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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Bryant Posts Second Consecutive 40 Point, 10 Assist Stat Line

Just in case anyone thought that it was a fluke when Kobe Bryant posted a 40 point, 10 assist stat line, on Friday night Bryant accomplished the feat for the second consecutive game; his L.A. Lakers needed every one of his 41 points and 12 assists to sneak by the Toronto Raptors 118-116 in overtime. Bryant is the first Laker since Jerry West in 1970 to have back to back 40 point, 10 assist games. Larry Bird is still the oldest player (35) to have a 40 point, 10 assist game but Bryant is now the oldest player (34) to do it twice. Since the 1985-86 season, Allen Iverson has the most 40 point, 10 assist games (12), followed by LeBron James (eight), Michael Jordan (seven), Larry Bird (six), Kobe Bryant (five), Dwyane Wade (five) and Michael Adams (five).

Bryant is having an MVP-caliber season but Kobe Bryant is to the NBA regular season MVP award what Mario Andretti was to the Indy 500; Andretti could have and should have won several Indy 500s but he only won the 1969 edition--and he accomplished that in his backup car, while he later failed to win the 1987 Indy 500 after dominating the track for the entire month during qualifying and lapping the entire field on race day before an inexpensive part broke with just 20 laps to go. Similarly, Bryant was the best all-around player in the NBA for the better part of the first decade of this century but he won just one MVP award in what was probably the third or fourth best season of his career (2007-08).

If Bryant continues to play at this incredible level, if Dwight Howard controls the paint defensively, if Steve Nash continues to hit the open shots he is getting as a result of Bryant drawing double teams and if the Lakers' role players collectively make any kind of solid contribution (even if this comes from different players on different nights) then the Lakers could be the rare "team nobody wants to face in the playoffs" that actually lives up to that designation. If Pau Gasol returns to health in time to participate in the postseason and if he reverses the way that his game has declined for the past several years then the Lakers could be very dangerous.

Right now, though, the reality is that the Lakers have had an injury ravaged, chemistry deficient season and they are fighting tooth and nail just to qualify for the playoffs.

LeBron James' individual numbers are off the charts and his defending champion Miami Heat are currently riding a 17 game winning streak; he deserves to win the MVP (and he should have won the 2011 MVP as well). James grabbed the best all-around player title from Bryant during the 2008-09 season and has held it ever since; Bryant is not likely to retake that crown unless James gets hurt but it will be interesting to see how productive James is in six years when he is 34. Bryant's superior conditioning and his ability to adjust his game have enabled him to remain dominant even as his athletic ability and stamina have waned.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:33 AM

10 comments

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10 Comments:

At Saturday, March 09, 2013 8:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true that Kobe should have more than one mvp. But as you know there is a criteria taken into consideration. In 2006 and 2007 Kobe was the best player in the NBA, but his teams were lower seeded playoff teams. Winning less than 50 games as sixth and seventh seeds. Yes, those teams would not make playoffs without Bryant, but this shows you being the best player in the league doesn't guarantee mvp. Team record and seeding plays a huge role.

Another reason Bryant only has one mvp is because he was on the team with Shaq. Shaq was the best player on that Laker three peat team. Kobe didn't become the lakers best player until after the third title. When Shaq had the delayed surgery.

LeBron just like Kobe led teams that werent that good to the playoffs. LeBron was the best player in the Nba in 2009 through 2011. In 2009 and 2010 LeBron led the cavs to bacl to back sixty win seasons. Best record in the league. without LeBron those teams wouldve been a one of the league's worst teams. So he deserved mvp.

As for Gasol, if he can come back healthy, fine. Some people probably think he is still the second best player on the team. Howard is clearly better. Howard when fully healthy has proven himself as a franchise player. Pau at no point in his career has been one. Since coming to la in a way hes been hyped up as one. He was just a great second option for Kobe, but seems now he can no longer fill that role. Lakers were fortunate to trade for Dwight.

 
At Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:43:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I know all about the politics and the illogical thinking that affect MVP voting but I have consistently maintained that the MVP should go to the best all-around player in the league regardless of other factors/criteria, with the only exception being the presence of a dominant big man who is not an all-around player but has tremendous impact. In other words, both Shaq and Kobe should have won more MVPs than they did.

If the Lakers could swap Gasol for a young, athletic wing that would be ideal but obviously the trade deadline has passed and Gasol's value has declined a lot. For at least two years I said that the Lakers should be willing to part with Bynum and Gasol if that would be necessary to acquire Howard and look what has happened this season: Bynum is, quite predictably, out of action due to injury, Gasol looked like a declining player before he got hurt and Howard at less than 100% is still the best center in the league. It is likely that once Howard returns to full strength in the offseason he will be healthy for the next decade, while Bynum has always had injury problems and Gasol is on the down side of his career.

 
At Sunday, March 10, 2013 3:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think sometimes you have to consider record and seeding for mvp. I don't think the hands down best player has to always get the aratd every year. There will be other worthy candidates.

Can you imagine a player being considered the best in the league for five straight years and his team didn't make playoffs. You cant really say he deserved mvp. Even though somethings may not be in that players control. So sometimes you have to factor in other criteria.

Michael Jordan is considered by many as the goat player. If he retired ringless is he still considered goat? I dont think so.Very few people would probably still considered him as the best ever. They say he was still individually better than anyone else to ever play. But if he retired ringless his legacy is obviously different teguardless how good he was as an individual player. right now today he isnt this iconic.legend. He'd be just another player on the all time great list criticized because he never won a title along with Barkley, Malone, Ewing, Wilkins, Iverson ect.
And players dont get judged by how great they were as individuals alone, titles are factored in.

