Why Michael Jordan Was a Better 3-Point Shooter Than Kobe Bryant
When it comes to the myriad ways Kobe Bryant falls short of Michael Jordan, many fans are overwhelmed. At this point there may be only one hope for some to illustrate how Bryant was better than Jordan in at least one category: three point shooting.
I wholly disagree; in fact, when you compare two players who shot almost the same percentage from 3-point range for their careers (Kobe 33.9 percent/MJ 32.7 percent) you must break it down to who used the three more effectively and at the right times.
The NBA 3-point line has been altered over the years, but in any season, making one of three is considered "good."
In the 1979-80, the NBA adopted the 3-point shot. During the 1994-95, 1995–96, and 1996–97 seasons, the NBA attempted to address decreased scoring by shortening the distance of the line to a uniform 22 feet (6.7 m) around the basket. From the 1997–98 season, the NBA reverted the line to its original distance of 23 feet, 9 inches (22 feet at the corners).
MICHAEL JORDAN ONLY PLAYED TWO FULL SEASONS WHERE THE THREE POINT SHOT LINE WAS SHORTER.
Let's break it down.
Shortened Basket Seasons (1995-1997)
Apparently Kobe fans don't realize when they say the basket was farther for Bryant that the basket was only shorter from 1995 to 1997.
From 1995 to 1997 (including playoffs), Michael Jordan made 287 of 748 three pointers and he shot 38.4 percent from 3-point range.
From 1995 to 1997 (including playoffs), Kobe Bryant made 57 of 159 3-pointers and he shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range.
THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS—IN THE TIME THAT THE THREE POINT LINE WAS SHORTED MICHAEL JORDAN OUT-SHOT KOBE FROM 3 RANGE 38.4 PERCENT TO 35.8 PERCENT!
Their Worst Seasons
Despite conventional belief, Kobe Bryant has had some bad shooting 3-point seasons.
In the third title season of 2002, Bryant shot 33/132 from 3-point range (25.0 percent). Thank goodness for 2002 Finals MVP Shaquille O'Neal.
Both Bryant and Jordan had four bad 3-point shooting seasons, but one of them kept throwing them up anyway and the other used the 3 for its true purpose, not bonus or desperation.
In 1999 Bryant shot 27/101 from three range for 26.7 percent shooting. In his second title season in 2001, Bryant shot 61/200 for 30.5 percent shooting. This season, at age 32, Bryant shot 115/356 for 32.3 percent from 3-point range.
Michael Jordan came into the league and hit a sad percentage from 3-point range in his rookie year. Luckily, he realized it and only took a few. In 1985 Jordan made 9/52 for in the regular season and 1/8 in the playoffs. In his second season Jordan made 3/18 in the regular season and 1/1 in the playoffs. In his third season, Jordan made 12/66 and 2/5 in the playoffs. In his fourth season, Jordan made 7/53 and 1/3 in the playoffs. In total including the playoffs MJ hit only 36/206 in his first four seasons. (17.5 percent)
Kobe was better in his worst four seasons from 3-point range than Jordan was in his worst four from three range.
Michael Jordan shot 50 percent from 3-point range in 1995, but he only played 17 games and made 16/32.
In 1996, Michael Jordan capitalized on the shorter 3-line and hit 111/297 for 42.7 percent from three point range (2.7 percent lower than Bryant's career FG percentage!) That next season, Bryant hit 51/136 from the shorter 3-range for 37.5 percent.
Bryant has never hit over 38.3 percent from 3-point range. In 2003, Bryant hit his career-high 3 percentage by making 124/324 from three (38.3 percent).
Playoff Non-Title Season 3-Point Shooting
The playoffs is NBA crunch time. Bryant made the playoffs seven times without getting to the NBA Finals. In these non-finals playoffs (1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2011) Bryant totaled 78/226 for 34.5 percent shooting.
Jordan made the playoffs seven times also without getting to the NBA Finals. In these non-finals playoffs (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995) Jordan totaled: 42/132 for 31.8 percent shooting.
