LeBron James has joined the Western Conference for the first time in his career, and while the Lakers aren’t expected to be among the West’s elite teams immediately in 2018-19, his presence only further clutters things at the top moving forward.
The Houston Rockets were the top seed in the conference last year, eventually falling to the Golden State Warriors in seven games in the conference finals. They are expected to be Golden State’s top competition again this season, although there are questions to be answered about some of the rotation pieces that were swapped out this summer.
Even though Houston is projected to win 57.5 games and the Lakers are only expected to win 48.5 games by Vegas sportsbooks, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey refuses to overlook L.A. in 2018-19. Morey went on the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and noted that while he expected his Rockets to be better than the Lakers, he knew better than to count out a LeBron-led team, calling James “the greatest ever.”
Morey goes on to explain that based on what he does to generate wins and increase championship probability for a team, he thinks at this point LeBron has created a fairly sizable gap over Michael Jordan in the greatest ever debate.
“I think you just look at his ability to generate wins and championship probability over time and you basically break that down — and obviously, you don’t have to, you don’t need all the numbers, you can watch as well and see that — but if you basically isolate that and also look at the career he’s had, frankly I think at this point it’s become a bit of a big margin, actually, where he’s come out ahead,” Morey argued. “I know that’s a little controversial.”
It’s a bold statement and one that will certainly have him hearing from Jordan fans, but it’s not totally surprising that Morey would fall into the LeBron camp on the GOAT debate, as the more analytic-minded NBA observers are often the ones that make up the LeBron side of the argument.