In his mind at least, Kobe Bryant is the best player on the court no matter who the Lakers are playing. But he hasn't looked like the Kobe Bryant we have all gotten used to very often in this NBA Playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, and the question must seriously be asked: Is Kobe Bryant being outplayed in this series by Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki? Let me take off my writer's hat and put on my accountant's see-thru green visor thingy and crunch some numbers.
The easiest thing to compare the two players on is the success of the teams that they are leading. This category is obviously in favor of Dirk, because his Mavs hold a 2-0. In this most rudimentary form of comparison, advantage Dirk.
Offense in general is way too broad of a category, so we're going to break down it down in a few different ones. The first one is shooting the ball, because the best skill each of these players possess is putting the biscuit in the basket. Kobe is averaging an eye-popping 29.5 ppg in the first two games, but on just 47% shooting from the floor, including just 5-14 from behind the arc.
Dirk isn't averaging quite as many points as Kobe (26 ppg) but he is doing it in a much more efficient manner. He's shooting just about 53% from the field, and a ridiculous 60% from behind the arc. Kobe is scoring more, but Dirk is getting it in a much more team-friendly way. Advantage Dirk.
Getting Others Involved:
Neither one of these players is particularly adept at getting their teammates involved, so we'll look at their assist/turnover ratio. So far in this series, Kobe's ratio is 3/4, which is not very good. While Dirk's ratio is 5/2, which is above average. Kobe plays shooting guard and has the ball in his hands a lot more often than Dirk, so the turnovers are understandable, but at the same time, his assists need to be higher. Going throughout an entire game without recording a single assist for someone who has the ball as much as Kobe and draws as much attention as he does in inexcusable. Advantage Dirk.
Kobe has had the much easier assignment this series, matching up with DeShawn Stevenson, while Dirk has to play against Pau Gasol. Kobe has a much better reputation as a defender than Dirk, but you can argue that Dirk is actually playing better. DeShawn Stevenson isn't playing out of his mind, but he is playing above expectations. While Gasol, on the other hand, is having the kind of series that is making people question his toughness again. Advantage Dirk.
I don't really have to level this judgment, do I? Dirk has one over Kobe, at least in my opinion, in almost every regard. But like I said up top, the most important thing that he has over Kobe is team success, and that is why the Mavericks have a 2-0 lead over the Lakers.