Kobe Bryant has managed to conquer every single basketball-related challenge over the course of his 17-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Rings. All-Star Games. Endorsement deals. Giving Sir Richard Branson advice how to be successful. Women ladies (cough). But in order to reach the top of the pyramid of his auto-biographic Kobe system, he has to conquer one more challenge in order to become the same beast and a different animal.
Score under 20 points a game…
OK. So you’re probably thinking “How naive of you to contrive this notion!! This is utterly ridiculous to suggest!!! You expect Kobe to NOT shoot the ball on an injury-riddled Los Angeles Lakers squad? You expect Kobe to NOT rely on his God-given scoring ability and talent to change the course of the Lakers underachieving season?”
Yes, I do.
Now, we can’t solely put the entire blame on Kobe’s production. Truthfully, Kobe is having one of his most efficient seasons scoring-wise of his career. He’s shooting 40% from three, 49% from two-point range, and 88% from the free-throw line. Despite his marvelous scoring production, the Lakers are 1-9 when he scores over 30 points a game , 5-3 when he scores between 20-29, and 3-0 when he scores less than 20. Not to mention, the Lakers are 19th in the league in assists per game, and defensively, nobody is calling Kobe an elite defender anymore. (Not sure who appointed him that). But here is a more alarming trend that most basketball heads tend to overlook.
In Kobe’s career as a Laker, he has NEVER had an elite point guard or another player who can facilitate for him during his entire tenure. Name all the Lakers starting PGs that have came into the league since 1998: Nick Van Exel (solid, but a shoot-first PG), Ron Harper (solid, balanced), Derek Fisher (slow, but solid), Gary Payton (who was old, but probably the best he had talent wise), Smush Parker (gross), and Ramon Sessions.
Kobe is the only constant in that equation, and his ball-handling skills clearly make him the ideal facilitator on those Lakers team. The issue is, he’s a shooting guard, and needs to score to keep defenses honest. And until this point, he’s been forced to score more AND handle the ball more this season. That trend hasn’t t never translate into wins this season (9-12)
The Lakers are clearly more competitive when Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace, and Pau Gasol are shooting more, and when Kobe isn’t shooting AS much. One of the benefits of Steve Nash coming back is that the ball will be distributed more evenly, and Kobe will be forced to play off of the ball. More players will get involved when Nash is in the lineup, but his return is questionable for at least a couple more weeks.
With no immediate fix to the Lakers well documented woes, if Kobe is able to contain his own scoring while getting others involved until Nash comes back, the Lakers will be extremely difficult to beat. We all sound like a broken record when we are telling Kobe to pass the ball or get more teammates involved. A 17-year old broken record at that, but let’s be coy about this entire situation.
The only person that can stop Kobe, is Kobe.
Ask Mike Brown.
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