1. Inefficiency and shots per game
Kobe fans love to bring up Kobe had the highest PPG since MJ in the ’05-06 season, but there’s one thing Kobe fans like to leave out. The way at which Kobe averaged 35 PPG. MJ once averaged 35 PPG, but on 54% shooting and 24 field goals attempted per game. Kobe averaged 35.4 PPG on 45% shooting and 27.2 FGAs. There’s a big difference. In fact, Kevin Durant’s ’13-14 season and Stephen Curry’s ’15-16 season were both better scoring seasons than Kobe’s. While Durant only averaged 32 PPG and Curry only averaged 30.1 PPG compared to Kobe’s 35.4 PPG, it’s well worth noting how much more efficient Durant and Curry were. Looking first at FG% there is a clear outlier. While Durant and Curry both shot 50% from the field, Kobe shot 45%. Now looking at True shooting % (a stat that combines 2 pointers, 3 pointers, and free throws to determine your overalls shooting efficiency) Kobe is once again last in the pack. Curry TS% is 66.9%, Durant’s is 63.5%, and Kobe’s is only 55.9%. When we start to look at effective field goal % (a stat that adjusts for the fact a 3 pointer is worth more than a 2 pointer) things start to go very badly for Kobe fans. While Curry shoots 63.0%, Durant shoots 55.9%, Kobe shoots only 49%. What a casual box scores watcher will also probably miss is how many shots Kobe took per game. In their respective seasons, Kobe had 27.2 FGA per game, while Durant and Curry respectively only had 20.8 and 20.2 FGA per game. If they were to be averaging Kobe’s 27.2 FGA per game, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t be averaging well over 35 PPG. Not to mention, Kobe had a 38.7 usage rate while Durant and Curry had only 33.0 and 32.6 usage rates respectively. Finally, looking at some advanced stats, Kobe’s numbers are the worst of the 3 in nearly every stat. He is last in PER, AST%, offensive win shares, defensive win shares, total win shares, WS/48, offensive and defensive box plus/minus, and value over replacement player. While Kobe may have averaged the most points per game, Durant and Curry were able to score almost the same amount of points much more efficiently and were much more helpful to their offense.
2. Hand-checking all but gone
In the 1994-95 season hand checking was eliminated from the end line in the backcourt to the opposing foul line. Even though this rule was made, hand-checking was still common in the NBA. In the ’04-05 season, the NBA brought down its fist on hand-checking and referees started calling any sort of obvious hand to body contact a foul on the defense. This was a crippling blow to NBA defenders all around the league. The stats showed it. In the two season before the ’05-06 season, a combined total of 8 players scored over 25 points per game and 1 scored over 30 points per game. In the ’05-06 season? 10 players scored over 25 points per game and 3 players scored over 30 points per game. One of those 3 players? Kobe Bryant. This isn’t to discredit the feat the Black Mamba accomplished that season. However, it is worth noting he was playing against defenders who were being forced to adapt and completely change the way the defending and they were exposed. The numbers don’t lie.
3. Team success
While Kobe put up nice numbers, his team struggled. They finished 45-37 earning them a 7 seed, and were then eliminated in the 1st round by the Phoenix Suns. I know this isn’t the exact same scenario, but Kobe essentially did what you all slandered James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, and Demarcus Cousins for this past year. Phenomenal individual numbers that doesn’t translate into team sucsess. You can put up the greatest numbers ever seen, but if those numbers only earn you a 7 seed and a 1st round exit. Your season doesn’t not deserve whatsoever to be called the GOAT season. End of story. Game over.