Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said he thinks LeBron James is the greatest basketball player ever, and not by a small margin.
Asked on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday if he expects James’ new team, the Los Angeles Lakers, to be immediate contenders in the Western Conference, Morey brought up the difficulty of getting a newly assembled team to jell right away. He added that his own team and the Golden State Warriors stand in the Lakers’ way, but was quick to note James’ teams are capable of anything.
“I would expect — I would hope that we’re ahead of them, and I would expect Golden State to be ahead of them,” Morey said, “but I would never count out a LeBron James team. I mean he is the greatest ever in my mind, and it’d be very hard to count him out.”
Morey, who is well known for his analytical approach to evaluating players, was then asked if that perception of James is a product of analytics.
“Yeah, that’s definitely part of it,” Morey said. “I think you just look at his ability to generate wins and championship probability over time, and you basically break that down. Obviously, 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 it’s — at this point, it’s become a bit of a big margin actually where he’s come out ahead.”
Morey added, “I know that’s a little controversial.”
James, 33, is coming off of a season in which he averaged career highs in assists (9.1) and rebounds (8.6) to go with 27.5 points while leading the NBA in minutes per game (36.9) and playing in all 82 games for the first time in his career.
The four-time MVP led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their fourth-straight NBA Finals appearance — the eighth straight for James’ teams — but they were swept by the Warriors. James joined the Lakers — long rumored to be the heavy favorites for his services — as a free agent in July, though some thought he might try to join the Rockets.
Asked if James ever gave the Rockets an audience, Morey didn’t answer directly, but indicated the sides didn’t speak.
“He knew our situation and obviously made the choice he thought was best for him, and we have nothing but respect for that,” Morey said.
Morey, 45, has been the Rockets’ GM since 2007 after spending a year as the team’s assistant GM. He previously spent three years with the Boston Celtics after being a statistical consultant for STATS, Inc.
–Field Level Media