First NBA Finals Comparison: Doncic, LeBron, Jordan, Bryant, Curry, And Durant

Comparing the first NBA Finals appearance between Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant.

First NBA Finals Comparison: Doncic, LeBron, Jordan, Bryant, Curry, And Durant

The NBA Finals are the ultimate stage for basketball’s greatest players to showcase their talents, and the first appearance on this grand platform often sets the tone for their legacies. Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant all experienced the immense pressure and spotlight of their first Finals in different ways.

In this article, we will dive into the individual performances of these stars during their debut Finals, comparing their stats across points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, shooting percentages, and the outcome of their series. Who shined the brightest, and who stumbled under the weight of expectations? The answers may surprise you.

Points Per Game (PPG)

1. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): 31.2 PPG (6 Points)

2. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): 30.6 PPG (5 Points)

3. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): 29.2 PPG (4 Points)

4. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): 26.0 PPG (3 Points)

5. LeBron James (2007 Finals): 22.0 PPG (2 Points)

6. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): 15.6 PPG (1 Point)

In their first Finals appearances, scoring prowess was on full display for these superstars. Michael Jordan led the pack with a staggering 31.2 PPG, showcasing his dominance and scoring versatility in the 1991 Finals. Kevin Durant was a close second with 30.6 PPG in 2012, proving his scoring consistency even on the grandest stage. Luka Doncic’s debut was also impressive, posting 29.2 PPG in the 2024 Finals, solidifying his status as a future legend and finished third on this list.

Stephen Curry, known for his sharpshooting, delivered 26.0 PPG in 2015, while LeBron James managed 22.0 PPG in a tough 2007 Finals. Kobe Bryant, still young in his first Finals in 2000, contributed 15.6 PPG, hinting at the greatness to come behind Shaquille O’Neal. However, it was clear Bryant was not ready to take over yet which is why he is below LeBron James.

Rebounds Per Game (RPG)

1. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): 8.8 RPG (6 Points)

2. LeBron James (2007 Finals): 7.0 RPG (5 Points)

3. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): 6.6 RPG (4 Points)

4. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): 6.0 RPG (3 Points)

5. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): 5.2 RPG (2 Points)

6. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): 4.6 RPG (1 Point)

Rebounding is often overlooked, but it plays a critical role in Finals success. Luka Doncic led this category with 8.8 RPG in his first Finals, showcasing his all-around game and hustle. LeBron James followed with 7.0 RPG in 2007, a testament to his physicality and effort on the boards.

Michael Jordan’s 6.6 RPG in 1991 highlighted his ability to impact the game in multiple facets despite being the leading scorer in this comparison. Kevin Durant’s 6.0 RPG in 2012 showed his presence inside, while Stephen Curry’s 5.2 RPG in 2015 demonstrated his underrated rebounding ability. Kobe Bryant’s 4.6 RPG in 2000 rounded out the list, reflecting his focus on scoring and defense during that series along with being a little too young when compared to the other players.

Assists Per Game (APG)

1. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): 11.4 APG (6 Points)

2. LeBron James (2007 Finals): 6.8 APG (5 Points)

3. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): 6.3 APG (4 Points)

4. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): 5.6 APG (3 Points)

5. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): 4.2 APG (2 Points)

6. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): 2.2 APG (1 Point)

Playmaking is essential, and Michael Jordan was the clear leader with 11.4 APG in the 1991 Finals, showcasing his ability to elevate his teammates despite posting over 30 points per game. LeBron James’s 6.8 APG in 2007 highlighted his dual role as a scorer and facilitator despite being inexperienced on this level.

Stephen Curry’s 6.3 APG in 2015 demonstrated his natural point guard skills, balancing scoring and playmaking. Luka Doncic’s 5.6 APG in 2024 showed his all-around game, while Kobe Bryant’s 4.2 APG in 2000 reflected his developing playmaking skills although he was quite effective in doing so. Kevin Durant, primarily a scorer, had 2.2 APG in 2012, focusing on his primary role and had Russell Westbrook handling the ball which is why he finished last.

Steals Per Game (SPG)

1. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): 2.8 SPG (6 Points)

2. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): 2.6 SPG (5 Points)

3. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): 1.8 SPG (4 Points)

4. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): 1.4 SPG (3 Points)

5T. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): 1.0 SPG (2 Points)

5T. LeBron James (2007 Finals): 1.0 SPG (2 Points)

Defensive tenacity was a hallmark for Michael Jordan, leading with 2.8 SPG in the 1991 Finals, yet another proof of how dominant he was on both ends. Luka Doncic’s 2.6 SPG in 2024 showcased his defensive instincts even if his one-on-one defense was often criticized throughout the Finals. Stephen Curry’s 1.8 SPG in 2015 highlighted his ability to disrupt passing lanes and he finishes third on this list.

Kevin Durant’s 1.4 SPG in 2012 demonstrated his defensive versatility, while Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both recorded 1.0 SPG in their respective Finals, showing their commitment to defense but not to the level of the players above them. That had to do with both stars not being in their prime yet.

