All the King’s Records: Projecting LeBron’s All-Time Rank in Advanced Stats

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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Dallas Mavericks on November 30, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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As LeBron James enters his 17th NBA season, Bleacher Report is taking a look at where the four-time MVP sits in the history books in several statistical categories now, after his projected 2019-20 season and following the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.

Already near the top of the all-time leaderboards in numerous categories, James has passed some of the game’s greatest players, and even more legends are about to be bumped down the rankings. Here’s where the series stands:

Part I: James’ total regular-season and postseason minutes

Part II: James’ total blocks, steals and rebounds

Part III: James’ total assists and turnovers

In Part IV of All the King’s Records, we look at where James could finish his career in four different advanced stats, including player efficiency rating, win shares, value over replacement player and box plus/minus.


Player Efficiency Rating: 2019-20 and Future Projections

When predicting James’ stats both for this season and beyond, I’ve based his numbers on 71 games played per season, as that’s the average amount of time he’s spent on the court over the past five years. That allows him to miss 11 contests per year for injury or rest.

His final career projections for all stats came under the assumption he’ll play five more years, meaning a retirement at age 39 following 21 total seasons.

From scoring to passing, rebounding to blocking shots, James has long been one of the most efficient players every time he steps on the court.

His player efficiency rating, or PER, has certainly reflected that.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 31: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during the game against the LA Clippers on January 31, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,

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James’ career PER of 27.59 is second all-time, trailing only Michael Jordan. James led the NBA in PER every season from 2007-08 to 2012-13 and has ranked in the top eight every year outside of his rookie season.

The purpose of PER, as stated by its creator, John Hollinger, is to rate a player’s per-minute productivity. It measures positive accomplishments (field goals, free throws, three-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals) and subtracts negative ones (missed shots, turnovers, personal fouls).

PER typically favors high-usage players that contribute in a number of different statistical categories, like James. Other positive contributions, such as overall defense, shot deterrence and screen setting are not factored in.

Unlike previous stat categories in this series, James can actually move down the list with a lower PER season since this is an average instead of a cumulative stat.

For James to pass Jordan’s career record, the 34-year-old would have to register a PER well above Jordan’s record of 27.91, a mark James has reached just one time in the past five years. James’ PER of 25.6 last year was his lowest since the 2006-07 season.

James’ PER over the past five years (27.1) shows a slight decline from his career mark (27.59), meaning he likely won’t pass Jordan for first overall.

Instead, James’ biggest threat comes from teammate Anthony Davis, who’s third all-time with a PER of 27.42. Given Davis’ recent surge (28.5 PER over the last five seasons) it appears he’ll eventually surpass James at some point during his career, bumping James down to third.

James’ Current Rank: No. 2 all-time

Projected 2019-20 Rank: No. 2 all-time

Projected Career Rank: No. 3 all-time


Win Shares: 2019-20 and Future Projections

James ranks fourth all-time in career win shares, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone.

Nell Redmond/Associated Press

Win shares takes the number of wins a team records and tries to appropriately spread the credit a