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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Kobe Bryant's Shot Selection Endlessly Fascinates Self-Proclaimed Experts

On January 1, Kobe Bryant had his worst shooting game (.214 field goal percentage) in nearly two years. Considering all of the obvious extenuating factors--Bryant is a 33 year old, 16 year veteran playing in his third game in four nights while trying to figure out how to deal with a torn ligament in his right (shooting) wrist--the natural response to Bryant's performance would be to note that it is an aberration and to assume that, unless the wrist injury worsens, Bryant will continue to perform at a high level (he has made the All-NBA First Team and finished in the top five in MVP voting in each of the past six seasons, the longest such active dual streak). Instead, we witnessed a media response that brought to mind what I wrote in an article titled Kobe Bryant's Missed Shots and the Torrent of "Psycho-Basketball Analysis" That They Unleashed:

"Kobe Bryant's shot selection is subject to a play by play microscopic evaluation that I have never seen applied to any other player of his status; literally every time he shoots--or doesn't shoot--someone questions his judgment and motivations, alternately suggesting that he is either forcing the issue or else playing too passively in order to allegedly make some kind of point. All great scorers are expected to shoot the ball 20-plus times a game and shots that would rightly be termed 'forced' if someone else took them are not forces if they are shots that the great player has a reasonable chance of making or if the shot clock is winding down and there are no other good options left."

In his first game after the much discussed January 1 debacle, Bryant scored 37 points on 14-29 field goal shooting (.483) while also contributing eight rebounds and six assists as his L.A. Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets 108-99--yes, the same Houston Rockets who purportedly use "advanced basketball statistics" to create a competitive advantage defensively against Bryant, a laughable claim that has been debunked on many occasions, most spectacularly in the 2009 regular season when the Lakers swept the Rockets 4-0 as Bryant averaged 28.3 ppg while shooting .533 from the field.

It generally is considered a logical basketball strategy for the best player on the team to take the most shots but many media members apparently struggle either to grasp this concept or to figure out who in fact is the best player on the Lakers. Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry have some kind of mental fetish that compels them to repeatedly insist that the Lakers are better off when Bryant shoots less frequently, a contention that I refuted thusly:

"Rather than focusing on how many field goals Bryant attempts to try to determine his optimal role for the Lakers, it makes more sense to look at the end result of his field goal attempts (and free throw attempts): Bryant has scored 40 or more points in 96 regular season games, third on the all-time career list behind Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers posted a 65-31 record in those games, a .677 winning percentage that is better than their overall winning percentage (.656) during Bryant's career. Bryant had 27 of those 40 point games in 2005-06, when he led the NBA in scoring with a 35.4 ppg average that ranks eighth on the single season scoring list; the Lakers went 45-37 overall that year (.549) but they went 18-9 (.667) in his 40 point games. Bryant 'only' had four 40 point games in the 2008-09 season and the Lakers went 2-2 in those contests; obviously, that is a small sample size, but Bryant had 27 games this season in which he scored at least 30 points and the Lakers went 21-6 (.778) in those games, which is virtually identical with their overall winning percentage (.793) this season."

I wrote that passage in 2009; the updated numbers--as of January 4, 2012--show that the Lakers are 73-34 (.682) in the regular season when Bryant scores at least 40 points, which is equivalent to 56 wins in an 82 game season.

Instead of listening to Wilbon provide unsolicited advice to a player who has won five championships, educated basketball fans are still waiting for him to ask LeBron James about James' phantom elbow injury during the 2010 playoffs (that topic never came up during ESPN's one hour "Decision" debacle, an oversight that Scott Raab rightly pilloried). It is also worth remembering that, as I emphasized in a December 2009 article, "Bryant does not miss games due to non-serious--or even some serious--injuries" but in the 2007-08 season "LeBron James missed five games because of a left index finger sprain (I am not questioning James' toughness at all, but merely pointing out that Bryant's toughness/pain threshold/will to win are off the charts even in comparison to other tough minded, elite athletes)." Bryant has mentioned that he plays through injuries even though this may hurt his personal statistics because he believes that he can always help his team win games; only James knows if he sat out because of his pain threshold or because he thought that he could not help the team or because he thought that playing with that finger sprain would have impacted his personal statistics. The difference between the way that Bryant handles injuries and the way that James handles injuries provides yet another perspective on the "great debate" regarding who is the better all-around player; while there is no question that James' youth and athleticism have enabled him to surpass Bryant in terms of regular season productivity since late in the 2009 season, Bryant's determination to fight through injuries and his ability to dissect elite defenses in the postseason have enabled Bryant to make three straight Finals appearances and win two championships since James entered the league (in addition to the three championships Bryant won in four Finals appearances between 2000 and 2004), while James has won just two out of 10 games in his two trips to the NBA Finals.

