In order to analyze this hypothetical matchup, let's take a look at how each player performed last season on various play types that represent pure one-on-one situations using Synergy Sports Technology.
SINGLE-COVERED ISOLATION PLAYS
Single-Covered Isolation Plays
The majority of a one-on-one matchup between two guards would likely be comprised of single-covered isolation plays.
Irving scored the second-most points per play on single-covered isolation plays last season of the 63 players with at least 100 plays, trailing only Chris Paul. Of those same 63 players, Kobe ranked 21st. Irving shot 49 percent, while Bryant shot 38 percent.
On defense, it's a different story.
Defending Single-Covered Isolation Plays
Most Points per Play Allowed Last Season
Of the 99 players to defend at least 75 single-covered isolation plays last season, Kyrie allowed the third-most points per play. Only Steve Blake and Dorell Wright were worse. Of those same 99 players, Bryant ranked 24th. Kyrie allowed opponents to go to the free throw line 15 percent of the time, the sixth-highest percentage, while Kobe only sent opponents to the charity stripe on six percent of those plays, the 10th-lowest percentage.
SINGLE-COVERED POST-UP PLAYS
Irving only had nine single-covered post-up plays last season, but he was very effective on those nine plays, shooting 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) with no turnovers or free throws.
Although a small sample size, Irving's 1.11 points per play on single-covered post-up plays was better than Bryant's 0.94.
Most PPP on Single-Covered Post-Up Plays
Minimum 9 Plays Last Season
Of the 225 players with at least nine single-covered post-up plays last season, Irving scored the sixth-most points per play, while Bryant ranked 53rd.
Kobe’s most effective post-up move is facing up from the right block. Of the 31 players with at least 20 of those plays, Bryant had by far the most points per play (1.46) and highest field-goal percentage (71).
Neither player spent much time defending single-covered post-up plays, but when they did, Kobe was more effective. He held opponents to 28 percent shooting and the ninth-fewest points per play of the 265 players to defend at least 25 single-covered post-up plays.
Of those same 265 players, Kyrie ranked 63rd in points per play allowed. He held opponents to 38 percent shooting. Irving's strength defending those plays was the ability to not commit fouls. His opponents only reached the free throw line on five percent of those plays, the 13th-lowest percentage. Kobe's opponents got to the free throw line 15 percent of the time, which ranked 189th.
JUMPERS OFF THE DRIBBLE
Jumpers off the Dribble
Kobe gets the edge in jumpers off the dribble. He shot 40 percent, which ranked 26th of the 95 players with at least 100 jumpers off the dribble last season, while Irving shot 35.3 percent, which ranked 62nd. In effective field-goal percentage, which factors in 3-pointers as well, it's a little closer. Kobe was 41 percent (ranked 42nd), while Kyrie was 40 percent (52nd).
Kobe held opponents to 33 percent shooting on jumpers off the dribble last season, the 24th-lowest percentage of the 157 players to defend at least 100 jumpers off the dribble. Irving's opponents shot 42.2 percent, which ranked 133rd.