Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant: Who Is the Greatest Scorer?

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IMarch 28, 2012

Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant: Who Is the Greatest Scorer?

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    Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been without a doubt one of the greatest scorer's the NBA has ever seen. He's practically done it all, in what is now his 16th season in the NBA.

    From an early age, he started to draw comparisons to the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan.

    While early on in his career the comparisons to Jordan may have seemed ludicrous, after a while they seemed natural and watching Kobe throughout his career, they became warranted.

    Heading into last night's game against the Golden State Warriors, Kobe needed 25 points to pass Jordan for the second-most career points with one franchise. He did what he does best and closed out the opposition, finishing with 30.

    That wasn't the first time that Bryant passed Jordan on a scoring list this season, as he also became the leading scorer in All-Star Game history with 263 career All-Star points.

    But who actually was the better scorer?

    Has Kobe actually outperformed Jordan throughout his legendary 15-year career.

    We break it down category-by-category, in an attempt to find out who exactly was the NBA's better scorer, Bryant or Jordan.

    Let's take a look.

Career Scoring Average

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    Since both have played around the same amount of time in the NBA, it's fair to take a look at the most obvious category and that's each stars career scoring average.

    Jordan: 30.1 PPG

    Bryant: 25.4 PPG

    We can take an even closer look and look at their scoring averages per 36 minutes and here's what we get.

    Jordan: 28.3 points per 36

    Bryant: 25.1 points per 36

    That closes the gap some for Bryant, but on a per game basis, Jordan has the edge here and those number reflect two seasons in Washington where Jordan wasn't at his best, averaging only 22.9 PPG in 2002 and 20.0 in 2003.

    Edge: Jordan

Number of Season's Averaging over 30 PPG

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    This one is a early round knockout for Jordan as he did it eight times throughout his career, including a remarkable seven straight seasons of averaging 30-plus from the 1986-87 season through 1993.

    Bryant on the other hand has accomplished the feat three times, including doing it in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007.

    Edge: Jordan

Best Overall Season

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    Bryant put together a simply outstanding season in 2006 in which he averaged 35.4 PPG. That certainly has to be a number Jordan never hit, right?


    Jordan averaged 37.1 PPG throughout the 1987 season.

    Bryant's 2006 campaign actually was better than any other Jordan season, but not the 1987 season, which gives Jordan another edge.

    Edge: Jordan

Scoring Championships

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    Jordan in his prime was the most dominant scorer of all-time, leading the league in scoring a whopping 10 different times.

    He did so seven consecutive seasons from 1987-93 and then did so three straight seasons from 1996-98.

    Shockingly, Bryant has only won two scoring titles (2006 and 2007) and could be on his way to a third this season, leading the NBA with a 28.3 points per game average.

    Edge: Jordan

Field Goal Percentage

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    One thing about both guys is the fact that they love to shoot the ball. That's what great scorers do. But who was the better shooter.

    Looking at each guys career percentage from the floor we come out with this.

    Jordan: .497

    Bryant: .453

    I actually though this could have been closer for Bryant, but Jordan was nearly four percent better, which adds up to a lot throughout 15 seasons.

    Jordan shot over 50 percent from the floor six times during his career and his career worst was a 41 percent effort in 1995, his return year to the NBA from minor league baseball.

    Kobe's never come close to having a season in which he shot 50 percent from the floor. His best was in 2002 in which he posted a .469 field goal percentage and his worst was during his rookie season 1997 when he shot .417 from the floor.

    Another win for MJ.

    Edge: Jordan

3-Point Percentage

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    So far, Jordan's been the all-around better scorer, but who's the better shooter from behind the arc?

    Let's take a look.

    Jordan: .327

    Bryant: .336

    Looks like a win for Kobe, despite having a brutal 2012 season (.287) shooting the ball. Bryant's best season from behind the arc came in 2003 when he knocked down 38 percent of his attempts.

    Jordan on the other hand started out as a brutal three-point shooter, never connecting on more than 18 percent during his first four season in the league. He did make himself a good shooter, having three solid season's from behind the arc from 1995-97, in which he combined to knock down 238 of 587 attempts (41 percent), but despite those three season's this one is a win for Kobe.

    Edge: Bryant

Free-Throw Shooting

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    Much of the success for each guy has been the ability to get to the free-throw line on a frequent basis. Getting there is one thing though, knocking them down is something different all together.

    Here's a look at each guys career percentage from the charity stripe.

    Jordan: .835

    Bryant: .838

    Nearly similar throughout their careers, Bryant gets to the line an average of 7.6 times per game, knocking down 6.4 of those attempts.

    Jordan got to the line 8.2 times per game and knocked down 6.8 of those attempts.

    He did make one with his eyes closed though, so that should count for something.

    Not in this battle.

    Edge: Bryant

Career 40-Point Games

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    Both guys have been volume scorers throughout their respective careers, but who sustains it the most when they catch fire?

    Here's a look at each individual's 40-plus point games.

    Jordan: 211 (173 regular season, 38 postseason)

    Bryant: 122 (111 regular season, 11 postseason)

    Really no contest here as Jordan wins going away.

    Edge: Jordan

Career 50-Point Games

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    Since we are on the volume scoring theme, let's take a quick look at 50-plus point games as well.

    Jordan: 39 (31 regular season, eight postseason)

    Bryant: 25 (24 regular season, one postseason)

    Another big advantage for Jordan.

    Edge: Jordan

Best Career Game

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    Our final category takes a look at each player's best single-game effort.

    Jordan: 69 (on March 28 1990 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers)

    Bryant: 81 (on January 22, 2006 vs. Toronto Raptors)

    Bryant was light's out against Toronto and that's something we may never see again, so he gets the edge here.

    Edge: Bryant

    But as you can see from the breakdown, while Bryant has been great throughout his entire career as a scorer, he's still no Jordan as MJ takes seven of the 10 categories.