Kobe Bryant is overrated

Disclaimer: First off, non-basketball fans can ignore this post, because this is a nerdy b-ball post and stats are coming up.

Hey, I'm Kobe. LeBron is better than me, but no one knows it yet.
Hey, I’m Kobe. LeBron is better than me, but most people don’t know it yet.

Ok, so Kobe Bryant is one of the most well-known basketball players on the planet. He’s practically god in China, and many fans, particularly Lakers fans put Kobe as one of the top 5 players of all time, and some even consider Kobe to be the greatest Laker of all time, or on par with Michael Jordan.

Edit: Looks like those guys over at Boxscore Geeks (one of my favorite bball sites) just wrote an article about how Kobe is overrated a few days after me. Good timing, heh.

Now, I’m a big LA Laker fan, but even then, I think Kobe is incredibly over-rated by the vast majority of the public (in fact he got voted in this year’s all-star game despite being injured). Why? Lets take a look at his stats and his overall resume:

Why is Kobe overrated?
-Regular season: He averages 25.5 points a game, 5.3 rebounds a game and 4.8 assists a game.
-Playoffs: He averages 25.6 points a game, 5.1 rebounds a game, and 4.7 assists a game.
-His field goal percentage for his whole career is a measly .454 (45%), and his three point percentage is .335 (33%). Those are not outstanding numbers for someone who is a top 5 player.
-His first three championships are because of Shaq, period. Shaq was just so dominant, that I think an average shooting guard could have won those three championships from 2000-2002 playing with Shaq. Remember Shaq was often double or triple teamed, giving a guard better looks.
-Kobe is a ball hog, period. The years he led in scoring (2006,2007) he also not coincidentally had a high number of field goal attempts as well. His career assists average is only 4.8, which is lower than Allen Iverson’s assists average (6.2), who most people consider selfish as well.
-Kobe is consistently not clutch, despite there being a popular misconception that he is. In fact he only shot .413 (41%) from the field during the 2004 playoffs, and .405 (40%) from the field against the celtics in 2008, the years that the Lakers lost the Finals.

Comparison with Michael Jordan
So, a lot of people want to compare Kobe to Michael Jordan. Ok, lets do that:

Michael Jordan Kobe Bryant
16 seasons 18 seasons
Career stats: 30.1 ppg/6.2 rpg/5.3 apg Career stats: 25.5 ppg/5.3 rpg/4.8 apg
True FG%: .569 (56.9%) True FG%: .555 (55.5%%)
6 Championships 5 Championships
6 Finals MVPs 2 Finals MVPs
10 Scoring titles 2 Scoring titles
1 Defensive Player Of The Year 0 Defensive Player Of The Year
5 MVPs 1 MVP

…As you can see, Jordan beats Kobe at every category, despite playing less seasons. Also, Kobe’s first 3 championships was because of Shaq. Jordan’s 6 championships were all his. So, there’s no argument here. Jordan is better in every way.

Comparison with other Legends
The worst thing about Kobe is that he’s inefficient. Let’s compare him to some other legends:

Kobe Bryant Magic Johnson Oscar Robertson Lebron James Jerry West Larry Bird
Career stats 25.5/5.3/4.8 19.5/7.2/11.2 25.7/7.5/9.5 27.6/7.3/6.9 27.0/5.8/6.7 24.3/10.0/6.3
Field Goal % .555 .610 .564 .581 .550 .564

…So when we compare to other legends that are great shooters, Kobe actually has the worst field goal percentage, as well as coming up the lowest rebounds per game, and assists per game when compared to Oscar, Magic, LeBron, Bird, and Jerry West (in addition to Jordan).

Comparison with other shooting guards (who were former scoring leaders)

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan Dwayne Wade George Gervin Jerry West Pete Maravich Allen Iverson
Career stats 25.5/5.3/4.8 30.1/6.2/5.3 24.4/5.0/6.0 26.3/5.4/2.8 27.0/5.8/6.7 24.2/4.2/5.4 26.7/3.7/6.2
Field Goal % .555 .569 .568 .564 .550 .500 .518

Comparison with forwards (who were former scoring leaders)

Kobe Bryant Rick Barry Adrian Dantley Alex English Bernard King Dominique Wilkins Tracy McGrady Lebron James Kevin Durant Carmelo Anthony
Career stats 25.5/5.3/4.8 25.6/6.7/4.9 24.3/5.7/3.0 21.5/5.5/3.6 22.5/5.8/3.3 24.8/6.7/2.5 19.6/5.6/4.4 27.5/7.2/6.9 27.4/6.9/3.5 25.2/6.5/3.1
Field Goal % .555 .525 .617 .550 .561 .536 .519 .581 .600 .547

Kobe is not that great
So when people tell me they think Kobe is the greatest player, or a top 5 player, or greatest Laker, I’m like Are you kidding me??, Kobe is the result of great marketing, and he’s a top 10 player because of his competitiveness, but definitely not a top 5 player.

