Most followers of the NBA think LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are the two best players in the NBA. Well, there is pretty convincing evidence that Kobe Bryant may not be the best player on his own team? If you look at how the Lakers play with various combinations of Odom and Bryant in and out of the game during the 2009 playoffs it becomes clear that if Odom is not as good as Bryant, he certainly is an outstanding player. Look at the following numbers:
- With Bryant and Gasol in and Odom out the Lakers were outscored by3 points in 320 minutes. After adjusting for the strength of opponents faced, the Lakers played 4 points better than an average team (per 48 minutes) during these 320 minutes.
- With Bryant out and Gasol and Odom in during the playoffs the Lakers outscored their opponents by 21 points in 86 minutes! After adjusting for the strength of opponents faced the Lakers played 13 points better than an average team (per 48 minutes) during these 86 minutes.
- As expected, with Kobe, Gasol and Odom in during 535 minutes the Lakers outscored their playoff opponents by 165 points, playing 23 points (per 48 minutes) better than an average team.
So it looks like the fantastic Kobe Bryant could not make the Lakers outscore playoff opponents with Gasol in unless he had Odom in. On the other hand Odom and Gasol easily dominated their opponents without Kobe. Makes you question the “conventional wisdom”!