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Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant: Career Highs Comparison

Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant: Career Highs Comparison

There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are both in the argument for being two of the top-five scoring talents in NBA history. But when looking at their resumes and careers, they are much more than scorers. Bryant won 5 NBA championships in his career, adding in 2 Finals MVP awards and a regular-season MVP award. A top-two shooting guard of all time, The Black Mamba is also the most clutch player in NBA history outside of Michael Jordan. No player has made as many game-winners as Bryant, as evidenced by his collection of clutch shots. Outside of Magic Johnson, Bryant is known to be Mr. Laker because he had the most accomplishments for the iconic Los Angeles Lakers franchise.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is a once-in-a-lifetime player because he took what George Gervin did as a slender scorer except added an elite three-point shot. Over his career, Durant’s shooting percentages are ridiculous for a 4-time scoring champion. Winning 4 scoring titles normally means a player has to take a ton of shots, but Durant managed to accomplish those awards without changing his game. Durant is a team player who likes to pick his spots on offense, a reason why he holds averages of 49.6% FG, 38.4% 3-PT FG, and 88.4% FT.

That is why it could be interesting to compare both players in terms of their statistical achievements. Specifically, it is time to uncover their career highs in major statistical categories to get an indication of which player was able to accumulate stats better than the other. While many will claim that Kobe Bryant is a greater all-time player than Kevin Durant because of his 18 All-Star selections and 5 championships, does he have the edge in the most important career-high statistical categories? It is time to find out.


Points

Kobe Bryant: 81 Points (Lakers vs. Raptors, January 22, 2006)

Kevin Durant: 55 Points (Nets vs. Hawks, April 02, 2022)

Kobe Bryant has the record for the second-highest scoring output in NBA history, scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006. Somehow, Kobe found the range in this regular-season encounter, going ballistic on all areas of the floor to shoot 28-46 from the field including 7-13 from three and 18-20 from the free-throw line. 

The Los Angeles Lakers were not a good team at the time, and Bryant’s offense was needed as they were on their way to losing the game. Kobe led the Lakers in an easy win against the Raptors 122-104. Only Wilt Chamberlain (100 points) had a higher-scoring game than the Black Mamba.

Kevin Durant’s career-high came this past season, as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. The talented forward went ballistic on the Hawks’ defense, nailing 19-28 shots from the field including 8-10 from three and 9-11 from the free-throw line. Anytime a scorer of Durant’s caliber nails 8 three-pointers, a historic game should shortly ensue which is what happened on April 2, 2022. Despite Durant’s offensive explosion, the Nets still lost the game 122-115. 

It is amazing how Durant never eclipsed 55 points because he has the skill and capability to score over 60 points in a single game with relative ease. Once again, KD never has that burning desire to take over with his offense and instead wants to play the game the right way.

Advantage: Kobe Bryant


Rebounds

Kobe Bryant: 16 Rebounds (Lakers vs. Raptors, January 24, 2010)

Kevin Durant: 18 Rebounds (Thunder vs. Timberwolves, January 26, 2011)

Kobe Bryant once again has a career-high performance against the Toronto Raptors, in the month of January. But this time, it comes in the form of crashing the boards. The talented shooting guard achieved his career-high in rebounds with 16 in a regular-season showdown that unfortunately ended in a one-point loss. The Raptors won the game 106-105, but Bryant led all players with an impressive 16 boards. Bryant averaged 5.2 RPG for his career, so he was always capable of grabbing the ball off the rim consistently.

Kevin Durant is close to 7-feet tall, so it is no surprise to see him grab an impressive 18 rebounds in a performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 26, 2011. Another career-high stat achieved in the month of January between the two players, Durant actually had an impressive all-around game with 47 points on 15-28 from the field to go along with his 18 rebounds. While leading his team in rebounds (Kevin Love had 21 rebounds), the Thunder won the game 118-117, interestingly making it a one-point victory.

Advantage: Kevin Durant


Assists

Kobe Bryant: 17 Assists (Lakers vs. Cavaliers, January 15, 2015)

Kevin Durant: 16 Assists (Nets vs. Pacers, April 10, 2022)

Kobe Bryant was a scorer, and he made no apologies about that. The Laker star was known to be a gunner, taking the most shots on his team consistently and forcing everyone to accept that. The reason? Bryant won 5 championships that way, so it clearly worked. But Bryant was a very capable passer, something that was often underrated by fans and media members. 

The shooting guard had one of the highest basketball IQs in NBA history, and he used it to accumulate an impressive 17 assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers in January of 2015. Against LeBron James (36 points, 5 assists), Bryant had more assists than the entire Cavaliers team but still lost the game 109-102.

The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant had another career-high performance this season, putting up 16 assists in spectacular fashion in a 134-126 victory over the Indiana Pacers. A score-first player, Durant is not known for his passing ability although he is above-average in that regard. Over his career, Durant is averaging 4.3 APG so he can move the ball when required to. 