It should be obvious that Bryant's statistics have been negatively impacted because he played with--at various times and in various combinations--a broken index finger on his shooting hand, an avulsion fracture in his right pinkie finger, a gimpy right knee and a chronically injured left ankle. However, Bryant's overall productivity and his championship pedigree should give him a little leeway to have one awful shooting night every two years while playing his third game in four nights with an injury that would likely send most players in the league to the bench for weeks.

Bryant simply will not receive such leeway from the media; instead, we will hear that the smart thing for the Lakers to do is build their entire offense around an injury-prone big man (Andrew Bynum) who still is not in good enough shape to run up and down the court without losing his breath and who--in the victory against Houston--authored the first 20-20 game of his professional career (Dwight Howard, who entered the NBA one year before Bynum, has posted 33 such games, while DeJuan Blair and Chris Wilcox each have posted two such games). Before the Lakers phase out Bryant and restructure their entire offense around Bynum wouldn't it make some sense to see (1) if Bynum can actually get into (and stay in) shape, (2) if Bynum can avoid getting hurt (in the past four seasons he has played in just 204 out of a possible 328 games) and (3) if Bynum can consistently perform like an All-Star caliber player? Bynum has shown flashes of scoring and rebounding prowess but those flashes have always been followed by him either getting injured or simply not maintaining a high level of performance. The interesting thing about the Houston game is that at times Bynum's body language indicated that he wanted to receive the ball more often than he did yet he did not run hard down the court nor did he consistently fight to establish deep post position (last season, ESPN/ABC commentator Jeff Van Gundy repeatedly blasted Bynum and Pau Gasol for "trotting" instead of "running"); Bynum often wandered around the top of the key in the half court offense and one time when he got an offensive rebound instead of going up strong he passed the ball out to Troy Murphy, who was so surprised at Bynum's passivity that the ball actually bounced off of Murphy's face before Murphy caught it. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol seems intent (or content) to reinvent himself as a midrange jump shooter--he has been allergic to the paint on offense dating back to last season, something that became glaringly apparent during his disastrous 2011 playoff disappearing act. The funny thing is that the one Laker who most consistently and aggressively fights to establish low post position is the team's 33 year old shooting guard, the guy who so many "experts" think should be shooting less and deferring more.

Lakers' Coach Mike Brown has responded very sensibly to the media-created controversy regarding Bryant's shot attempts (which of course means that the media will soon be revisiting the tired nonsense about Brown not being a good coach): "He's got five championship rings. Bynum and Gasol have maybe one or two. So I'm going to go with the man who has five...He's been there and done that so I'm going to give him some freedom. Am I concerned about it at this point? No. Two months from now, if he's shooting 34% from the field, OK, I'm going to have a lot of concerns."

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:52 AM

18 comments

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18 Comments:

At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 1:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't Kobe have at least fed the post more given his poor shooting that night? Bynum and Gasol were also relatively efficient that night. Many of Kobe's shots were shots that Kobe usually knocks down, but on a cold night, I feel as if the logical thing to do would be to defer to his teammates.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 2:11:00 PM, Anonymous weak sauce said...

David,

I agree with a lot of what you say here. However, there are some things I'd like to point out. Kobe played very differently in the game against the Rockets; he got the ball much more in his "sweet spots" (as Mike Brown would call it). Posting up just below the elbow, getting his shots off the ball - it was much more effective than launching isolated long 2s and 3s as he did more than a few times in Denver (which lead to fast break points on the long rebounds). I agree that he should still get his shots; but as you said yourself, he is getting older. Therefore, I feel that he should be getting his shots within the context of the offense.

Also, I don't know if everyone wants the Lakers to completely structure their offense around Bynum. Rather, I think the general consensus is that the Lakers should have a little more balance to their offense; it's a little much for Kobe to have more shot attempts than Gasol/Bynum combined. I mean, if Bynum is doing so well in these first 3 games, why not see if he can keep it up with more touches? If he can't, then we're back to the status quo, which is Kobe having more touches.

