Kobe Bryant’s All Time Win Share Problem

A head pat the little brother, a historic nut punch to #1?
A head pat the little brother, a historic nut punch to #1?

A head pat the little brother, a historic nut punch to #1?

There’s been lots of talk recently after ESPN ranked Kobe 12th all time in the 2016 NBA All Time Rank piece they’ve been doing. I don’t really want to discuss the rank but the reaction to it.

I’ve heard many say too high, too low, and in response I’ve asked for someone, Kobe’s zealous fans, to reconcile why Kobe has never led one of the great teams, ones he’s given credit for in such discussions, in win shares. He’s being compared to the Brons, MJs, Birds and Magics here. So why not?

Win shares put simply are a rough estimate of your contributions in winning games. So if you lose the game, no one gets win shares. If you do those who put up the numbers to the win get a share of that win. Here’s a detailed explantion.


And here’s the problem. Every year it’s Shaq or Pau Gasol that led the Lakers in win shares. 2008 is a special year because Pau wasn’t there for half the season, however both Pau/Bynum are ahead of Kobe in WS/48 minutes with his clearly in third.

I suggest he’s overrated being billed as his team’s far and away best player because his underrated teammates contributed to wins more. I think it’s pretty simple to see how the statistics back this up, but they’re just statistics. Can anyone explain this dependency?

It’s not like this is a fluke one year thing. Shaq is obvious however this spans his entire career with Pau as well.

2011 Pau 14.7. Kobe was in a virtual tie with Lamar Odom 10.3 to 10.1. In 2012 it’s even worse as Kobe is in a very distant third with Pau having 8.3 and Bynum having 8.0. Kobe had 6.2.

There is no better microcosm for the Pau/Kobe relationship than the following video. Kobe repeatedly making bad decisions driving into traffic for hero shots while Pau comes through and closes the finals for him. It happened, and everyone knows it happened.

But people keep saying Kobe is this relentless winner who carried his team and led them to wins. So lets give some context here and examine the people he’s being compared to from random seasons.

In 1998, MJ’s lease productive year he had 15.8 winshares. At the age of 34. #2 was 7.8.

In 2000 Shaq had 18.6 to Kobe’s second at 10.6.Kobe closed that gap a lot, credit is due, but he never overtook him and clearly never had anything comparable.

On Larry Bird’s all time super star studded 86 Celtics team Bird had 15.8 WS. #2 was McHale at 11.0.

During Magic’s lowest WS season of 10.2, he still led second place Kareem at 8.9, and that’s only because Magic only played 67 games to Kareem’s 80.

In 1981 Kareem won a ring with rookie Magic Johnson putting up 14.8 WS to Magic’s 10.5.When he won a title with Bucks he had 22.3 to the Big O’s 12.4.

In 1994 when Dream had his first run to the ring, he put up 14.3 WS to second place 9.8. However that was actually at the end of Dream’s prime.

More “leadership” from the finals…

I’ve looked up numerous players and I just can’t see anyone that Kobe is being compared to with this same pattern. Everyone else no only dominates the NBA but their win shares and contribution to wins. Not year after year of second place. While Kobe has only led basement/last place in the playoffs teams in win shares.

Is there an answer besides Kobe being a gifted second fiddle elevated by the Lon Angelos media to first string? Maybe the stats just aren’t fair to his game? Perhaps the argument does exist… somewhere… but I can’t come up with it. Can you?

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