Against the Pacers, KD had 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 16 assists in a virtuoso performance. Anytime a score-first player of Durant’s caliber feeds his teammates like that, a win is normally ascertained which is why three of his teammates scored at least 20 points including Kyrie Irving (35 points).

Advantage: Kobe Bryant


Steals

Kobe Bryant: 7 Steals (Lakers vs. Jazz, February 13, 2006)

Kevin Durant: 5 Steals (Thunder vs. Mavericks, December 13, 2008), (Thunder vs. Mavericks, April 3, 2010), (Thunder vs. Clippers, November 21, 2012), (Thunder vs. Nuggets, January 16, 2013)

Kobe Bryant registered an impressive 7 steals in a showdown against the Utah Jazz in 2006, while also putting up 23 points. The Lakers won the game rather convincingly, 94-88, and his career-high in steals usurped the entire Jazz team. The shooting guard is an elite defender with 12 All-Defensive Team selections, so he clearly knew how to punish the opposition for their poor handles and inability to make solid plays. Whether playing passing lanes or picking the ball in one-on-one situations, Bryant was a hound at getting steals.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant had a career-high 5 steals in four different games over his future Hall of Fame career. The first came in 2008 when he managed 5 steals against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. The last time KD did that was in 2013 when he managed 5 steals against the Denver Nuggets, once again as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Slim Reaper has an average of 1.1 SPG compared to Kobe Bryant’s average of 1.4 SPG, which is why he never managed to eclipse the 5-steal mark.

Advantage: Kobe Bryant


Blocks

Kobe Bryant: 5 Blocks (Lakers vs. Grizzlies, December 11, 1999), (Lakers vs. 76ers, February 20, 2000), (Lakers vs. Hornets, February 02, 2001)

Kevin Durant: 7 Blocks (Warriors vs. Pelicans, October 20, 2017), (Warriors vs. Kings, February 21, 2019)

Kobe Bryant managed to block 5 shots in a single game on three separate occasions, the first being in 1999 and the last coming in the 2001 season. It is not surprising to see Kobe’s career-high in blocks come when the shooting guard was younger, because his athleticism and hops were extraordinary. “Afro Kobe” could leap off his feet with extreme ease, a reason why he managed to swat away an impressive 5 shots in a single game. Bryant has a career average of 0.5 BPG with his best season in that regard coming in 1999 when he registered 1.0 BPG. Not known as a shot-blocker, Bryant had a natural defensive IQ to get to shots when he got ahead of steam.

Kevin Durant, at nearly 7-feet tall, could be a nightmare on defense when he was a member of the Golden State Warriors. Because of the amount of talent around him on the offensive end, Durant could hone in on his defense which is a major reason why he blocked an impressive 7 shots on two separate occasions. The first came in 2017 against the Pelicans when Durant also registered 22 points and 8 rebounds. The next came in 2019 when KD dropped 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Over his career, Durant has an average of 1.1 BPG.

Advantage: Kevin Durant


3-Pointers Made

Kobe Bryant: 12 3-Pointers Made (Lakers vs. SuperSonics, January 07, 2003)

Kevin Durant: 8 3-Pointers Made (Nets vs. Hawks, April 02, 2022)

Known as a volume three-point shooter and not a natural marksman from deep, Kobe Bryant managed to drain 12 three-pointers in a game against the SuperSonics in 2003.

Unsurprisingly, Bryant had a massive offensive game as he finished with 45 points on the night on 12-18 from three. Kobe had the ability to get hot from anywhere on the perimeter, and even if he shot a career 32.9% from three, he could make his shots and demoralize the opposition. Of course, the Lakers won the game 119-98.

Kevin Durant did not make his career-high 8 three-pointers as a member of the Golden State Warriors but as a member of the Brooklyn Nets this past season.

The forward made 8 threes against the Atlanta Hawks, even though the Nets lost the game 122-115 in the same game when KD scored his career-high 55 points. Somehow, the Nets could not close the deal because the Hawks had enough juice thanks to a 36-point, 10-assist performance from Trae Young.

Advantage: Kobe Bryant


Field Goals Made

Kobe Bryant: 28 Field-Goals Made (Lakers vs. Raptors, January 22, 2006)

Kevin Durant: 19 Field-Goals Made (Thunder vs. Nuggets, February 19, 2012), (Thunder vs. Warriors, January 17, 2014), (Nets vs. Knicks, March 13, 2022), (Nets vs. Hawks, April 02, 2022)

Kobe Bryant hit his career-high 28 field goals in the iconic performance in the 2006 season against the Toronto Raptors. The Black Mamba was simply unconscious because he played with rage and aggressiveness that we had never seen before. The shooting guard went 28-46 from the field, including 7-13 from the three-point line and 18-20 from the free-throw line. When looking at how Kobe played, it was clear he had no shame in taking almost 50 shots in the game and he carried the Lakers to an impressive 122-104 comeback victory.