Regarding Bynum: I think you're being a bit unfair to him. In the first half, he was running hard to establish deep post position early in the shot clock (as per Mike Brown's offense) yet did not receive the ball. In terms of him wandering at the top of the key, Bynum himself stated that he, like the rest of the team, is still learning the offense, which is a drastic change from the triangle. In Brown's offense, the big is often at the top of the key early in the shot clock. I just think it's him still being unfamiliar with the offense rather than being flat out passive or unfocused. Also, his pass out to Murphy could also be construed as simply setting up the offense after an offensive rebound, can it not? Sure, if he caught the rebound near the basket, I'd like for him to try and score, but he was 10 to 15 feet away when he got the board, a perfectly reasonable distance away from the basket to pass out and have the offense initiated from the top again.

Thanks for your work. I truly enjoy reading something different than the, to use your word, "sycophants," at ESPN.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 2:49:00 PM, Anonymous JackF said...

David,
I disagree with you on this front. Kobe has a bum wrist and he took it upon himself to take 28 shots. If you cant see that he cost his team the game then i dont know. Media didn't create the controversy, kobe did. Both Bynum and Gasol were shooting the ball more efficiently yet kobe kept shooting.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 4:19:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

If Bynum and Gasol want to receive the ball in the post then they need to post up aggressively early in the shot clock so that there is sufficient time to make a good post feed. Bynum and Gasol both tend to take their time getting down court (as Jeff Van Gundy observed last season) and Gasol now acts as if he is allergic to the paint on offense. When the Lakers' offense breaks down, Bryant frequently has to take long jumpers with the shot clock dying (I call these hand grenade shots, because the ball ends up in his hands with the shot clock about to explode).

Playing his third game in four nights--and still adjusting to an injury that most players would not even try to play through--Bryant had his worst shooting game in almost two years. As Coach Brown correctly said, if Bryant is shooting 34% by the end of the year then there is a problem. It is ridiculous to overreact to one bad shooting game and then act as if Bryant has forgotten how to play the game correctly.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 4:25:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

I just said something about nearly the same stuff you're talking about in this article today to my friends, this is great.

Kobe is clearly less explosive than he was 4-5 years ago, but I don't really see much a dropoff yet. His shot selection needs to improve a little, but not much. It's just funny how the media treats him. There's been some other horrid shooting games lately, and we probably won't hear much about them, such as Durant going 8-26, rose going 8-22, johnson going 3-17, martin 5-17, probably a few others. And dirk was 9-27 in game 6 last year, with another bad game or 2 in the finals, and you just don't hear him getting bashed about it, not like Kobe anyway. I find it utterly ridiculous, and am also continually perplexed how so many of these reporters still have jobs. Jon Barry is actually one of the worst analysts out there. I'm not much of a Mchale fan, but he was a good analyst for NBATV, though I only get to watch that channel occasionally, unfortunately.

The thing I always look at it, and I remember Phil saying this to Kobe in a huddle or in an interview once, is to stay aggressive. Be aggressive. Kobe might be missing some shots and taking a few bad shots, but if he's aggressive, regardless if he's scoring or not, the team is in much better shape. Pau isn't be aggressive. I think Bynum is mostly, but not the entire time, and he's so immature, if he lets less touches affect him, probably not a good thing. He's not in great shape, getting easily winded, but he's getting lots of touches. If bynum/pau were as aggressive as kobe was, they'd get more shots, naturally. Pau is playing ok, but he looks really soft out there right now. I wouldn't say he has bad hands, but he's bobbling lots of balls, and letting defenders swipe the ball away from him so often, this early in the season, it's annoying. Be strong with the ball, Pau.

I disagree with one thing, you said, and that's when bynum passed to murphy after an off. rebound. Bynum wasn't that close to the basket, and there were 2 defenders near him. You're right though that he needs to be more aggressive, even with him averaging 23/17 through 3 games. It's only 3 games, come on media. That's the most hilarious thing about all of this. It's only 3 games. Doesn't anyone know Bynum's track record. I think the media, after a long lockout, just want to see the kobe and the lakers implode. Kobe won't let that happen. And Mike Brown looks like a great coach, even with the lakers only at 4-3. The defense is already stellar, and the offense will improve, if their big 3 stay reasonably healthy.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 4:26:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Weak Sauce:

Coach Brown watched the game film of the Denver game with Bryant and said that by and large he is OK with Bryant's shot selection. Do you believe that you have a better understanding of Coach Brown's offense than he does?