You can say Kobe should have more than one mvp

Shaq also. But as I stated before Shaq has to shoulder a lot of the blame also for only winning one mvp. I think the guy could have won 5-7 mvps to be honest. He was the most dominant player for a long time. And his peak is probably the best ever.

You're right la should trade Gasol and his value is down. So it will be hard to trade him for a young atheletic wing with his contract this offseason.

And you're right

 
At Sunday, March 10, 2013 7:05:00 AM, Anonymous CR said...

It just seems like the problem with properly handing out the MVP is the name of the award itself. The word "valuable" is broad. As anyone who ever collected baseball cards as a kid can tell you, a number of different factors go into determining a card's value beyond the quality of the object itself.

I think the word just confuses the writers who vote on the award and it might be an easier decision if the NBA just named it "Player of the Year" or "Most Outstanding Player."

 
At Sunday, March 10, 2013 8:09:00 AM, Anonymous CR said...

You have to be a tremendous athlete to make the type of three pointers that Kobe made at the end of this game. Brought back memories of a game against Portland in 2003(?) when he hit two acrobatic buzzer beating three pointers against Portland to win the division for the Lakers.

 
At Monday, March 11, 2013 5:28:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

CR:

I think that Rick Barry once suggested that the NBA should hand out two awards: A Most Outstanding Player award for the best player and a Most Valuable Player award for the best player on the best team.

I still believe that the MVP should go to the best all-around player unless there is a very dominant big man; the best all-around player is capable of taking a mediocre team to the playoffs and is capable of leading a contending team to a championship and he should not be rewarded (or punished) based on the relative abilities of his teammates.

 
At Monday, March 11, 2013 5:37:00 AM, Anonymous Alfharidi said...

I think it somehow goes both ways a far as Shaq and Kobe winning only one MVP. By 2001 Kobe was already elite and MVP-worthy (he ended up 5th-6th in the MVP rankings I think), and it affected Shaq's MVP chances too (two top-players as compared to Tim Duncan leading the Spurs as the lone alpha dog).

At the same time, while i definitely agree that in principle Kobe should have won at least 3 MVPs, looking at his career (and considering the "illogical thinking that affects MVP voting", as you put it) the fact that Kobe won one is already something.
After Colorado, not only the perception of Kobe went south, but also his role within the Lakers team. 2003-04 was a positive yet not MVP season for Kobe. Not to speak of 2004-05 (when, until the injury, the Lakers were playoffs bound and Kobe was putting up some 29-7-7) but then obviouly the season ended up being a failure. In other words, Kobe almost lost two seasons of his prime.

Ultimately, as you said several times, MVP is about the best regular season performer. While it is fair to say that Lebron was 2009 MVP, it's also fair to say that overall Kobe was still the best player. I hold to the opinion that, until february-march 2010 (finger/ankle/knee injury) Kobe was still the best player in the league (before injury: 30ppg, 49% FG, 6 game winning shots etc.). 2009 Kobe was still prime-time Kobe, and it showed in the playoffs.
As far as Lebron James, even though he's been the best regular season performer since 2009, he truly became the best player in the league after Kobe's injuries (namely knee surgery in summer 2010)forced him to significantly reduced minutes (and bone-on-bone knee). Frankly, while recognizing Lebron's great talent, I strongly doubted his winning attitude: 2011 Finals were shocking in this regard. Only last season Lebron put together something to go along with MVP accolades (without which such accolades are almost meaningless) - playoff dominance and a ring.

Thanks David for the great reads.

 
At Monday, March 11, 2013 5:48:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Alfharidi:

Bryant absolutely should have won the 2006 and 2007 MVPs and then there are at least one or two other seasons for which he should have at least received more MVP consideration than he did. Also, as you indicated, Bryant was playing at an MVP level in 2004-05 before he got hurt.

In my opinion, James surpassed Bryant as a regular season performer late in the 2009 season; the younger, stronger James was able to be productive on a nightly basis in a way that Bryant no longer could do. I agree with you that overall Bryant was still the superior player--as demonstrated in the 2009 and 2010 playoffs--but James deserved the regular season MVP in those seasons because he was a better regular season performer than Bryant at that time. Bryant earned the Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. Last season, James showed that he could dominate elite competition in postseason play and he won his first Finals MVP.

 
At Monday, March 11, 2013 6:29:00 AM, Anonymous Alfharidi said...

I agree, David.
There is also another element to be considered (it is not take anything away from Lebron James great career): for the past 10 years at least, winning 60+ games in the Eastern conference has not been the same thing as winning 60+ games in the more competitive Western Conference. This factor should be accounted for too, I think.

 
At Monday, March 11, 2013 10:43:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

You probably know how much credence I put in raw stats and MVPs, but even with these caveats Kobe is performing at an extremely high level.

Lakers now look like they're odds-on to make the playoffs. Their ability to do damage in the playoffs will depend largely on how well Gasol comes back. If he can provide 25-30 good minutes a game the team suddenly goes from being a thin team to a deep team.

Now that the Lakers are in the playoff picture, they have to play for a seed. The #6 seed is very important because this means they get to avoid San Antonio & Oklahoma City in the first round. And who knows; maybe the Houston/Golden St./Utah will pull off a miracle or San Antonio/Oklahoma City will suffer from a Derrick Rose-type injury.

 

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