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Why is Kobe Bryant perceived as an inefficient scorer and shooter when he was anything but?

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So I noticed that Bryant's name seems to come up a TON/gets referenced all the time whenever a star scores with huge volume but crappy/bad scoring efficiency. He's almost become the poster boy for that along with Iverson and I think it's bullshit because he was a FAR, far more efficient scorer than the likes of Iverson or Westbrook and obviously a much better shooter.

I just don't get it. His TS% relative to league-average were consistently good/very good and certainly far better than the guys he's consistently lumped in with like Iverson/Westbrook. His relative TS% numbers over his career (before Achilles injury) were every bit as good as guys like prime Wade, second 3-peat Jordan or Larry Bird and he maintained that scoring efficiency for a very, very long time.

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I think it's important to keep in mind that league average TS% from 1999-2004 was significantly lower than usual as that was the best defensive era in history with the hand-checking and zones being allowed... and obviously, Kobe played a big part of his era in that era.

Here are his relative career TS% numbers:

97 Bryant: +0.8%

98 Bryant: +2.4%

99 Bryant: +3.8%

00 Bryant: +2.3%

01 Bryant: +3.4%

02 Bryant: +2.4%

03 Bryant: +3.1%

04 Bryant: +3.5%

05 Bryant: +3.3%

06 Bryant: +2.4%

07 Bryant: +3.9%

08 Bryant: +3.6%

09 Bryant: +1.6%

10 Bryant: +0.2%

11 Bryant: +0.7%

12 Bryant: +0.0%

13 Bryant: +3.5%

Here's what that number would be equivalent to in raw TS% going by the last full season (league average during the 2016 season: 54.1% TS)

1997: 54.9%

1998: 56.5%

1999: 57.9%

2000: 56.4%

2001: 57.5%

2002: 56.5%

2003: 57.2%

2004: 57.6%

2005: 57.4%

2006: 56.5%

2007: 58.0%

2008: 57.7%

2009: 55.8%

2010: 54.3%

2011: 54.8%

2012: 54.1%

2013: 57.6%

Now maybe I'm wrong but I consider a 57-58% TS% to be strong scoring efficiency and that's where he was usually at or otherwise at 56%+ which is still good.

Now let's compare him to several other all-timers who don't seem to have anywhere near the same negative perception even though their efficiency was no better than Bryant's.

Larry Bird: 80 Bird: +.07% 81 Bird: -.07% 82 Bird: +1.8% 83 Bird: +3.0% 84 Bird: +0.9% 85 Bird: +4.2% 86 Bird: +3.6% 87 Bird: +7.4% 88 Bird: +7.0% 90 Bird: +0.9%

Now Bird does have two seasons with an efficiency that is a clear step ahead of what Bryant ever managed, but he also didn't hit prime Kobe's usual level until his fourth season, and Bryant has a ton more seasons of good/very good efficiency.

Look at their scoring efficiency numbers during their superstar years.

TS% relative to league-average: 80 Bird: +.07%

81 Bird: -.07%

82 Bird: +1.8%

83 Bird: +3.0%

84 Bird: +0.9%

85 Bird: +4.2%

86 Bird: +3.6%

87 Bird: +7.4%

88 Bird: +7.0%

90 Bird: +0.9%

Average: +2.89%

01 Bryant: +3.4%

02 Bryant: +2.4%

03 Bryant: +3.1%

04 Bryant: +3.5%

05 Bryant: +3.3%

06 Bryant: +2.4%

07 Bryant: +3.9%

08 Bryant: +3.6%

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09 Bryant: +1.6%

10 Bryant: +0.2%

Average: +2.74

That's right. Bryant the "inefficient chucker" was very barely less efficient despite a huge difference in volume.

Dwyane Wade: 2005: +3.1%

2006: +4.2%

2007: +4.2% (51 games played)

2008: +0.9%

2009: +2.9%

2010: +1.9%

2011: +3.9%

2012: +3.2%

2013: +3.5%

2014: +4.7% (54 games played)

2015: +0.0%

2016: -2.4%

Again they look virtually equal. Wade has a very, very slight lead prime vs prime but the gap is extremely small and Bryant was scoring with more volume...yet the difference in perception is vast.

So...why? FG%? Even knowing that's a useless stat to measure scoring efficiency it ignores the extra value of threes and doesn't include free-throws.

Anyone?

Now here's the guys he's consistently lumped in with.

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Kobe Bryant never forgot Allen Iverson after this game!

Iverson: 97: -2.3%

98: +1.1%

99: -0.3%

00: -2.7%

01: +0.0%

02: -3.1%

03: -1.9%

04: -3.8%

05: +0.2%

06: +0.8%

07: -0.1%

08: +2.7%

09: -4.1%

As you can see...Kobe was a far, far more efficient scorer yet he is far closer to guys like Iverson than Wade/Bird etc in terms of perception and narrative.

Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan

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I think people would be shocked at just how close MJ and Kobe look like in terms of scoring efficiency given the astronomical difference in how they are perceived ITO efficiency the and the narratives built around. It's not that MJ wasn't a clear step/tier ahead... it's just that the gap is nowhere as big as you'd expect given Kobe's rep/narrative.

Here's a comparison of what i consider to be their 1st-tier superstar season.

Here are Jordan's TS% numbers relative to league-average (ignoring the 1986 season where he only played 18 games and 1995 where he only played 17 and obviously the wizard years) 85: +4.9%

87: +2.5%

88: +6.6%

89: +7.7%

90: +7.0%

91: +7.1%

92: +4.8%

93: +2.8%

96: +4.1%

97: +3.2%

98: +1.0%

Average: +4.7%

Kobe

01: 3.4%

02: 2.4%

03: 3.1%

04: 3.5%

05: 3.3%

06: 2.4%

07: 3.9%

08: 3.6%

09: 1.7%

10: 0.2%

Average: +2.74%

-10: +2.74

So about a 2% difference.

A 2% difference in scoring efficiency is certainly significant but is it big enough to explain why one guy is constantly praised for his scoring efficiency and the other is a inefficient chucker? It's actually amazing just how much bigger the gap in perception is in reality.

Obviously I'm not comparing them as players. Jordan was on another level. It's just crazy how much a difference there is in narrative given the scoring efficiency gap is not that big

Credit: revantitan25

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