I live in SoCal, have been a Spurs fan all my life and of course its only natural to get into debates about Lakers vs. Spurs. First off, both teams have been incredibly successful since drafting Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan (which is about when I started watching basketball). Their methods have been polar opposites. The Lakers have mainly acquired their stars through free agency or trades (Shaq and Pau) while the Spurs have gotten it through the draft (Parker and Ginobili). The Lakers and Spurs have different budgets and have built their teams accordingly.
This post is going to be mostly on Duncan vs. Bryant since both of them are pretty much associated with their franchise for the past 16 or so years. I'll try to use facts for the basis of most of my comparisons, but obviously the game goes beyond that and I'll try to make it as objective as possible. Note: When I was doing some of this research (after being tired of doing endless debates ) there were quite a few stats that really surprised me considering both their primes were really in the 2000's. This will also probably be the last time I ever engage in this debate since I'm starting my job and have a few more responsibilities =].
Lets start off with the stat that everyone cares about: POINTS. To me to measure scoring, you have to look at what PERCENT of the team points your scoring and how EFFICIENTLY your doing it. Scoring 20 points when your team wins 40-30 is more impressive then scoring 20 when your team wins 80-60. Likewise, scoring 20 points on 10-20 shooting is more impressive than scoring 30 points on 15-35 shooting.
Duncan: For his career, Duncan has scored 20.7% of his team's points. Till 2004, he was scoring about 24.5% of his team's point. He did this on .552 TS% (which takes into account, 2s, 3s and FT shooting) and a .508 EFG (which takes into account 3s are worth 1.5 x more as 2s). Championship years: 23.4, 24.4, 21.1, 20.3.
Bryant: For his career, Bryant has scored 24.9 % of his team's points. He did this on .555 TS% and .487 EFG. So he shot FTs better than Duncan, but scored slightly less effective on 2's and 3's. Championship years: 22.3%, 28.3%, 24.9%, 25.1%, 26.5%.
Conclusion: Bryant, like many would expect has been the better scorer in the regular season. He has scored as efficiently as Duncan, but has scored a higher % of his team points. However, the difference in championship winning teams has been closer than their career averages. Duncan since 09 has taken a backseat in the scoring department and thus is lower than his % during his prime.
I'm not looking at Offensive rebounding % since many guys like Duncan and KG have been more focused on getting back on defense. However, DRB% is vital for a team to win a championship, while ORB has not correlated to championships.
Duncan: DRB: 26.6. Compared to 23.7 by Barkley, 25.7 by KG, 21.9 by Dirk, 23.5 by Malone, 23.6 by Shaq. Even great Centers such as Hakeen averaged 23.8% and D-Rob averaged 23.4%.As one can see, Duncan is probably the best rebounder of all the "great" PFs/Centers in the last 20 years. The only guys that beat him are guys like Rodman, 29.6% and Dwight Howard, 29.6% - two centers.
Kobe: His DRB is 12.6%. Compared to similar players: Jordan : 14.1, James: 17.6, Wade: 11.7, Harden: 11.9, Manu: 13.1 %, McGrady: 15. So Kobe is about average, worse than GOAT Jordan, James, and Manu and slightly better than Wade and Harden.
Assists: TO Ratio
Duncan: 16.5:12.2, Compared to similar players: Barkley: 17.5:14.8, KG: 19.6:11.7, Dirk 13.1:8.9, Malone: 17.6, 12.4. So in regards to other great players, Duncan is about the same. Better than a couple, a little worse than a couple.
Kobe: 24.2:11.6, Compared to similar players: Jordan: 24.9:9.3, James: 34.3:12.1, Wade: 32.2:13.7, Harden:18.3:13.7, Manu: 24.5:14.2, McGrady: 26.3:10.3 So Kobe is worse than Jordan and James (considerably), McGrady, and Wade. He has an advantage over Harden and Manu. So
Blocks and Steals:
Duncan: In terms of Blocks, Duncan is about as good as they come for PFs, topping KG, Malone and Dirk. Tied with Shaq. Hakeen and David Robinson bested him by about 1% respectively (4.6 compared to 5.3 and 5.7).
Kobe : In terms of steals, Kobe is the 2nd to last in the pack. He is bested by Jordan, James, Wade, Harden and Manu. He beats McGrady by .1 %. Jordan is the leader of the pack with 3.1%, so all of them are within 1% of each other.
I'm going to group these up, since these give pretty accurate measures of offensive production and the offense/defense rating while on the floor.
PER: Duncan's PER is 24.7, Kobe's is 23.4. None of them have led the league in PER in the regular season.
OTG: This is how many points a team scores per 100 possessions. The team's OTG when Duncan is on the floor is 110. Kobe's is 112.
