Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He has been a loyal athlete and has stayed committed to the Lakers since his first season in 1996. He won NBA MVP in the 2007-2008 season and has won five championships in years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.
Lebron James has been compared to the likes of Michael Jordan even before he began playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was NBA Rookie of the Year for 2003-2004 and back-to-back NBA MVP in seasons 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Both players were drafted in the first round but in 2003 Lebron James was selected 1st overall and in 1996 Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall. Who’s the better offensive player?
That is a good question. Many individuals would label Kobe Bryant the better offensive player simply because he has five championship rings and Lebron James has none. On the other hand, Lebron James won NBA MVP twice and Kobe Bryant only won it once. In order to compare the two and come to a valid conclusion we must statistically examine the pair equally. In order to do that we need to examine Kobe Bryant’s performance from his first season to his eighth season because Lebron James has only been playing professional basketball for eight years.
Kobe Bryant Offensive Statistics
Lebron James Offensive Statistics
From the statistics we can conclude that Lebron James had taken on a more demanding role as a leader than Kobe Bryant in the beginning of his career. The reason for this was because Lebron James’ was more valuable than Kobe Bryant after being drafted. Lebron James had already signed a $90 million contract with Nike even before the start of his career and was already being referred to as the next Michael Jordan; hence his high number of games started and game minutes played.
Kobe Bryant may be the better leader overall with three of his five championship rings coming from his first eight seasons. In comparison, Lebron James was never able to lead the Cavs or the Heat to championship victory. Kobe Bryant had to create the spotlight for himself in comparison to Lebron James who was in the spotlight even before he entered the NBA.
Kobe Bryant and Lebron James achieve similar field-goal percentages in the beginning of their careers. As they matured they both begin to improve their shots in the field but Kobe Bryant hit a plateau in his 2001-02 season. Lebron James continued increasing his numbers ever year and achieved a success rate above 50%. Kobe Bryant hitting that percentage today would not have the same value because Lebron James had earned those difficult numbers earlier in his career.
Kobe Bryant hit his highest 3-point percentage in 1996-97 and 2002-03. Lebron James’ best season shooting threes was 2004-05 and 2008-09. Kobe Bryant hit higher on average and Lebron James could not match Kobe Bryant’s 3-point percentage even when shooting at his best.
Kobe Bryant was much more effective at shooting free throws in his first eight seasons. Lebron James’ was very effective as well but never managed to hit over 80% of his free-throws. Lebron James clearly proved his aggressiveness and strength over Kobe Bryant in the paint. Reason being that Lebron James dominated rebounds with numbers Kobe Bryant did not come close to in his first eight seasons.
Kobe Bryant has been known to be very selfish and proves that assumption with his low number of average assists. Lebron James is clearly the better team player because he hit high assist numbers that Kobe Bryant never hit in his first eight seasons. Kobe Bryant proves to have greater focus and more skill on the ball with his low turnover numbers in comparison to Lebron James. Kobe Bryant actually decreased his turnover rate in contrast with Lebron James who averaged at least three turnovers per game his whole career.
The pair look even when it comes down to points scored. On average Lebron James earned more points over Kobe Bryant in his first eight seasons. Kobe Bryant actually hit below 20 points per game for his first three seasons in comparison to Lebron James who was always earning over 20 points a game.
The pair are tremendous athletes and are already on the brink of being legends. I think Kobe Bryant is the better offensive player and will be considered the better offensive player even after they both retire. Lebron James has been receiving way too much attention from his introduction to the NBA. Although he proved the media correct, Lebron James would not be able to maintain that spotlight because the pressure would effect his performance as he matured to Kobe Bryant’s experience.