Is Kobe Bryant Still the Best 1-on-1 Player in the NBA?

Kobe Bryant has for years been considered the best one-on-one player in the NBA. This is with good reason. He has the deepest bag of offensive tricks and he's one of the best on-the-ball defenders in the history of the game. 

When you put all-world offense together with all-world defense, you get an all-world one-on-one player. It's inevitable, though, that he loses the presumptive title of best one on one player in the world. I'm sure even the most ardent Lakers fans would agree that he will no longer be the greatest at 87 (though they might quibble at 86). 

When does that happen, and has it already happened? 

With the understanding that stats are the bane of some people's existence, they are the most objective way we have of measuring things. Whether they tell us what we want or what we don't want, they really don't care. They just say what happened, nothing more.

Now, I'll grant they don't say why things happen, but they do say what happened. 

It's also true that sometimes it's hard to say who is "better" and arguing who is "better" based on who would win a one-on-one matchup is difficult to say. Who would win between Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard? 

Their positions and styles are so different that it's almost impossible to say, and it's also irrelevant. What matters is how they play against the players they play against. 

Synergy sports tracks every play of every game of the NBA season. They also track what type of play there is. The closest play (and there is some difference) to one-on-one play is the isolation play.

The other advantage is that it gives us an idea of how players perform against a host of different kinds of players. Bear in mind that while this is a "one-on-one" within the parameters of a "five-on-five" context, it's really the only context that matters. 

In 1972, Bob Lanier beat Jo Jo White ...

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