DTG: This is how many points a team gives up per 100 possessions. The team's DTG when Duncan is on the floor is 95. He has led the league in DTG 4 times in the NBA. Kobe's is 105.
NTG: So the Net Rating for Duncan is 15 and Kobe's is 7. I think this shows well how Kobe's teams have had slightly better offense, while Duncan has led the LEAGUE in his defensive rating.
WS/48: Duncan: .214, Kobe: .183.
Conclusion: Outside of scoring, it seems that Duncan has been the better regular season player BY A SLIGHT MARGIN. His offense is at a very elite level, but across the board he is better. When it comes down to it Kobe is better on offense and Duncan is better on defense, but Duncan is closer to Kobe on offense than Kobe is to Duncan on defense. Please do not tell me how many All-Defensive Teams Kobe has been. Even if you do believe ALL of them were deserved the fact is that 7 footers are anchors of the defense. If you look at the list of DPOY awards, 90% of them are Big men for a reason. They simply matter more.
Duncan beats Kobe in PER by 1.3, EFG% by 2.1%, DRB% by 14%, BLK%, DTG by 10, WS/48. Kobe beats Duncan in: TS% by .004, AST% by 7.7%, OTG by 2, TO % and STL %. It seems that Duncan's rebounding is better than Kobe's ability to assist, Duncan's blocking ability compares better than Kobe's ability to steal and Duncan's overall net ratings is more than double that of Kobe's.
So why is it that Duncan only has 4 rings, while Kobe has 5? Lets look at second part of this which is Playoff stats.
I'm not going to go as in depth in this one as you guys are probably falling asleep.
I want to compare how they're stats compare in the playoffs to the regular season.
Duncan: PER goes up from 24.7 to 25.3, TS% goes down from .551 to .549, eFG goes down from .508 to .502. DRB goes down from 26.6 to 25.7, AST% goes up from 16.5 to 17.5, BLK% goes up by .2%, TOV goes up by .2 %, OTG stays the same, DTG goes up by 3, NTG of 12, WS of .198.
Kobe: PER goes down from 23.4 to 22.4, TS% down from .555 to .541, EFG down from .487 to .48. DRB down from 12.6 to 11.9, AST% down from 24.2 to 23.3, STL% down from 2.1 to 1.9, TOV % down from 11.6 to 11. OTG down from 112 to 110 and DRT up from 105 to 106, So net rating of 4 and WS goes down from .183 to .157.
a) Championship Seasons: Duncan PER: 26.45, Kobe: 23.26. What strikes out to me is how Duncan's play has been much higher in the playoffs than of Kobe's. The biggest being the INCREASE in PER, while Kobe's goes to very low levels at 22.4 for an "MVP."
b) Kobe Bryant has shot 40.5 % or under in four out his six NBA Finals appearances (Around 36% in his first and 38% in his fourth appearance). You cannot deny that this is a very bad shooting % over the course of his Finals appearences
c) In year 2000, during the regular season, Bryant averaged almost 29 points and five assists per game. How did these stats translate over to the NBA Finals? They lowered to 15 points and four assists per game. Meanwhile Shaq averaged around 37 points a game and 18 rebounds a game.
d) Was Kobe the 2nd best player on this championship team? YES, was it even close? NO. This follows for the next 2 championships as well. Kobe did have very good series's during the run to the finals, but it can't be denied that during the most critical moment, Kobe was the 2nd fiddle and what is even more important is that his numbers dropped.
e) In the 2004 NBA Finals, Shaq averaged 26.6 points per game with a .631 field goal percentage, while Kobe Bryant averaged 22.6 points per game with a .381 field goal percentage. This is what stands out to me about Kobe. He might have possibly shot his team out of a championship. Was that Pistons's team good? Yes, but there was something during that series that showed that Kobe cared more about getting the Finals MVP more than winning a championship.
f) As a teammate you can't deny that Duncan is a better teammate. He truly makes players around him better. He hasn't feuded with ONE player in his 16 years. It makes a difference.
g) Consistency: Duncan has shown that season in and season out you can count on the Spurs for 50 wins. Out of his 16 years in his league, only about 3 of them were we not serious contenders. For Kobe he has missed the playoffs and also suffered the largest loss in a game 7 of a playoff series. This is where my bias might be coming out, but I believe consistency is important. For Kobe to succeed he has needed the most ideal situations such as Phil Jackson, Shaq, Pau, Bynum and very good players. He was given the opportunity to lead the team, but instead never trusted his teammates (he had other team mates than Kwame brown FYI) and needed a true star next to him. While Parker and Gino were good Parker didn't really hit his prime till a couple years ago and Gino was never a top 10 player like Shaq or Gasol.
Please share your thoughts.