Kevin Durant’s career-high in points scored pales in comparison to Kobe’s, and so do his career-high in field goals made. The swingman made 19 shots on four separate occasions, even though he could have made over 20 field goals with relative ease. But Durant’s unwillingness to force the issue and instead share the ball cut his statistics back. Still, KD made 19 shots with the Thunder on two occasions and 19 with the Nets this season. In a span of under two months, Durant went off against the Knicks and Hawks, going for 53 points and 55 points respectively.

Advantage: Kobe Bryant


Free Throws Made

Kobe Bryant: 23 Free-Throws Made (Lakers vs. Cavaliers, January 30, 2001), (Lakers vs. Knicks, January 31, 2006)

Kevin Durant: 24 Free-Trows Made (Thunder vs. Clippers, January 23, 2009)

Kobe Bryant was not only a terrific mid-range scorer, but he was adept at attacking the rim to generate fouls. An explosive athlete in his prime, Bryant found it too easy to get past his opponents and he was normally hacked to stop him from getting an easy layup or dunk. Of course, Bryant was also adept at pump-faking and drawing fouls on his jumpers. Bryant hit 23 free throws in a single game on two different occasions, the first coming in 2001 and the last coming in 2006. Bryant scored 47 points and 40 points respectively in those games.

Kevin Durant never scored as much as Bryant in one game in terms of total points, but he still made more free throws in a single game than The Black Mamba did. The forward made 24 foul shots in January 2009 against the Los Angeles Clippers, on 26 attempts. Unsurprisingly, Durant scored 46 points and led all scorers in the game. But rather shockingly, Durant could not guide the Oklahoma City Thunder to a victory as the Clippers won the game 107-104.

Advantage: Kevin Durant


Turnovers

Kobe Bryant: 11 Turnovers (Lakers vs. Pistons, January 31, 2008)

Kevin Durant: 11 Turnovers (Thunder vs. Spurs, January 22, 2014)

Kobe Bryant averaged a career 3.0 turnovers per game, mainly because he was such a high-usage player who handled the ball a ton and also was forced to create offense for his team. With Bryant facing consistent double-teams throughout his career, he was forced to deal with aggressive defenses and his passes would often go uncaught. Bryant also managed a whopping 11 turnovers in a game against the Pistons in 2008, negatively impacting the game in which the Lakers lost 90-89 despite the shooting guard scoring 39 points.

Kevin Durant is similar to Kobe in terms of the aggressiveness he has had to face over his career, a reason why he has an average of 3.2 turnovers per game. Similar to Kobe, Durant had a career-high 11 turnovers in a single game against the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Except for this time, Durant was able to lead his team to victory against the Spurs by scoring 36 points. It is interesting to see how both Bryant and Durant turned the ball over so much against elite defensive teams because both the Pistons and Spurs were known for their lockdown defense.

Advantage: Even


Kobe Bryant Is A Greater Stat Machine Compared To Kevin Durant Who Is A Team Player

No doubt about it, when looking at the career-high statistics, it can be deduced that Kobe Bryant is a greater individual talent than Kevin Durant because he was a more selfish player due to his desire to be the single most dominant NBA star to have ever played. It is no secret that Bryant wanted to win games his way because he knew in his heart only Michael Jordan had intangibles that could be considered better than his. A score-first shooting guard with zero conscience, Bryant managed to usurp the majority of Durant’s career-highs. It truly takes a special kind of scorer and mentality to be able to score 81 points in an NBA game.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is and will always be a team player. Despite standing close to 7 feet tall with incredible length and shooting ability, Durant never tried to shatter scoring records because he wants to share the ball and play the right way. For years, during Durant’s days in Oklahoma City, fans and pundits pleaded for KD to take more shots than Russell Westbrook and be selfish in terms of looking to score. But Durant is not built like that, and never will be. That is why his career-high is “only” 55 points when he could score 60 points if he wanted to.

It is even interesting to see that Durant has made fewer threes in one game than Bryant, despite being a better shooter from beyond in terms of percentages. KD is averaging 38.4% from three over his career, a higher figure than Kobe’s 32.9%. Obviously, Kobe played in a game where the three-point shot was not as valued as it is today, but Durant is still a better pure shooter. Because of Kobe’s desire to score regardless of his teammates’ feelings, he has more records that go towards scoring.

When it comes to other areas of the court, including rebounding and passing, they are similar. Bryant was a gifted passer, and he could have led the league in APG if he put his mind to it. Even when he was a score-first player, he knew how to make elite passes. So it is no surprise he has the edge over Durant in career-high assists, and almost equals Durant’s career-high in rebounds. KD is 6’10” and looks to be 7-feet tall from the naked eye, so the fact that he has only two more rebounds than Kobe’s career-high is interesting. Otherwise, the career highs for each player are more or less expected.

Overall, when it comes to volume shooting and scoring, Kobe greatly usurps what Durant did over his career. As a taller player who competes at the forward position, KD has the edge in areas where size is important, including rebounds and blocks. It can be deduced that Bryant is a more talented individual talent across the board, but Durant is more of an efficient team-first player. 

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