In NON-TITLE PLAYOFF RUNS Kobe and MJ each had seven postseasons. Kobe shot 34.5 percent and MJ shot 31.8 percent.
In the regular season overall, Kobe shot a higher 1.2 percent higher than Jordan from 3s and in non-title playoff runs he out-shot him from 3s by 2.8 percent.
Playoff Runs That Led to Finals: 3-Point Shooting
The NBA Finals is the highest stage of basketball in the world and every shot counts on a more important level than the regular season. The finals is where legacies are made.
Jordan went 6/6 in the finals in his six finals playoff runs.
Bryant went 5/7 in the finals in his seven finals playoff runs.
In the seven postseasons where Bryant and the Lakers made the NBA Finals, Kobe shot 123/400 from 3-point range for 30.8 percent. Yes, indeed, in the postseasons where the Lakers made the Finals, Kobe actually shot worse than when his team made the playoffs but not the finals.
In the six postseasons where Jordan and the Bulls made the NBA Finals, Jordan shot 106/314 from 3-point range for 33.8 percent. Yes, indeed, in the post seasons where the Bulls made the finals, Jordan actually shot better than when his team made the playoffs bu not the Finals.
In the playoff seasons that led to the NBA Finals, Jordan OUTS-HOT BRYANT 33.8 percent to 30.8 percent!
Kobe Bryant made the NBA Finals seven times and his team won five of them. In all his seven finals series combined, Kobe Bryant connected on 48/153 3s for 31.4 percent from 3-point range.
Michael Jordan made the NBA Finals six times and his team won all six of them. In all his six Finals series combined, Michael Jordan connected on 42/114 3s for an awesome 36.8 percent from 3-point range.
FOR THE RECORD, IN THE TWO FINALS WHERE THE 3-POINT BASKET WAS SHORTER, JORDAN SHOT 14/43 THREES FOR 32.6 PERCENT.
IN THE FOUR FINALS WHERE THE 3-BASKET WAS FROM 23 FEET 9 INCHES (LIKE IT IS NOW), JORDAN ACTUALLY SHOT BETTER THAN IN THE TWO WHERE IT WAS SHORTER. HE MADE 28/70 THREES FOR 40 PERCENT!
Conclusion: Jordan Was Better at Threes Than Kobe
In the end, it looks like Bryant took lots more 3s in the regular season than Jordan. And in the regular season, he indeed shot better from that range than MJ (33.9 percent to 32.7 percent).
In playoff runs that didn't lead to the finals, Kobe shot a higher percent from 3-range than MJ.
In Jordan's best 3-point shooting season, he shot over 42 percent and Bryant's best was at 38 percent.
In their worst four seasons, Kobe shot a higher percent than Jordan.
In playoff runs that led to the NBA Finals, Jordan out-shot Bryant from 3-range.
In actual finals series, Kobe made 48/153 for 31.4 percent, and Jordan made 42/114 for 36.8 percent.
In finals where Jordan had a shorter 3-point line, he shot 32.6 percent (higher than Kobe's total either way). BUT IN finals with the long 3, Jordan SHOT EVEN BETTER AT AN AMAZING 40 percent!
Also, Jordan's 3-point mastery is known across the world. He recorded the NBA's most amazing and famous 3-point shooting display of all time when he hit six threes before halftime in game one of the 1992 Finals.
In conclusion, yes Bryant shot 1.2 percent better in the regular season over Jordan for his career, but Bryant took so many that he will forever have a career shooting clip of 45 percent. All those 3s never won extra titles, and, in fact, he shot way worse in his finals series.
When it counted the most and the title was on the line (best time to shoot 3s if needed), Michael Jordan showed that any which way you look at it, he is the most flawless player of all time and an unmatched clutch master who indeed earned the title in every way of GOAT!!!
It is an undebatable fact that Jordan was better at 3s than Bryant. Shooting tons of 3s at 33.9 percent will never win games, but the 3 is a weapon, when chosen and used correctly, that can make all the difference in the world! Thanks for the memories MJ.