LeBron James will forever hold bragging rights over Kobe Bryant when it comes to the NBA's all-time scoring list.
But does that mean he's the better scorer?
With the King moving past the Mamba, we put it to our experts to settle the dispute once and for all.
Stats don't tell the whole story (they never do!), but here are some things to consider:
- The scoring average: 27.10 for James, 24.99 for Bryant
- The scoring crowns: two for Kobe, one for LeBron
- Averaging 30 for an entire season: Kobe did it three times, LeBron did it once
- Seasons shooting 50% from field: nine for LeBron, zero for Kobe
- Career 3-point FG percentage: 34.4 for LeBron, 32.9 for Kobe
- Go-ahead shots in final 10 seconds:
- LeBron: 9-64 FG in regular season, 8-17 FG in playoffs
- Kobe: 22-73 FG in regular season, 2-11 FG in playoffs
Before diving into our thoughts, let your voice be heard!
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): LeBron James.
And here's the thing ... IT'S NOT CLOSE.
OK, so maybe Bryant is the superior shot maker in the sense that he made a habit of making the impossible seem possible. I don't necessarily even agree with that, but I can at least respect it.
One of the reasons it feels like LeBron never hit those same difficult shots is for the simple fact that he didn't have to. He's the superior driver and finisher. He's better at creating objectively better looks. And late in his career, he's even become a premier 3-point shooter off the dribble.
He might not be as graceful and it might not look as pretty.
But make no mistake, LeBron James is pound for pound simply a better scorer. Period.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) LeBron James.
It's truly remarkable to look at the career numbers of both LeBron and Kobe and come to the realisation that the former is averaging 2.0 points per game more that the latter did across his glittering NBA career.
James has passed Bryant on the all-time scorers list in his 17th NBA season, with seemingly PLENTY left in the tank to attack Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the top of that list.
James has racked up these insane numbers while arguably deferring to his teammates far more than he ever should have through his days in Cleveland and Miami. The clincher for me is when I look at the playoff numbers.
LeBron is averaging 28.9 points across 239 postseason appearances with a true shooting percentage of 57.9 and a 3-point percentage of 33.2.
Kobe averaged 25.6 points across 220 postseason appearances with a true shooting percentage 54.1 of and a 3-point percentage of 33.1.
Kobe is without question an all-time great, but LeBron is possibly the greatest to ever lace them up. He's scored more points, he's been more efficient and he's delivered on the biggest stages of them all.
It's really not hard.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I do think this is closer than Micah and Kane make it out to be, but I still side with LeBron James.
Although there's an argument to be made that Bryant at his peak was a better pure scorer than James at his peak, we're talking about careers here, not just one, two or three seasons. For that reason, the entire body of work has to be taken into account.
Even if you eliminate the last three seasons of Bryant's career, which is when he dealt with injuries and saw his efficiency fall off a cliff, James has the edge in basically every category, whether it's points per game or true shooting percentage, all while taking the exact same amount of shots per game (19.6).
Personally, I'd rather have the player who is averaging more points with better all-around shooting percentages, both in the regular season and playoffs.
I mean, this is ridiculous:
Looking ahead to LeBron almost certainly passing Kobe on the all-time scoring list tomorrow: LeBron could miss his next 3,000 shots and his career FG% would still edge Kobe by 0.1 percent.- Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) January 24, 2020
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I tried really hard not to overthink this one.
I probably had a bit of a tougher time deciding than the guys above me but still, it's LeBron James.
The fact that LeBron is a guy who has maintaned that he's "not even a score-first guy when it comes to playing basketball," and still has a realistic shot at becoming the league's all-time scoring leader is really all I need to think about when making my decision.
He's just that natural of a scorer.
Factor in the efficiency, the evolution of his offensive game over the years and each of other points that have already been made and you've got your argument for why it is undoubtedly LeBron.
To be fair, I give Kobe the edge from an aesthetic standpoint as he's one of the smoothest scorers this game has ever seen, but at the end of the day, a rugged two-point bucket is worth just the same as a beautiful turnaround fadeaway.
Oh, and LeBron's got that in the arsenal, too…
ICYMI: LeBron's fadeaway couldn't be stopped in Game 2. pic.twitter.com/YUpCK5CEPa- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 4, 2018
LeBron will become the fourth player to hit 34K later on this season and with No. 1 in sight, it won't be long before we're asking if he's the best scorer ever. We might as well start the conversation now.
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