I think he is top 10, but nowhere higher than #9. Why? Because Kobe has always been, and will continue to be, rated much more highly by fans than by analysts. The reason is pretty simple: Kobe is an inefficient player. Besides his rings (which are team awards), his individual awards are lacking (only 1 MVP, 2 finals mvp, 2 scoring titles).
Kobe Bryant – 5 rings, 1 MVP, 2 Finals MVPs, 15x All-NBA, 2x scoring champ, 45% FG %
the 15x All-NBA and 5 rings are probably Kobe’s best awards – but the 5 rings come with an asterisk because the first 3 rings he was not the best player on his team. He has 2 rings as his team’s best player. In the top 10, no other player has less than 2 MVPs and at least 2 rings as the team’s best player except for who you place at the #10 spot which is either Jerry West, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq or Oscar Robertson depending on the person.
Jordan – 5 MVPs, 6 rings as the best player, 50% FG%
Kareem – 6 MVPs, 3 rings as the best player (1971, 1980, 1985), 56% FG%
Wilt – 4 MVPs, 2 rings as best player (1967, 1972), 54% FG%
Russell – 5 MVPs, 7–8 rings as the best player, 44% FG%
Magic – 3 MVPs, 3 rings as the best player (1982, 1987, 1988), 52% FG%
Bird – 3 MVPs, 3 rings as the best player (1981, 1984, 1986), 50% FG%
Duncan – 2 MVPs, 3 rings as the best player (1999, 2003, 2005) 50% FG%
Lebron – 4 MVPs, 3 rings as the best player (2012, 2013, 2016) 50% FG%
so as you can see, every player ranked ahead of Kobe has more MVPs, more rings as the best player (except Wilt) and better FG% (except Russell). And since FG% is a big deal for advanced stats like PER, TS%, etc thats why analysts don’t like Kobe. Also, 2 scoring titles is a small number (less than Iverson, Durant and Gervin who all have 4 and obviously Jordan and Wilt) when Kobe is often touted as the “most lethal scorer of all time”. These are the reasons why Kobe is often rated much more highly amongst fans then by analysts. Of course, “killer instinct” and “mamba mentality” and “cold blooded assassin” are buzzwords used by Kobe fans but there’s nothing backing it up; even clutch stats show that Kobe is 7/28 in last seconds of 4th quarter which is worse than Jordan or Lebron. And also, Kobe fans like to say that Kobe was “robbed” of MVPs by Steve Nash, but the MVP voting shows that Kobe was not on the MVP voting ballot in 2005 and was only 4th place in 2006. That’s why Kobe is only #9 at best. And sometimes out of the top 10 completely. You could make good arguments for West, Oscar, Hakeem or Shaq over Kobe. Or even Steph Curry – 2 MVPs, 2 rings as the best player (2015, 2018), 48% FG%. You might say its blasphemous but there is actually a good chance Durant or Curry can surpass Kobe in accomplishments by the end of their careers – while shooting much better.
Also I don’t trust player’s opinions either, because they are biased to their position and era. For example, Kobe said the toughest player he ever had to guard was Tracy McGrady. In an overall ranking of shooting guards though, I don’t think Tmac would be in the top 10 though. Likewise Bird said the best teammate he ever played with was Dennis Johnson. Most people would rank McHale ahead of Johnson though. There are biases because certain players play more against certain other players, and only in their own era and position etc Lastly players rely on their own opinion, less so on concrete stats which analysts do.
And also for clutch shots… is Kobe really a clutch killer? Well the stats say otherwise:
Kobe is not as good as most people believe.
Sorry to say it, but its the truth. Kobe has many accomplishments and he is a top 12 – top 8 player all time, but he will never get ranked above that. Why?
-A top 5 player of all time should have more than 1 MVP. Kobe only has one.
-A top 5 player all time should be the alpha dog for almost all his career. Kobe was not the alpha dog or the best player on his team until 2004-ish. Shaq won all three Finals MVPs (deservedly so when you look at his stats) during the first part of his career.
-A top 5 player all time, especially if he is to be considered the best “mid range shooter ever” should be more efficient than shooting 45% from the field and 33% from 3 point range. For comparison, Larry Bird and Dwayne Wade shot 4% better than Kobe from the field, and Adrian Dantley (probably the most efficient mid range shooter I think) shot an astounding 54% from the field, a whole 9% better than Kobe!
-Because of how inefficient Kobe shoots, his advance stats suffer. A top 5 player of all time would never have a PER of a measly 10.7 (Kobe during 2014 season), or produce NEGATIVE win shares for his team (as he did in 2014 and 2016).
-on top of that Kobe isn’t really as clutch as people think. There are numerous articles that prove this. here are just a few:
-a top 5 player all time is a good teammate, like Lebron, or Russell, or Wilt/Jordan later in their careers, or Bird, or Magic or Kareem. Instead, Kobe chased Shaq off the team, had numerous locker room issues, chased away free agents during the later part of his career, took a massive salary (the highest at the time) after he got injured, etc
-Kobe in his prime never took his team past the first round of the playoffs until he got Pau Gasol on the team, who I think doesn’t get enough credit for helping the Lakers out. People don’t realize that Gasol was the leader in win shares in 2010 even though Kobe got Finals MVP that year. For all the hate Lebron gets, he took his team all the way to the Finals. It was probably one of the worst teams to make the Finals (yes even worse than 2001 Iverson’s team). Without Shaq/Gasol and Phil Jackson, Kobe couldn’t take his team anywhere. Thats not top 5 player material.
-He doesn’t have any definable moments. Lebron scored the last 29 out of 30 points against the Pistons in 2007, averaged a triple double in the Finals etc. Jordan had numerous great moments. Kareem had that clutch last minute skyhook to force double overtime in the 1974 Finals. Magic had that clutch baby skyhook in 1987 against the Celtics, and that amazing Finals performance as a rookie in 1980. Kobe has that 81 point game going for him – but that’s a regular season game, and it was against a terrible team. that’s about it.
For all the reasons above I don’t think Kobe is a top 5 player all time. (and no I’m not a Kobe hater, I’m just stating the facts. Kobe ranks #9 all time for me).