Kobe vs Lebron and Wade: Does He Play Differently Against Them? (Click Image to Enlarge)

How does Kobe’s game change when he plays against his closest peers, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade?  The table above attempts to answer the question, and all stats are on a per 36 minute basis.  I’ll start with Wade.  Kobe is record is 7-7 against Wade; Kobe takes almost two shots less per game, and when playing against Wade his field goal percentage barely changes.  His rebounds decrease by 1.6 and assists and steals don’t really change much.  It seems that Kobe plays a less aggressive game when he plays Wade; the rebounding and shot taking numbers are evidence of that.  A plausible reason could be that he guards Wade for much of the game and becomes slightly less effective in the other parts of his game. 

Kobe is 5-9 against Lebron in their head-to-head match-ups.  It seems that Kobe puts more effort into the Lebron games than in the Wade games.  His field goal attempts increase slightly, but he is less effective.  His FG% against Lebron is .410 vs .456 against the rest of the league.  Even though he takes fewer three pointers against Lebron’s teams, his two-point field goal attempts seem to be either long-range shots or high degree of difficulty shots.  His FG% on two point shots is .446 against Lebron and .491 against the rest of the league; a big difference.
The numbers seem to indicate that Kobe plays with more aggression against Lebron, but as it seems most times when Kobe is extra aggressive, he forces the issue and doesn’t play at his most efficient level.

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