Ranking LeBron James with the Best Second-Half Stars in NBA History

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 17:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference points in the fourth quarter during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on February 17, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the "second half" of the NBA season starting up following the All-Star break, it's always interesting to see how players fare in the second half compared to the first.

Generally, we see a player or two break out for whatever reason and look like a second-half All-Star, if there were such a thing.

Even more interesting is that on average players who made the All-Star team at the break fall off a bit in the second half. They end up playing fewer minutes, and as a result, the rest of their stats fall off just the slightest bit.

It seems that it's likely because All-Star players are generally on teams already in the playoff race, and by the time the end of the season rolls around, they've got the ability to play fewer minutes, leading to a slight drop in statistics.

Still, it's interesting to see how some players play in the first half compared to the second. Do they stand steady, pick it up in crunch time or take a break and coast into the playoffs or the offseason indifferently.

From what I've found, it seems that LeBron James is in a tier with just a few other people in terms of second-half performance. Surprisingly enough, the only other people at or above his level are exactly the people you would have guessed:

Via @eliassports LeBron James career 28.3 PPG after the All-Star Break. The only players higher are MJ (30.2) and Wilt (29.8)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 19, 2013

Looking specifically at a handful of players, it's interesting to see the guys who pick up their performance in the second half.

Obviously, Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone are guys who played at such a high level throughout their careers that they're going to have amazing second-half numbers.

Kobe averages 25.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists after All-Star breaks throughout his career, which are numbers very similar to what he's able to do in the first half.

For the most part, Kobe doesn't seem to discriminate—he's just there to play some basketball.

Malone, however, bumped up his offensive output in the second half, averaging 25.6 points (one more than his first-half average) to go along with 10 rebounds.

When talking about some of the younger guys in the league now who aren't LeBron, there are three once again unsurprising players who stick out above the rest.

Dwyane Wade bumps his offensive output up just a bit to 25 points per game after the All-Star break, as does Carmelo Anthony at 25.1 points per game, while Kevin Durant holds steady, more or less, at 26.4 points per game.

Going beyond this generation of players, there are three names that are extremely intriguing in how much better they perform in the second half. Two are surprising. The other, not so much.

Allen Iverson not only scored more, but he became incredibly more efficient after the All-Star Game was played.

Iverson averaged 26.4 points per game in the pre-break times, and went up to 27.1 points per after the break. Most jarring is that his 41.9 percent shooting suddenly bumps up nearly two points, up to 43.8 percent, while his efficiency from the three-point line increased a full three percent.

An even bigger increase happened in the post-break games for Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins made a huge jump, going from 24.6 points and 6.6 rebounds up to 27.1 points and 6.8 rebounds.

The most jarring increase, and perhaps the least surprising large increase, comes from Larry Bird.

Bird in the first half averaged "just" 23.9 points, nine rebounds and just under seven assists. 

Fast-forward to after All-Star breaks, and he's dominating, averaging 26.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. On top of that, he goes from 48.4/38/91.7 shooting percentages up to 50.8/40.7/90.4 percentages.

Of course, the top three second-half performers are LeBron, Wilt and Jordan, which makes sense when you consider that they also happen to be three of the most statistically dominant players in the sport's history.

Between LeBron and Michael, we see an obvious disconnect. Whereas LeBron seems to kick it up a bit in the second half, Jordan was at a constant level of production.

James goes up a full point to 28.3 points, but he actually drops off a bit in terms of efficiency, shooting 48.3 percent compared to 49.1 percent from the field.

Jordan, meanwhile, went from averaging 30.3 points in the first half to 30.2 points in the second, while holding steady at 6.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game from the first to the second.

Even better, he jumps a full percentage point to 50.2 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from the three-point line.

There's a very interesting observation to be made when looking at players' first halves compared to their second halves, and it seems that for a lot of the players, the numbers speak for themselves.