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Is Kobe shooting too much?

Hello World!

Has Kobe taken his new found ‘freedom’ in Mike Brown’s offense too far?

Through nine games could he possibly be shooting the ball too much?

We’ll let you be the judge of that.  But taking a closer look at the numbers they tell an interesting story all their own.

In nine games Bryant is averaging 23.1 shot attempts per contests, which is good for tops in the league – close friend Carmelo Anthony comes in a distant second with 21.0 field goal attempts per game.

He has also taken an average of just over nine more shots than teammate Andrew Bynum (14.0) and roughly 11 more per game than big man Pau Gasol (12.2).

The Lakers left Friday night with a 5-4 early season record after besting Monta’s Warriors 97-90 behind, you guessed it, Kobe Bryant and his game-high 39 points.

A game that saw Bryant, the rejuvenated 16-year vet, take over as only he could with some much-needed scoring in the second half of play.

However, after watching Bryant’s offensive exploits through the first part of this season it’s hard not to sincerely question his growing bulk of shot attempts considering the superior frontcourt tandem the Lakers boast on a nightly basis.

Bryant has taken a whopping 27.3 shot attempts over the Lakers’ last four contests.  In those four games the Lakers are an even 2-2.  In a 99-90 loss on the road to the youthful Denver Nuggets back on Sunday, January 1st, Bryant jacked up 28 shots only connecting on six from the floor.

That effort was one of his poorest to date in an illustrious 15-year NBA career, however the 22 missed field goals against Denver didn’t stop Kobe from firing.  The following Tuesday, the 3rd of January, in a much-needed 108-99 victory over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center Bryant was able to bounce back brilliantly to post 37 big points on 14-of-29 shooting.

But does Kobe need to be shooting as much as he has been over the first nine games for the Lakers to be successful this season?

Should the ball be going inside to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum more in the post?

Since returning from suspension Andrew Bynum has literally steam-rolled his way through the League averaging 19.6 points, a very Dwight Howard-like 15.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game on an extremely efficient 57.1% shooting from the floor.

Frequently beating his man down the court in transition, Bynum has buried smaller, much weaker defenders under the hoop for deep post position and easy buckets.

Gasol, although not nearly the dominant force Bynum has been this season, has still consistently come to play putting in a very respectable 17.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks on 57.1% shooting.

But as mentioned above, arguably the most-talented power-forward/center combo in the League is getting an average of just 26.2 shots per game.

That’s 26 shots to Kobe’s 23.

The numbers just don’t add up.

Besides the obvious reasons, here’s why.

The bulk of King Kobe’s attempts this early season have come by way of isolation sets.  Or in a less politically correct sense; via one-on-one basketball.

Looking at the numbers Kobe has isolated his man an incredible 36.2% of the time this year, which is good, again, for tops in the Association.

For good measure Portland’s Jamal Crawford (31.6%), OKC’s Kevin Durant (30.5%) and New York’s dynamic go-for-yours duo of Carmelo Anthony (30.1%) and Amare Stoudemire (29.6%) round out the Top 5.

So more than a third of Kobe’s offense begins and ends with him.

This wouldn’t nearly be that big a deal if Kobe were making good on these possessions.

However, in 88 total isolation possessions, according to Synergy Sports Technology’s statistical database, Bryant is shooting a mere 31.3% while knocking down just 21-of-67 shots from the floor.

His points-per possession rank at a lowly .739.

Bringing us to the point that it might not be that Kobe is shooting the ball too much necessarily.

But more that Kobe is taking a relatively high number, even for him, of low-percentage shots this season; he is taking too many bad shots out of the Lakers’ offense.  Low-percentage shots that dip even lower considering his already sore right (shooting hand) wrist.

Conversely, the imposing duo of Gasol and Bynum proudly boast a 57% shooting clip in the post.

Pau ranks 7th in the League in post-up points-per-possession at 1.182 and Bynum, not far behind ranking 10th, claims a 1.135 ppp.

Combined, however, the two L.A. towers only average 11.6 shot attempts in the post per game this season…combined.

With all that being said, how do the Lakers get the most out of their star shooting guard and just where is Kobe Bean Bryant more effective offensively?

Surprisingly the answer to that question is when he is on the move.

Kobe loves to have the ball in his hands with the dribble, however the defense can easily just pack it in the paint and wait on him to attack or force a long jumper – which has happened quite often this season.

Kobe running off screens has proven to be his most effective weapon this season in the Lakers’ offense.  Not necessarily the same way Ray Allen is used in the Celtics’ offense, but just enough screen action to get the defense moving and allow one of those aforementioned bigs to pick, roll, spot up or post up weak-side.

When this action presents itself it allows for much easier shot attempts for Bryant and others as the defense has to either switch out onto Kobe or pay attention to Gasol, Bynum or whichever Laker big happens to be involved in the particular play.

In these off screen type situations this season Bryant is posting a highly efficient 59.1% shooting clip while tallying 1.261 points per possession.

In standard pick and roll sets, which constitute for 17.3% of his offense, Kobe is also shooting well at 57.1%.

Pointing to the fact that Bryant, not unlike many a backcourt player, is significantly more effective when on the move and then paired with a teammate via a solid screen.

But this is not just about Kobe.  The immediate challenge will be on the shoulders of Lakers’ Head Coach Mike Brown to try and reel Kobe’s utlra-aggressiveness in as the season progresses.

Brown needs to preserve his greatest asset and simultaneously learn how to get the most out of his prized star.

Kobe will always go to his one-on-one game if you allow him to simply roam free.  That’s in his blood.  So Brown has to be more creative with the offense.  He won’t be able to get away with just giving the ‘Black Mamba’ more freedom.

It’s just not that easy.

Kobe’s early season numbers may be impressive – 27.8 points, 5.8 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game.

But no one wants to see a Laker team similar to the squad post-Shaq, pre-Pau; one-dimensional.

So it’s your move Mike Brown, because it doesn’t look like Kobe’s going to be able to scale back that seething desire to go at it alone without a little help.

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One Response to "Is Kobe shooting too much?"

  1. […] an earlier piece posted here on Hardwood Canvas just this past week I questioned the necessity of Bryant’s increased shot attempts based on the Lakers plethora of top-notch bigs (It’s a quality read, I […]

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