I don't know that "everyone" wants the Lakers to focus their offense around Bynum but I do know that a lot of people have been spouting such nonsense for years, including "stat guru" Dave Berri (who actually suggested several years ago that Bynum was already better than Bryant).

Bynum is often the last player down the court on offense. He simply does not run the court hard, either because he is out of shape or because he is lazy. Jeff Van Gundy commented about this repeatedly last season (when Bynum was presumably in shape, though I am not sure that I understand how missing four games due to suspension caused Bynum to get out of shape). If Bynum's role on offense is to stay at the top of the key then he should not be frustrated that he did not get the ball in the post; if his role is to go to the post and he failed to do so then he should not be frustrated that he did not get the ball in the post. News flash: you have to actually go to the post and establish good position to actually get the ball in the post. Also, how many times did Bynum have the ball in the post--either as a result of a post feed or after getting an offensive rebound--only to either turn the ball over or else shoot a shot going away from the basket?

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 4:32:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jack F:

The media certainly has created this so-called controversy and you can bet that the media will fuel this so-called controversy for as long as possible. Bryant had one bad shooting game while playing in his third game in four nights. Is the media similarly dissecting every bad shooting game by other All-NBA First Team players? Is the media proposing that other All-NBA First Team players should defer to an immature, injury-prone and unproven teammate?

Bynum and Gasol shoot high percentages in no small part because of the defensive attention that Bryant attracts (Gasol's shooting percentage as a Laker is better than his shooting percentage as a Grizzly). The amount of touches and shots that a player should get is not directly linked to his shooting percentage; otherwise, Tyson Chandler should be getting 30 field goal attempts a game based on his field goal percentage last season. Field goal attempts are based on a player's skill set, the defensive coverage and his role on the team. Bryant is the only Laker who can consistently create a shot for himself and create a shot for a teammate, though Coach Brown is focusing the second unit offense around Metta World Peace's ability to create shots against bench players.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 4:43:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

This truncated, compacted season is going to produce a lot of bad shooting games by various players but there is no doubt that more attention will be paid to Bryant's shooting than to the shooting of other All-NBA players.

Jon Barry is a shockingly poor analyst considering his pedigree (long NBA career, plus a father who is an all-time great).

You are right that aggressiveness is the key. Bryant aggressively creates the shots that he is taking and he also aggressively creates shots for Bynum, Gasol and other Lakers. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Gasol has become even more passive than usual and Bynum is not in good enough shape to play hard all of the time. Also, if Bynum wants to shoot the ball 20 times a game then he needs to not only run to the post but also to establish good position, culminating in providing a target hand with which to receive the ball. The NBA shot clock is only 24 seconds, so if he does not arrive in the post until 15 seconds have elapsed and then it takes him five seconds to establish position it is too late to throw him the ball. A long Bryant jumper with less than five seconds left on the shot clock may "look" bad to someone who is uninformed but the mere fact that Bynum was stationed in the post at that point does not mean that Bynum effectively established post position early enough to receive the ball.

I am not holding my breath waiting for Mike Wilbon, J.A. Adande or the L.A. beat writers to understand any of this. If Coach Brown had Coach Popovich's personality then the pre and post game press conferences would be really interesting, because Popovich does not hesitate to call out people who ask stupid questions and Coach Brown has been receiving a steady diet of stupid questions recently. How come no one asks LeBron James to run Miami's offense through Chris Bosh in the post? Bosh is a more decorated player than Bynum or Gasol (more All-NBA appearances, more All-Star appearances, more MVP votes) and yet the Heat almost never try to establish Bosh in the post. Contrary to popular belief, Bosh does have a back to the basket game and he did use it effectively in Toronto. How come no one suggests that Kevin Durant should defer to Kendrick Perkins or Serge Ibaka?

