Durant averages 1.9. In these NBA Finals, he’s at a stunning four per game. This is keeping him off the court, thus lowering his minutes, and hurting his overall CPR number.

And I’m sure there’s some punny CPR/choke related joke to close with here, but I guess my conclusion is we have to look beyond points, rebounds, even field goal percentage and see the tiny details like minutes played. LeBron is winning the battle against Durant right now because he is being more aggressive (causing Durant to foul) and is having the sense not to pick up some of the inexperienced reach-in calls Durant is gathering.

Kevin Durant needs to stop getting into foul trouble, not for the sake of his CPR numbers, but for the Thunder’s chances of winning the title.

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