LeBron James is one of the greatest postseason performers in NBA history.
Apart from the dark stain on his resume that is the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks — a series where he completely crumbled under the immense pressure — LeBron has delivered every single time he’s headed to the playoffs. And even though each of his postseason appearances may not end in a championship, that doesn’t mean LeBron hasn’t tried to carry his team to victory in every series he’s played in.
James has played in 44 playoff series and counting over the course of his 15-year career, and in most of those series, LeBron has been far and away the best player on the court each and every time.
But on the rare occasion, James has been shown up in the playoffs. It’s so rare, only 10 players — judging by the criteria of game score — have done it over the course of a series, but it’s happened.
From sportingcharts.com, game score is defined as:
What is Game Score statistic?
This statistic was invented by John Hollinger to provide a rough measure of a player’s performance in a given game. The scale upon which the player’s game score is based is the same as points scored. If a player has a game score of 40, that is amazing, while a game score of 10 is average.
Sporting Charts explains Game Score (statistic)
The formula for calculating game score is as follows: (Points x 1.0) + (FGM x 0.4) + (FGA x -0.7) + ((FTA-FTM) x -0.4) + (OREB x 0.7) + (DREB x 0.3) + (STL x 1.0) + (AST x 0.7) + (BLK x 0.7) + (PF x -0.4) + (TO x -1.0).
As can be plainly seen, this statistic takes into account almost everything a player does during a game that can be quantified. These statistics are then weighted and added together to get a game score. This method is similar to Dr. Dean Oliver’s Four Factors, but attempts to add value by considering all the stats, rather than just the four most important ones.
Without further ado, here are the 10 players who have managed to outplay LeBron James in a playoff series:
10. Gilbert Arenas — 2006 First Round (24.7 to 23.6)
9. Tony Parker — 2007 Finals (16.2 to 10.6)
8. Manu Ginobili — 2007 Finals (11.6 to 10.6)
7. Tim Duncan — 2007 Finals (15.3 to 10.6)
6. Kevin Garnett — 2008 Semi-Finals (17.6 to 17.5)
5. Dwyane Wade — 2011 Semi-Finals (23.8 to 20.3)
4. Dwyane Wade — 2011 Finals (22.7 to 13.7)
3. Dirk Nowitzki — 2011 Finals (16.6 to 13.7)
2. Kyrie Irving — 2016 First Round (19.7 to 18.3)
1. Kevin Durant — 2017 Finals (30.4 to 29.4)