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 9:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I saw, both Bynum and Gasol were running, not trotting, up the court for most of the game. I remember several sequences in the first half where Bynum set up in the post rather aggressively and still was not fed the ball. I'm a huge fan of Kobe but I think he needs to find a better balance between shooting the ball himself and feeding it into the post. To be honest, I don't think Kobe will produce many stat lines similar to this one this season.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 11:04:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I would suggest that you watch the entire game more carefully next time and then perhaps you will notice that Bynum and Gasol often trot and that Gasol has developed a strange aversion to playing in the paint.

Bryant's career averages are 25.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 4.7 apg while shooting .454 from the field; his numbers last season were all right around those marks and his numbers this season are close to those marks (except for field goal percentage, which is skewed downward by his worst shooting game in nearly two years). Bryant's performance against Houston was thus somewhat above average for Bryant but not so exceptional that we should believe he won't reach those marks again this season--but it is much less likely that he will have another 6-28 game. This is what is called actually using statistics properly and understanding sample sizes, as opposed to cherry picking numbers to support one's personal beliefs.

 
At Wednesday, January 04, 2012 11:50:00 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

This stuff from the media is laughable, David. Bynum kills offensive flow because he doesn't know the meaning of kick-out (he has 1 assist and 9 turnovers for goodness sake). The defense suffers from his inability to defend anywhere away from the rim adequately, yet he's now 'the Lakers best player.' Didn't we go through this same foolishness with Pau last year at the start of the season? How did that turn out? Bynum has been spoon-fed the ball facing single coverage by a player that actually sees triple teams, yet he's the teams best player, now? Give me a break!

Bynum’s game doesn’t open up the floor for teammates like legitimate, dominant bigs(Howard with all his overstated flaws) does; in fact, it does the opposite, he clogs the paint and everyone has been turned into a jumpshooter. Artest was playing extremely well offensively before his return, Pau’s game had more variety, Kobe had driving lanes and the slashing Ebanks was a starter; now Artest looks lost again Pau is the worlds largest stand still small forward, Kobe’s a jumpshooter primarily and Ebanks has been replaced with the steadier shooting Barnes and suddenly we see that the triangle wasn’t the problem. I guess we know why Phil wasn’t buying in on this kid. Pretty stats though, maybe this living legend will get that first all-star invite!

I love the fact that Bryant is clearly saying with his play that he won't change his game for lunatic fans, mediots, or the immature whiner Bynum.

 
At Thursday, January 05, 2012 12:06:00 AM, Anonymous boyer said...

Oh, I see Abbott is finally gotten around to ripping Kobe for his supposed non-clutch play in the christmas day, not that it means anything, but it's been 10 days already, let it go.

I never thought about that concerning Bosh. I guess I haven't really seen him play that much, so I didn't really know he posted much. He naturally would have to some, but regardless, the offense in toronto would still have to go through him first. Ironic, well not really with all the sloppy writers today, that nobody has ever said, at least I've never heard, that the heat should run their offense through bosh, and bosh is clearly the more decorated player than pau or bynum, and still in the middle of his prime.

Kobe's the fallout or bailout guy when the shot clock is winding down, so he often gets the blame for those missed shots. Pau or bynum aren't likely to create much of a shot, if any, if they receive the ball with 5 sec. or left, and have to start their moves.

I've definitely noticed Pau trotting almost every time, not wanting to be in the paint at all, and continually bobbling the ball, and allowing smaller players easily take the ball away from him. I don't understand this.

Mike Brown can finally coach the way he wants, though he probably has more pressure in l.a. than in clev., obviously. But, he can call out Kobe, and not risk losing his job, like with lebron in clev. He's got his bigs now, and has to momentarily be content with their play, but more effort and aggressiveness is needed.

 
At Thursday, January 05, 2012 6:04:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Rob:

I don't think that Bynum's impact is quite as negative as you suggest but some of the things you brought up are valid concerns (specifically, Bynum's ineffective passing and his lack of mobility at times defensively).

Phil Jackson used to always say that the main things he expected from Bynum were rebounding and defense. Jackson made it clear that Bryant was the first option on offense, Gasol was the second option and everyone else (Odom, Bynum, etc.) had to fall in line after that.

Coach Brown comes from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, so the Lakers no longer run the Triangle and, ideally, they would like to establish Bynum as a low post scorer (a la Duncan) and Gasol as a high post threat (a la Robinson). Of course, the three differences are that Bynum is not Duncan, Gasol is not Robinson and Bryant--even with the high mileage on his odometer--is much better than any perimeter player Popovich has ever had. Assuming that Bynum can stay healthy long enough to actually be a regular member of the rotation the Lakers will try to establish him as a bona fide low post threat but Bryant will still be the team's leading scorer and best all-around player.

