Small Forward: LeBron James vs. Harrison Barnes
If it was unfair to compare Mario Chalmers and Stephen Curry, and if it was cruel to compare Dwyane Wade and Klay Thompson, comparing Harrison Barnes and LeBron James should be a crime, especially if we just look at the regular season numbers. There is not much competition between a Nine-time All-Star, four-time MVP and Finals MVP and a rookie.
James has had the highest Player Efficiency Rating or PER of any active player for the last six years, and is only second to Michael Jordan in terms of career PER. The extremely versatile 6’8’’ swingman can virtually guard any position on the floor and posted an incredible statline for the 2012-2013 season. He averaged 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block per game. He had an insane 56.5 percent shooting percentage from the field, going 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.
But you already knew LeBron was great. The question is how does Barnes stackup?
Well, not well on paper. Barnes averaged just nine points and four rebounds per game during the regular season. He did manage to put up much better numbers during the postseason, where an absentee David Lee let the Barnes take more shots, and a result he nearly doubled his output to 16 points and six rebounds per game. I profiled Barnes against James earlier last month, and if the Barnes ramped up performance from the regular season to the playoffs, compounded with the fact that he is still a rookie, serve as any indication, Barnes will be one of the best small forwards in the game in the years to come.