Greatest NBA Player #16: Kobe Bryant-172.74
Having Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant appear this early on the list is likely the biggest surprise thus far. Many have him as a top-10 player, but in terms of win shares, he ranks just 16th all-time. Unsurprisingly, most of his win shares come on the offensive end, where he put up big numbers, particularly in his late 20s, when he averaged at least 27 points per game for four straight seasons and won consecutive scoring titles.
Despite that, he wasn’t as efficient as other top-tier perimeter players, such as Jordan or LeBron. While all three had similar usage rates and each eclipsed 30,000 points, Kobe has the worst true shooting percentage of the three players at .550. Compare that to Jordan’s .569 and LeBron’s .587 true shooting percentages, and it’s understandable why he ranks much lower, even before taking defense into account.
Although Kobe was a good defender during most of the first half of his career, he dropped off on that end once he was tasked with carrying the offense post Shaq. That is fairly common, though, in terms of steals, blocks, and defensive rebounds, all of which factor into win shares, he didn’t put up big numbers.
That can underrate perimeter players who are good defenders but don’t rack up those counting stats and overrate the ones that do. With that being said, Kobe is definitely lower than he should be.