How many rings do you think Kobe Bryant would have if he had switched places with Michael Jordan?

Hard to say if he would have any.

Kobe is NOT Jordan, despite the media and NBA fans always mentioning them together, they are NOT that similar at all.

Let’s just set aside the resume difference of 4 MVPs, 1 ring, 4 FMVPs and 8 scoring titles (that’s like 2 HoF careers separating Kobe and Jordan right there) and focus on how they play.

-Kobe had the ‘killer instinct’ and ‘mentality’ that Jordan had. He also had Jordan’s skillset and moveset. However, he lacked the same physical gifts Jordan had (Kobe’s vertical was 10 inches less than Jordan), and he lacked the same basketball IQ that Jordan had in order to utilize his moves fully. For example, Kobe’s fadeway didn’t create as much space as Jordan’s fadeaway did, he often over-relied on pump fakes, and he was too eager to take tough shots. Kobe took many more contested shots than Jordan did resulting in lower efficiency overall.

Kobe didn’t fully buy into the triangle offense like Jordan did. Kobe would often go 1v1 iso against a defender, which is taking the triangle offense out of the flow. Look at Kobe in the triangle offense with Gasol and see how much spacing + ball movement is going around vs looking at Jordan in the triangle offense with Pippen and Grant/Rodman and see how much spacing + ball movement is going around. Kobe wasn’t a complete black hole but it often happened that the ball stopped with him and that’s not how the triangle offense is supposed to work. In fact, Phil Jackson has said that Kobe is ‘uncoachable’ and has picked Jordan every time when comparing the two.

Kobe didn’t have the same defensive instincts or effort that Jordan had. Despite Kobe’s 12x All-Def selections, he never came close to winning DPOY and Jordan did and there’s a reason for that.. Kobe’s defensive effort was inconsistent. In his early years he would give a solid effort on defense but in later years it would vary widly. Sometimes Kobe might get intense on someone and sometimes he might not and just kind of linger near the basket. His All-Def selections in his later years are almost certainly based on reputation not on merit. Go watch the footage of Kobe’s defense in his later years and you can tell – and the metrics (defensive win shares, DAPM, defensive rating etc) back this up.

Kobe didn’t have Jordan’s playmaking skills. Jordan genuinely had PG skills. For the 1989 season, Jordan played PG part time that season and ended up averaging 8 APG. Kobe did not have that capability. Kobe was strictly SG/SF only and did not have the playmaking skills to play PG like Jordan could.

Kobe has never won without an all-star big man on his team. I’ve mentioned before in countless posts about Kobe’s inflexibility. He’s either needed Shaq, or a combination of Gasol/Odom/Bynum to get things done. This is because of his inefficient playstyle. Jordan on the other hand, has not needed to win with star big guys. He had Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman. Grant is a very good defensive player with limited offense. Rodman is an even better defensive player with even more limited offense. Neither of them could really be counted on to help score. For centers he had Will Perdue, Stacey King, Bill Cartwright and Luc Longley. These guys are not star big men.
Jordan only needed a versatile wing player (Pippen) and a defensive big man (Grant, Rodman) and some good shooters around him (Armstrong, Hodges, Paxson, Kerr, Kukoc) and he’s good to win you some championships. Kobe needed a lot more to win. An all time great big man like Shaq + great shooters (Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Glen Rice), or a HoF level big man like Gasol + great rebounders coming off the bench (Odom, Bynum) + defensive wings (Artest, Ariza) + non ball dominant PG (Fisher). Kobe’s needs are a lot more than Jordan in order to win.

For all these reasons, I think it’s unlikely that Kobe would have won with Jordan’s Bulls teammates.


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