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LeBron James vs Kobe Bryant: A Complete Comparison

Daniel Crouch
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5.24K   //    Timeless

Raw and Advanced Stats


Cleveland Cavaliers v Phoenix Suns
Cleveland Cavaliers v Phoenix Suns

LeBron James career averages: 27.4ppg, 7.2rpg, 7.4apg, 1.6spg, 0.8bpg, 50.4 FG%, 34.5 3FG%, 73.8 FT%, 3.5 TOs

Kobe Bryant career averages: 25ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.7apg, 1.4spg, 0.5bpg, 44.7 FG%, 32.9 3FG%, 83.7 FT%, 3 TOs

Based on career averages, LeBron James is clearly the better player at both ends of the floor; Kobe only betters him in free throw shooting percentage and turnovers. This comparison is unfair, however, as Kobe's career averages aren't reflective of who he was at his best. His career averages account for his last four years which were ravaged by injuries and playing on a team which was tanking. It's also important to remember that while Kobe took several years to adjust to the NBA after being drafted at age 16, LeBron received MVP votes in his first year. A more accurate comparison would be looking at the best 14-year stretch for each player.

This comparison accounts for LeBron's entire career besides his first two seasons. For Kobe, it excludes his first and last three years in the league, which means it accounts for all of his 16 legitimate all-star appearances.

LeBron James 2005-06 - 2018-19: 27.7ppg, 7.5rpg, 7.3apg, 1.6spg, 0.8bpg, 51.4 FG%, 34.7 3FG%, 73.7 FT%, 3.5 TOs

Kobe Bryant 1999-00 - 2012-13: 27.8ppg, 5.7rpg, 5.2apg, 1.6spg, 0.5bpg, 45.5 FG%, 33.6 3FG%, 84 FT%, 3.2 TOs

It's a closer comparison this way, but LeBron still has the clear advantage overall. While scoring the same amount of points, LeBron has consistently been a better passer and scored much more efficiently through his career.

Through the exact same time period, LeBron also smashes Kobe in advanced stats. Player efficiency rating - where LeBron ranks second all-time behind Michael Jordan - true shooting percentage, win shares per 48 minutes, box plus/minus and value over replacement player are all clearly in LeBron's favour. Kobe claims a slightly better usage rate, but that isn't a good thing given his below average shooting percentages.

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LeBron James 2005-06 - 2018-19: 28.6 PER, 59.7 TS%, 32.0 USG%, .253 WS/48, 9.8 BPM, 115.3 VORP

Kobe Bryant 1999-00 - 2012-13: 24.1 PER, 55.6 TS%, 32.5 USG%, .190 WS/48, 4.7 BPM, 68.5 VORP

All stats have been taken from Basketball Reference.

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