Kobe Bryant 2008-10 vs. LeBron James 2011-13 Playoff Stats

Kobe Bryant 22.3 40.7 0.9 5.7 5.5 1.6 0.7 3.1 29.8 0.466 0.340 0.845 0.570
LeBron James 22.3 42.8 1.8 8.8 6.0 1.8 0.9 3.2 26.6 0.486 0.336 0.758 0.575
Michael Jordan* 18.3 41.5 1.4 6.6 7.0 2.4 1.0 3.2 34.1 0.513 0.364 0.849 0.587

It’s fun to compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan, but looking at the playoffs stats of Kobe’s 3 finals runs from 2008-2010 versus LeBron’s 3 finals runs from 2011-13 is a lot closer. In fact if you ignore the metrics and just look at the actual numbers, it’s very tough. Everything is extremely close except LeBron has 3 more rebounds per game and Kobe has three more points per game. Turnovers are even. Assists are nearly even. TS% is nearly even, LeBron is .005 better (or 1/2 a percentage point better).

I didn’t expect that. LeBron is touted as a pillar of efficiency, and Kobe is thought of as something of a conscienceless volume shooter, but the numbers show relatively even efficiency and production in the playoffs.

I tucked MJ’s 1990-1992 playoff numbers into the bottom there. They aren’t pace-adjusted or anything, so they can be quibbled with if you feel it necessary, but his advantages in efficiency and scoring are significant enough that I’d predict a pretty decent lead even if Kobe and Bron gained a possession in the translation (I’ve run pace adjustments for both in the past over these spans of years, and it does amount to approximately 1 extra offensive and 1 extra defense possession per game, not enough to make a major impact).

The figures in this post aren’t intended to prove anything in and of themselves. The numbers just surprised me enough that I felt like I should share them.


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12 Responses to “Kobe Bryant 2008-10 vs. LeBron James 2011-13 Playoff Stats”

  1. Greg Says:

    Well, for those of us who watched all three of these players play in these time periods, these numbers pretty much sum up what we saw. Jordan was dominant to a degree neither Kobe nor Lebron has been in the playoffs while winning. Kobe and LBJ, about equal. As you noted, it’s interesting that Kobe’s efficiency was basically equal to LBJ. Of course, this is when Kobe’s efficiency was peaking in the playoffs.

  2. louis johnson Says:

    kobe is the best ever deal with it

    • Greg Says:

      What are you basing your opinion on? All the evidence would seem to contradict you. Kobe’s an all time great, but too many other players simply have a better case as GoAT.

  3. jpalumbo Says:

    I’ve run a few different Kobe comparisons to see if there’s a way to bring his stats more into line with his reputation, and what I’ve found is that you have to be selective with his seasons because he started so young and then has had sporadic injury issues.

    • Greg Says:

      True. Even if you cherry-pick Bryant’s 3 best season and stack ’em up next to the 3 best of LBJ and Jordan, you are left with:

      PER: Kobe-26.8, LBJ-31.47, Jordan-31.5
      WS/48: Kobe-.215, LBJ-.313, Jordan-.316
      TS: Kobe-.575, LBJ-.616, Jordan-.608

      Kobe’s a fantastic player, but he simply doesn’t produce as much, isn’t efficient as, and falls a bit to quite a bit short of Lebron and Jordan statistically.

      • Pd614 Says:

        Let’s compare careers when Lebrun has the same amount of years under his belt as mj and kobe …. Not an easy task to continue playing at this high level for another 8 years plus when his athleticism is gone can he adjust into the post up player mj and kobe became and still dominate an nba game without jumping thru and over defenders

      • jpalumbo Says:

        Good point. His size should help his longevity some. He could conceivably team with a good point guard and move to more of a pick and roll finishing power forward style as his quickness diminishes.

  4. Breon ThaKidd Says:

    It’s funny how the author chose the 1990-1992 run with MJ and the Bulls, a much younger MJ compared to a much older Kobe in his almost second 3-peat in 2008-2010. May we compare Kobe’s playoff second run at a 3-peat to Jordan’s playoff second run ?? Because Many of you have fell for this slight of hand trick so I will bring light to the subject..

    KOBE 2008-2010: 22.3G 40.7MP 0.9 ORB 5.7TRB 5.5AST 1.6STL .7BLK 3.1TOV 29.8PTS .466FG% .340 3PT% .845FT%

    MJ 1996-1998: 19.3G 41.5MP 1.8 ORB 5.9TRB 4.1AST 1.6STL .6BLK 2.3TOV 31.4PTS .459FG% .299 3PT% .820FT%

    This is the true comparison amongst the greatests of all time ! YOU BE THE JUDGE…

    • jpalumbo Says:

      The author actually set out to compare LeBron and Jordan at the same ages, which I did. I just happened to notice that Kobe compared favorably to LeBron and wanted to point that out because I bet it’s a big surprise to everyone claiming LeBron is the greatest thing ever to happen to the game. Despite being a Celtics homer, I’ve spent a lot of time on this site trying to give Bryant his due.

      Kobe age 29-31 is in fact not a “true comparison” to Jordan age 32-34 . There’s no overlap. The point of the post wasn’t to show that Jordan age 26-28 was better than Bryant age 29-31. It was to show that LeBron age 26-28 is closer to Bryant age 29-31 than he is to Jordan age 26-28. Jordan age 26-28 isn’t really meant to equate to Bryant at all.

      I can’t give you Jordan age 29-31 because he was retired for most of that time. I can give you Kobe ages 32-34, but he doesn’t stack up statistically or make the Finals any of those years, so if your goal here is to find a way to elevate Bryant, that won’t help.

  5. ... Says:

    Jordan was 28-30 during his first 3-peat…

    • jpalumbo Says:

      You’re correct. His birthday falls in Feb, so my favorite stat site lists him as a year younger for each season since he’s that age the majority of the time, but he has hit the new age prior to the playoffs.

  6. ... Says:

    his second 3-peat was 33-35

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