Blocks Per Game (BPG)

1T. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): 1.4 BPG (6 Points)

1T. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): 1.4 BPG (6 Points)

3. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): 1.0 BPG (5 Points)

4. LeBron James (2007 Finals): 0.5 BPG (4 Points)

5. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): 0.2 BPG (3 Points)

6. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): 0.0 BPG (2 Points)

Defensive presence at the rim was led by Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, both with 1.4 BPG in their first Finals. Kevin Durant’s 1.0 BPG in 2012 highlighted his shot-blocking ability and he finishes third in this comparison. LeBron James had 0.5 BPG in 2007, reflecting his overall defensive efforts and he is a distant fourth behind Durant. Stephen Curry’s 0.2 BPG in 2015 and Luka Doncic’s 0.0 BPG in 2024 indicated their focus on perimeter defense more than blocking shots for obvious reasons.

Shooting Percentages

1. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): FG%: 55.8%, 3P%: 50.0%, FT%: 84.8% (6 Points)

2. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): FG%: 54.8%, 3P%: 39.4%, FT%: 83.9% (5 Points)

3. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): FG%: 44.3%, 3P%: 38.5%, FT%: 88.5% (4 Points)

4. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): FG%: 47.2%, 3P%: 24.4%, FT%: 58.6% (3 Points)

5. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): FG%: 36.7%, 3P%: 20.0%, FT%: 90.9% (2 Points)

6. LeBron James (2007 Finals): FG%: 35.6%, 3P%: 20.0%, FT%: 69.0% (1 Point)

Efficiency is key in the Finals, and Michael Jordan excelled with 55.8% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 84.8% FT in 1991. These numbers are extraordinary because putting up such a high-scoring average (31.2 PPG) so efficiently places him in first place ahead of Kevin Durant who shot a lower percentage from the field across the board.

Stephen Curry’s shooting was not up to his usual standard in the 2015 Finals but he was still very efficient and is right behind Kevin Durant and slightly ahead of Luka Doncic who struggled heavily from three and especially from the free-throw line in the 2024 Finals.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were both inefficient from the field in their first Finals appearances, nailing under 40% from the field and only 20.0% from three. LeBron James was especially poor from the free-throw line which is why he finished in last place in this comparison.

Finals Outcome

1. Michael Jordan (1991 Finals): Won 4-1 against Los Angeles Lakers (6 Points)

2T. Stephen Curry (2015 Finals): Won 4-2 against Cleveland Cavaliers (5 Points)

2T. Kobe Bryant (2000 Finals): Won 4-2 against Indiana Pacers (5 Points)

4T. Kevin Durant (2012 Finals): Lost 1-4 to Miami Heat (4 Points)

4T. LeBron James (2007 Finals): Lost 0-4 to San Antonio Spurs (4 Points)

4T. Luka Doncic (2024 Finals): Lost 1-4 to Boston Celtics (4 Points)

The ultimate measure of success in the Finals is winning. Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls triumphed 4-1 over the Lakers in 1991, marking the start of a dynasty. Jordan also earns an extra point over Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant because he was the only player in this comparison to win the Finals MVP award.

Stephen Curry’s Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 4-2 in 2015, beginning their reign of dominance and he is tied with Kobe Bryant who secured his first championship with a 4-2 victory over the Indiana Pacers in 2000. Andre Iguodala and Shaquille O’Neal were the Finals MVP winners in both of those series.

Kevin Durant, despite his stellar performance, saw his Oklahoma City Thunder fall 1-4 to the Miami Heat in 2012 and he is tied with the last two players in this comparison. LeBron James faced a challenging debut as his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept 0-4 by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. Luka Doncic’s first Finals ended in a 1-4 defeat to the Boston Celtics in 2024, despite his impressive individual numbers.

Who Had The Best First Finals Appearance?

1. Michael Jordan – 40 Points (6 Categories Won)

2. Luka Doncic – 30 Points (1 Category Won)

3. Stephen Curry – 25 Points (0 Categories Won)

4T. Kevin Durant – 23 Points (0 Categories Won)

4T. LeBron James – 23 Points (0 Categories Won)

6. Kobe Bryant – 19 Points (1 Category Won)

Michael Jordan’s inaugural Finals performance in 1991 remains unparalleled among the listed players, showcasing dominance in scoring, playmaking, defense, and efficiency en route to a convincing 4-1 series victory. His ability to lead in points per game (31.2), assists per game (11.4), steals per game (2.8), blocks per game (1.4), and shooting percentages (55.8% FG, 50.0% 3P, 84.8% FT) solidified his legacy as one of the greatest to grace the Finals stage and he wins the overall comparison by a massive margin.

Luka Doncic, despite a loss in his first Finals appearance in 2024, displayed impressive scoring (29.2 PPG) and rebounding (8.8 RPG) skills but he was outmatched against the Boston Celtics which is why he could not earn a Finals victory. He also struggled from the field in terms of efficiency but still finished second. Stephen Curry is third with 25 total points and zero categories won. He played on a dominant Warriors team that also featured Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and held his own against the likes of LeBron James but failing to win Finals MVP knocks him down slightly.

Kevin Durant and LeBron James are equal with 23 total points, each having their advantages, but failing to win an NBA Finals appearance or earn Finals MVPs places them in the same spot. They are still tied for fourth place with zero categories won and it is interesting to notice how Stephen Curry leads them.

In last place, Kobe Bryant had to play second-fiddle to Shaquille O’Neal in his first Finals appearance and finished with only 19 points in the comparison. Bryant was only 21 years old and was entering his prime, unlike the other players who were already at their peak or close to it.

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