Complete Player Comparison for Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 27, 2013

Complete Player Comparison for Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant

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    You probably wouldn't put up a fight if someone said that Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant were the two best pure scorers of the post-Jordan era.

    Between them, they have every trick in the bag. But whose tricks are cooler? Who's better in each facet of the game?

    Let's explore everything from their three balls to their post games to their defense, and figure out who has the edge in each department.

Finisher at the Rim

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    Edge: Kobe Bryant

    Over his career, Kobe has had some pretty mean and ferocious dunks. He's also displayed the flexibility to elude defenders in the air and finish acrobatically. We've seen him go up with his right and score with his left or take off on the strong side and finish on the weak side.

    When Durant takes it to the hole, you're either likely to get a vicious slam or a tear drop with touch. It's not too often you see Durant go with the up-and-under or the layup in traffic, primarily because he's so comfortable in the mid-range that he doesn't even need to get that close to the rim.

    But if you had to pick a better finisher at the basket, you probably won't find a more versatile and efficient scorer than Kobe Bryant.

Three-Point Shooting

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    Edge: Kevin Durant

    Durant's range is ridiculous. He's a career 37-percent three-point shooter, but that doesn't tell the story. He's got one of the most effortless strokes you'll see, with the ability to pull up with comfort 27 feet from the basket.

    Kobe is more of a volume three-point shooter. He heats up and goes nuts. Kobe, along with Donyell Marshall, hold the NBA record with 12 three-point makes in a single game.

    But with Durant's size and length, there's just no such thing as a contested look from behind the arc. Defenders can't play too far up on Durant or he'll blow right by. And if they lay off a bit, he'll sink a dagger from deep with the ability to rise and fire over anyone.

    For their careers, Kobe makes 1.3 three-pointers per game, while Durant makes 1.5.

Post-Up Game

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    Edge: Kobe Bryant

    There's nothing prettier than a Kobe Bryant fadeaway from the post. With his back to the basket, Bryant can turn over either shoulder to create separation.

    But what's incredible about Kobe's post-game is his ability to shoot on the way down. For most, if the ball isn't released at the apex of their jump, forget about it—the ball might not even reach the rim.

    But Kobe's ability to adjust mid-air and wait til the very last second to avoid a contested shot allows him to get open looks at the rim at the most inopportune times.

    Durant can post and has added to his repertoire this year, but he's not nearly as comfortable with his back to the basket as Kobe.

Step-Back Jumper

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    Edge: Kobe Bryant

    Kobe Bryant is known for his ability to nail contested jumpers on a routine basis. He's open when he's covered. Being able to separate from a defender is what makes great scorers great. Bryant can create his own shot under the most daunting circumstances.

    While Durant is equally capable of separating and converting off-balance, he doesn't do it with the regularity and consistency of Kobe.

    There isn't a better step-back jump shooter in our game, and there hasn't been anyone close since Michael Jordan.

Pull-Up Jumper

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    Edge: Kevin Durant

    Kevin Durant's ability to dribble around a screen a pull-up with balance is one of the reasons why his offensive game is so potent. His pull-up jumper is more or less his layup. At around 6'10'' with an unmatchable wingspan for a perimeter scorer, Durant can rise and fire without ever having his shot contested—and he can do it from 10 feet or 27 feet from the basket.

    Kobe can knock them down with the best of them, but he prefers to fade left, right or back instead of going straight up.

    It's just a preference thing. Who's got the better pull-up game really isn't all the meaningful.

Foul Shooting

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    Edge: Kevin Durant

    Durant used to get knocked for not getting to the line enough. It actually turns out that for his career, though Kobe Bryant's is obviously a lot longer, Durant is averaging eight free throw attempts per game compared to Kobe's 7.6.

    Durant also shoots a career 88.2 percent from the stripe, compared  to Kobe's 83.8 percent.

    Bottom line: Both can get to the line, and both convert at remarkable rates. But technically, Durant is the more automatic of the two.

Defense

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    Edge: Kobe Bryant

    Kobe Bryant has made the NBA All-Defensive first team eight times over his career. You just can't mess with that.

    He's considered a lockdown perimeter defender, rare for a scorer who needs to conserve all the energy he can in order to cook on the other side of the ball.

    Durant's size forces him to guard bigger and stronger scorers, and while he's not a defensive liability, he doesn't offer the same lockdown services as Bryant.

Passing

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    Edge: Kobe Bryant

    Believe it or not, Kobe Bryant is actually a pretty good passer. Because of his off-the-dribble game, he's able to create scoring opportunities for others. It's just a matter of trusting his teammates and having the willingness to give it up.

    Except for this year, Bryant hasn't exactly had a point guard capable of breaking down the defense. He's started many possessions with the ball in his hands, which makes him a playmaker, and not strictly a scorer. In fact, he racked up 14 assists just the other night against Utah.

    Durant, on the other hand, has Russell Westbrook, who handles all the playmaking responsibilities for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has given Durant one simple instruction, and that's to put the ball in the hole.

Intangibles

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    Edge: Kobe Bryant

    What the heck are intangibles? For the most part, they're the qualities or strengths of an individual that can't be quantified—like Kobe's basketball IQ, leadership and contagious intensity.

    He's the guy who tells you that your work has been unsatisfactory. He's also the guy who inspires through actions over words.

    Bryant may be thought of as a ball hog, but the intangibles he brings to the table makes his teammates better whether he's passing the ball to them or not.

    This isn't a knock on Durant; he just hasn't been in the league long enough to pick up on some of things Kobe has figured out over his 17-year career.

Closer

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    Edge: Push

    Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are the first two guys you'd call on down one with 10 seconds left.

    Bryant has been the most dangerous and reliable closer over the past 15 years. He lives for the last shot.

    But so does Durant.

    When the game is on the line, everyone in the building knows who's getting the ball, and there's just nothing the opponent can do about it.

    These guys have ice water running through their veins. By the end of their respective careers, it will be interesting to see who finishes with more game-winners.