By Jonathon Roquet
LeBron James is frequently deemed the greatest basketball player since Michael Jordan by fans, sports pundits and even fellow NBA players. Some even believe LeBron is better than Jordan. Because the two superstars played in different eras, it’s difficult to definitively say who was the better player.
But, what about Joe Brattin?
Brattin, the former Rio Americano High School standout from suburban Sacramento, California, showcased his talents and then some during the 2004-’05 season for the Raiders. For example, according to MaxPreps, Brattin scored 20 of Rio’s 43 points in a barn-burner against the El Camino Eagles on January 27, 2005.
But the question still remains: Could the LeBron of today beat the Brattin of the ’04-’05 season?
It’s understandable that naysayers believe it’s impossible to settle the debate. Brattin, 27, is currently a Claims Specialist with Liberty Mutual and hasn’t been on the court competitively in years. I appreciate that Brattin’s fans are very passionate, so please digest the following points and provide feedback that isn’t just heated passion for the Sacramento native.
1. Three-Point Shooting
During the ’04-’05 school year, it’s true, Brattin was a an absolute rocket launcher from beyond the arc. Jo-Bra, as very few called him, sunk 22 of his 68 three-point shots, putting him at a 32% rate. It was difficult for any player to contest the 6’5″, 195-pound forward.
Jo-Bra was a star from three-point range, but King James got the edge last season. LeBron hit 116 of his 306 three-point shots (348 points total) giving him a 38% rate — six percentage points better than Brattin.
2. Defensive Versatility
Brattin’s blocks-per-game average of 1.6 soared above the national average and got the attention of guards who thought they could easily get a shot off inside the paint. Some people referred to Brattin as the “Big Red Windmill” for his flailing arms constantly sending shot attempts into the bleachers.
Though LeBron has not been the shot-blocker Brattin was, the “Chosen One” was a thief on the hardwood. He racked up 121 steals in ’13-’14.
Brattin’s 21 steals in ’04-’05 landed him just 0.8 steals per game.
3. Foul Rate
This one is obvious: Brattin brought the hurt a little too often.
4. Most Playoff Games With 25+, 5+ Rebound, 5+ Assists
This is where LeBron secures the win in the argument. LeBron ranks first among players who have scored 25+ points, grabbed five or more rebounds and tossed five or more assists in a playoff game. He’s done it 74 times — one more time than Jordan, 22 more times than Kobe Bryant, and 74 more times than Brattin who never made it to the playoffs in his career.
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