Who's the next Michael Jordan? Seemingly asked with each new star that bursts upon the NBA scene, the answer seemingly changes each season. While the league has yet to produce anyone who fits the bill aesthetically, statistics offer a hint by way of similarity scores, which measure how closely one player resembles another. Factors such as a player's size (height and weight), shooting percentage, assist ratio (assists per 100 possessions), rebound rate (percentage of missed shots a player rebounded while he was on the floor), turnover ratio (turnovers per 100 possessions) and usage rate (possessions per 40 minutes) are taken into account when calculating similarity scores. The scores range from 0 to 1000, with 1000 being a perfect score. (For more details on the similarity scores method, please read this article.)
So who measures up? To Jordan? Not many. But, based on their statistics from last season, plenty of today's superstars remind of some of the more famous -- and infamous -- players of the past 25 years.
In the table below, 82games.com's Roland Beech and I have tabulated how closely some of today's players compare to their predecessors. Please note that even though two players may be statistically similar, it does not mean that they were the same type of player. It simply means they produced similar results.
Looking for the next MJ
Who matches up to yesterday's stars?
Let's take a look at some of results in depth.
Larry Bird-LeBron James
Other than being close in height, Bird and LeBron James do not physically resemble each other. However, they do have similar skill sets. Over the course of his career, Bird averaged 25.3 points per 40 minutes with an assist ratio of 20.5, while last season James averaged 25.7 points per 40 minutes with an assist ratio of 20.6. Bird's career usage rate was 28.1, compared to James' usage rate of 28.8. Of course, there are some differences between the two players, most notably in their rebounding. Bird was the superior rebounder, with a career rebound rate of 14.5 percent (James' rebound rate was 10.2 percent in 2004-05). Still, it says quite a bit about James that as a 20-year old he had a season that was similar to a typical season from Larry Bird.