Regular season? Kobe. Playoffs? Lebron.
Kobe in the regular season – because of his diverse array of offensive moves and his massive green light to chuck shots, against a mix of good and bad teams, he’s guaranteed to get a lot of points. That’s where all his 50/60 point streak comes from. That’s where his 81 points comes from. That’s where his 62 in 3 quarters comes from. Is because of this:
But you see, this doesn’t work in the playoffs. In the playoffs, the game slows down, the defenses get tighter, the opponents get better and it becomes harder to score on volume like this.
That’s why in the playoffs, Kobe’s high is only 50 points – which was against the Suns who were not a very good defensive team. His Finals high is in 2009 with only 40 points.
Now, contrast this with Lebron James.
Lebron’s playoff high is not much higher than Kobe’s – only 51 (also his Finals high btw) – but he puts up higher averages much more consistently than Kobe does.
Let’s take a look at the Finals, which is the biggest series in the playoffs:
So as you can see, Lebron’s had 3 Finals (2015, 2017, 2018) where he had a higher PPG than Kobe’s best Finals (2009) – and on much higher efficiency too! In addition, guys like KD, D-Wade, Giannis, Shaq, Dr J, West and Barry have all scored more than Kobe in the Finals.
In addition, Lebron outscores Kobe in elimination games by over 11 PPG and 4% better efficiency.
The reason is because in the playoffs, Kobe’s volume shooting no longer works well against tighter defenses and a slower paced game – now he’s still a very good scorer in the playoffs as he averaged 25 PPG in the playoffs – but he can no longer put up those ‘scoring explosions’ his fans love to brag about in the regular season. Lebron in the playoffs is not affected by this, he’s not a volume scorer and can easily drive into the paint and blow by defenders as easily as he could in the regular season. In addition after 2011 he added a post game and improved his perimeter game as well. In fact, Lebron shot 40% from 3 point range in the 2013 season. This is higher than Kobe’s 3P% in any season. So Lebron’s efficiency definitely helps him in the playoffs, whereas Kobe’s inefficiency continues in the playoffs.
And of course, Lebron just averages more in the playoffs in general. 28 PPG compared to Kobe’s 25 PPG. So for all these reasons Kobe might give u higher regular season numbers but I’ll take Lebron in the playoffs.