So LeBron’s best friend (stats) are turning against him.
ESPN: Earlier in the month, Kobe Bryant raised eyebrows by predicting himself the obvious winner in a theoretical game of one-on-one with LeBron James. To some, the claim felt like Kobe simply exuding confidence and making a certainly believable case while recognizing Lebron’s all-around game. To others, it felt like an alpha male dog dismissive of the pup closest to assuming his dominance in the pack. (A pup who also happens to be ridiculously strong, huge and fast, by the way.)
To the stats folks, however, the claim like an excuse to bust out old game footage, some paper and a pencil. ESPN researcher Alok Pattani, through an assist from Synergy Sports Tech’s video tracking, examined every possession over the last six seasons where The Mamba and The King guarded each other on ball in “isolation” situations, the closest an NBA game offers to a “one-on-one” contest. There have been seven total meetings where this scenario has presented itself.
And here are the numbers: Kobe has scored 20 points (free throws included) on 27 isolation plays when guarded on-ball by LeBron, while LeBron has scored seven points on 13 isolation plays when guarded by Kobe. Bryant shot 9-for-28 from the field with two turnovers, while James was two-for-eight with just one gaffe. Finally, on a points-per-play basis, Kobe is ahead .74 to .54.