And when people say he’s the greatest Laker, I mean c’mon, if Magic Johnson shot the ball more, he would score way more than Kobe, since his field goal % is a full 7% higher than Kobe’s. Not to mention, Magic lead the Lakers to 9 NBA Finals, never caused any locker-room issues, and averaged more than twice as many assists, but anyways, you get my point. I’m not even gonna mention other Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Elgin Baylor, or Wilt Chamberlain because obviously their stats would blow Kobe’s out of the water.

So in conclusion, gimme a break; Kobe’s over-rated, he’s not as good as people think he is, and he’s not a top 5 player (Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Wilt and Magic are my picks). And definitely not the greatest Laker (Magic Johnson is).


NBA’s most dominant players of all time – ranking

I love to crunch statistics and data – and here I’ve compiled the most dominant single seasons of most NBA superstars, calculated by taking the total of the average number of points per game, rebounds per game and assists per game, since 1977. The reason I chose 1977 is because it was the first year after the league consolidated from the NBA-ABA split. And thus the level of competition became higher. Also modern rules started to take effect from that time. So unfortunately, I don’t have players like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Jerry West, Walt Frazier, Oscar Robertson, etc ranked since they played before 1977, and the numbers were exaggerated back then especially for rebounds. And yes, I realize this penalizes players like John Stockton and Tim Duncan who didn’t have a dominant season and were very consistent, but this list is for players who had very high ceilings, but it puts into perspective how many superstars had great single seasons before they got injured (Grant Hill, Bernard King, Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber, Pete Maravich are all prime examples).

But here is the list of most dominant single seasons for NBA superstars since 1977 (columns are in order, name, dominant year, PPG, RPG, APG, position played):

The most dominant single seasons for NBA superstars, ranked
The most dominant single seasons for NBA superstars, ranked

Couple things to note here:
-Shaq was incredibly dominant in 2000, beating even 1987 Jordan. I mean, 29.7 PPG and 13.6 RPG is just incredible. What a beast.
-Chris Webber’s 2001 season and Tracy McGrady’s 2003 season are monstrous: these guys deserve to go into the hall of fame for those seasons alone.
-Some players most people have not heard of: Bob McAdoo, Adrian Dantley, Bernard King, Artis Gilmore, Bob Lanier, Alex English.. there were alot of players back in the late 70s/early 80s who were very dominant offensively, and very dominant defensively, but were lost in the books after Magic/Bird arrived on the scene.
-Bill Simmons considers a score over 42 eligible for ‘Level 4/Pantheon’ level greatness. Of course, thats an average over an entire career.
-Players with no standout season but consistent performance like John Stockton and Tim Duncan are not represented well on here. Doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic players, just means they didn’t have as high peaks.

Here are the greatest single season performances of NBA players, by position:

Point Guard
1) Magic Johnson (1987) – 23.9/6.3/12.2
2) Isiah Thomas (1985) – 21.2/4.5/13.9
3) Gary Payton (2000) – 24.2/6.5/8.9
4) Chris Paul (2009) – 22.8/5.5/11.0
5) Kevin Johnson (1990) – 22.5/3.6/12.2

Shooting Guard
1) Michael Jordan (1987) – 37.1/5.2/4.6
2) Kobe Bryant (2006) – 35.4/5.3/4.5
3) Allen Iverson (2006) – 33.0/3.2/7.4
4) Dwayne Wade (2009) – 30.2/5.0/7.5
5) Pete Maravich (1977) – 31.1/5.1/5.4

Small Forward
1) Lebron James (2010) – 29.7/7.3/8.6
2) Larry Bird (1988) – 29.9/9.3/6.1
3) Tracy McGrady (2003) – 32.1/6.5/5.5
4) Bernard King (1985) – 32.9/5.8/3.7
5) Adrian Dantley (1981) – 30.7/6.4/4.0

Power Forward
1) Karl Malone (1990) – 31.0/11.1/2.8
2) Charles Barkley (1988) – 28.3/11.9/3.2
3) Kevin Garnett (2004) – 24.2/13.9/5.0
4) Bob McAdoo (1978) – 26.5/12.8/3.8
5) Chris Webber (2001) – 27.1/11.1/4.2

1) Shaquille O’Neal (2000) – 29.7/13.6/3.8
2) David Robinson (1994) – 29.8/10.7/4.8
3) Moses Malone (1981) – 27.8/14.8/1.8
4) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1977) – 26.2/13.3/3.9
5) Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) – 27.3/11.9/3.6

…And just for fun, here’s the pre-1977 statistics too:

Greatest single season performances, pre-1977
Greatest single season performances, pre-1977

Will you take a look at that? How ridiculous was 1962 that five of the greatest pre-1977 players (Russell, Chamberlain, Baylor, Robertson, Bellamy) all peaked in that year??? And just take a look at Wilt/Elgin’s stats… its just ridiculous.