 
At Thursday, January 05, 2012 6:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

Abbott is on a mission to trash Bryant, apparently not realizing that all he is doing is destroying whatever little credibility he has left; I had the misfortune of reading his latest piece of garbage in which he says that he asked an NBA executive about Kobe Bryant as a clutch player but then he ignored what the executive told him. I always thought that the point of interviewing people who are authorities in their fields is to learn something and then to communicate what you learned to your readers; apparently Abbott--and ESPN--have vastly different ideas about journalism than I do.

I am not saying that the Heat should run their offense through Bosh but my point is that anyone who says that the Lakers should run their offense through Bynum and/or Gasol is being hypocritical if he is not saying that the Heat should run their offense through Bosh--and since I have heard/read many people touting Bynum/Gasol but few if any people touting Bosh I have to conclude that there are a lot of hypocrites masquerading as basketball experts.

I wonder if James and Wade will ever figure out that one way to beat the simple zone defenses that always confound them is to pass the ball to Bosh at the foul line area to collapse the zone? Instead, James or Wade--whoever has the ball--simply fires long range bricks over the zone. James and Wade are two of the five or six best players in the NBA yet they have neither developed an effective midrange or long range game nor have they figured out that to beat a zone you have to penetrate it with a pass (if you don't have long range shooters who can overextend the zone).

If ESPN had not gone all-in on promoting the Heat (with the "Decision" show, the "Heat Index," etc.) maybe one of their so-called experts would dare to say what I just said. Instead, ESPN endlessly nitpicks every shot that Bryant takes or doesn't take.

Mike Brown has done an excellent job with the Lakers' defense but no one should be surprised by that; he is a very good coach and he is a tremendous defensive coach.

 
At Thursday, January 05, 2012 10:42:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

David, are you listening to Barkley tonight? He just said that Bosh is not an inside player. Why is he doing the game? I have a hard knowing what barkley is saying is relevant or not. Sometimes he says some good stuff, but then sometimes he has doesn't have a clue. Bosh does seem to linger out of the paint some, but that's what he's relegated to doing now. It doesn't seem like he's getting many touches tonight even with lebron/wade out.

But, barkley said several times that the heat need to play fast because wade/lebron aren't good outside shooters. The heat sure play hard and look good, even without lebron/wade. But, it's only 1 reg. season game.

 
At Friday, January 06, 2012 3:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always spot on.Rare objective analysis on Bryant.
As a side note we saw what happens to Bynum with the second unit.Props to Blazers though they are athletic and talented.
Nimble.

 
At Friday, January 06, 2012 5:51:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

Like Gasol, Bosh prefers to face up--but, like Gasol, Bosh is also very capable of playing in the post either with his back to the basket or by catching and then pivoting to face his defender; Bosh utilized a variety of such moves in Thursday's triple OT win but when James and Wade are on the court Bosh is largely relegated to playing on the weak side and waiting for crumbs. As I said last season, James and Wade transformed Bosh from an All-NBA caliber player into Horace Grant (who was a very good player but not a perennial 20-10 guy like Bosh has been).

Isn't it interesting that James plays better without Wade (we saw that in the previous game) and that Bosh plays better without James and Wade? Great players are supposed to make the game easier for other players but that does not seem to be the case for Miami. On the other hand, we have seen a parade of Lakers who played better alongside Kobe than they did before and/or after playing with Kobe (Odom, Ariza, Radmanovic, Farmar, Vujacic, Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, etc.). Wade, Bosh, Larry Hughes and Antawn Jamison are just four All-Stars/high quality players whose individual productivity was worse when playing alongside James than it had been previously.

 
At Friday, January 06, 2012 5:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

Bynum had a solid game against Portland--he was great in the first half but he faded in the second half because fatigue set in and he also did not react well to being trapped after the first dribble. Bynum is talented and big but he has yet to prove that he can stay healthy and be consistently productive. He should of course receive the ball in the post when he runs the floor and establishes good post position early in the shot clock but the time has not yet come to make him the focal point of the offense, contrary to the storyline that so many media members are touting.

 

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