Late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was one of the NBA’s greatest players of all time. His myriad of individual and team accomplishments speaks for itself, and he remains an icon who has inspired millions to be their best and chase their dreams.
However, he received lots of criticism, especially during his playing career, because he wasn’t as efficient as some other superstars. Although his career 55.0 true shooting percentage and 48.2 effective field goal percentage were solid, today’s superstars have him beat in both categories.
However, it is important to put things in their proper context, and part of that context should be the era one played in.
Analyst Jason Timpf had an important reminder that Bryant played most of his career in what some call the “deadball era.” In addition, Timpf feels if he played in the current era, he would’ve been much more efficient (h/t The Cold Wire).
(Note: the video below contains some strong language)
"If Kobe [Bryant] played today, he'd be far more efficient than he was in the late 2000s."@_JasonLT believes Kobe would thrive in today's NBA. Do you agree? 🤔
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 14, 2023
Part of Timpf’s argument is the fact that Bryant had a career-high 50.4 effective field goal percentage during the 2012-13 season, which was around the time the league was changing.
The NBA of the late 1990s and 2000s, as he also pointed out, was a very stagnant, iso-heavy era, and the game back then was played at a very slow pace. Simply by playing in one of today’s fast-breaking or up-tempo offenses, Bryant would’ve gotten a couple more easy baskets a game, which would’ve fattened up his efficiency.
In fact, as Tom Haberstroh illustrated in 2020 shortly after Bryant’s tragic death, the Lakers great had the NBA’s highest-scoring season ever when adjusted for pace.
Earlier this season, I looked at James Harden’s scoring season vs Wilt Chamberlain’s ‘62 season and adjusted it for pace and was surprised to learn that neither had the top scoring season ever.
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) January 27, 2020
That didn’t even take into account the bump in efficiency Bryant would’ve enjoyed had he been in his prime during the early 2020s.