Top 15 Greatest NBA Teams of all time

Continuing on from where I left off, even more important than individual players, is the team as a whole. After all, a team with no superstars but plays cohesively (2013 Nuggets) will beat a team with superstars that don’t play cohesively (see 2013 Lakers as an example). But ideally, a dominant team is one that features superstars and plays cohesively (2013 Heat). So here’s my top 15 ranking of the greatest and most dominant NBA teams ever, featuring some of the greatest legends in the NBA. I’ve noted all their winning percentages (including playoffs as each team obviously won a championship), and bolded the players that are Hall of Famers.

1. 1996 Chicago Bulls
Record (regular season): 72-10
Record (playoffs): 15-3
Head Coach: Phil Jackson
Lineup: Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley
Finals MVP: Michael Jordan

Notes: They are considered the greatest NBA team, having a record of 72-10 during the regular season, and best record overall of any team in NBA history.

2. 1972 Los Angeles Lakers
Record (regular season): 69-13
Record (playoffs): 12-3
Head Coach: Bill Sharman
Lineup: Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Jim McMillan, Happy Hairston, Wilt Chamberlain
Finals MVP: Wilt Chamberlain

Notes: They have a currently unbeaten record of 33-game winning streak during the regular season.

3. 1997 Chicago Bulls
Record (regular season): 69-13
Record (playoffs): 15-4
Head Coach: Phil Jackson
Lineup: Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley
Finals MVP: Michael Jordan

4. 1967 Philadelphia 76ers
Record (regular season): 68-13
Record (playoffs): 8-4
Head Coach: Alex Hannum
Lineup: Wilt Chamberlain, Luke Jackson, Chet Walker, Hal Greer, Wali Jones
Finals MVP: Wilt Chamberlain

5. 1986 Boston Celtics
Record (regular season): 67-15
Record (playoffs): 12-3
Head Coach: K.C Jones
Lineup: Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Bill Walton
Finals MVP: Larry Bird

6. 1971 Milwaukee Bucks
Record (regular season): 66-16
Record (playoffs): 12-2
Head Coach: Larry Costello
Lineup: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Greg Smith, Bob Dandridge, John McGlocklin, Oscar Robertson
Finals MVP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

7. 1983 Philadelphia 76ers
Record (regular season): 65-17
Record (playoffs): 12-1
Head Coach: Billy Cunningham
Lineup: Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Julius Erving, Marc Iavaroni, Moses Malone
Finals MVP: Moses Malone

8. 1987 Los Angeles Lakers
Record (regular season): 65-17
Record (playoffs): 15-3
Head Coach: Pat Riley
Lineup: Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, James Worthy, A.C. Green, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Finals MVP: Magic Johnson

9. 2000 Los Angeles Lakers
Record (regular season): 67-15
Record (playoffs): 15-8
Head Coach: Phil Jackson
Lineup: A.C Green, Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Rice, Kobe Bryant, Ron Harper
Finals MVP: Shaquille O’Neal

10. 2013 Miami Heat
Record (regular season): 66-16
Record (playoffs): 16-7
Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra
Lineup: Mario Chalmers, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen
Finals MVP: LeBron James

11. 2008 Boston Celtics
Record (regular season): 66-16
Record (playoffs): 16-10
Head Coach: Doc Rivers
Lineup: Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo
Finals MVP: Paul Pierce

12. 1965 Boston Celtics
Record (regular season): 62-18
Record (playoffs): 8-4
Head Coach: Red Auerbach
Lineup: Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, K.C Jones, John Havlicek
Finals MVP: Bill Russell

13. 1985 Los Angeles Lakers
Record (regular season): 62-20
Record (playoffs): 15-4
Head Coach: Pat Riley
Lineup: Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Kurt Rambis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo
Finals MVP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

14. 1970 New York Knicks
Record (regular season): 60-22
Record (playoffs): 12-7
Head Coach: Red Holzman
Lineup: Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, Dick Barnett, Walt Frazier
Finals MVP: Willis Reed

15. 2003 San Antonio Spurs
Record (regular season): 60-22
Record (playoffs): 16-8
Head Coach: Gregg Popovich
Lineup: David Robinson, Bruce Bowen, Stephen Jackson, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginóbili
Finals MVP: Tim Duncan