20 Second Timeout is the place to find the best analysis and commentary about the NBA.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Accelerated Growth Curve of LeBron James

LeBron James is a on a fast track to greatness that is unparalleled in NBA history. There have been younger players who led teams to the NBA Finals and there have been players who led teams to the NBA Finals prior to their fourth season but no one who is this young and has only been in the NBA for four years has led a team to the NBA Finals without the benefit of playing alongside at least one future Hall of Famer. Bill Russell won a championship as a rookie, but he played alongside several Hall of Famers; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won a championship in his second season but he had Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson at point guard; Magic Johnson won a championship as a rookie but he teamed up with Abdul-Jabbar, the regular season MVP that year; Larry Bird won a championship in his second season but he was paired with future Hall of Famers Nate Archibald, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

I discuss James' stunningly quick ascent to NBA glory in my newest article for NBCSports.com:

The Accelerated Growth Curve of LeBron James

James has distinguished himself not only with his skills but also with his poise. Consider this telling sequence from Game Six versus the Pistons. Rasheed Wallace committed his sixth foul by throwing James to the floor. James calmly stood up and for a moment the players were right next to each other but looking in different directions—-literally and figuratively. Wallace promptly lost control of his emotions, wildly yelling at the officials and getting ejected, earning his seventh technical foul of the playoffs and ensuring that if Detroit made it to Game Seven that he would be unable to play due to a mandatory suspension. Meanwhile, James assembled his teammates and told them to stay calm and not get caught up in the emotion of the moment. The great tennis champion Bjorn Borg was known for his ability to stay poised during tough matches and to remain calm while volatile opponents like Ilie Nastase and John McEnroe had Rasheed Wallace-like temper tantrums. When I spoke with Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry prior to Game Six, he rejected a James-Borg comparison, telling me that James is "far more vocal and demonstrative than Bjorn Borg." That is true but it is also true that basketball, which has more physical contact than tennis, lends itself more to emotional expression. This season we saw Carmelo Anthony lose his cool and get suspended for 15 games and we saw Amare Stoudemire get suspended for a playoff game because he could not control his emotions. James did not overreact to Wallace’s foul, nor did he lose control in previous playoff games when Antonio McDyess and Mikki Moore committed hard fouls against his teammates. I agree with Ferry that James’ demeanor is not totally emotionless like Borg’s but James has great poise and self-control, both in terms of rallying his team from a 2-0 deficit against the heavily favored Pistons and in terms of not letting himself get caught up in the emotions of hard fouls. By the way, Borg was a prodigy in his own right, one who never lost a match to a younger player until he had been a professional for many years. It does not seem likely that a team led by a superstar who is younger than James will beat Cleveland any time soon, either.

What impresses Hall of Famer Hubie Brown the most about James is how successfully he deals with any kind of defensive pressure that is placed against him, especially considering that, in Brown's opinion, Cleveland's roster is not that much better than it was last year (I spoke with Brown before Daniel Gibson's outstanding Game Six performance): "Their first unit is not that much better than it was a year ago. But what has happened now is this young man has taken his game to a whole new level again, taking that next step. What he has done in Games Three, Four and Five, with the 35 points (per game) and the eight or nine rebounds and then the nine assists, is incredible...You have to give him a lot of credit for not only the scoring but the fact that he is going against three guys: the trap and then the rotating big guy below the trap, five to ten feet behind the trap, ready in case he turns the corner. He’s really playing, on every possession, one against three, whether it is on the side or whether it is at the top."

posted by David Friedman @ 4:54 PM


links to this post


At Wednesday, June 06, 2007 5:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

he has eclipsed all expectations cause he doesnt believe in pressure he just goes out and plays and delivers he is the future and all do respect to ron harper the best in the game he will be an all timme great but he may not win this finals but wilol many to come.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 1:48:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

i still think kobe is the best player slightly but lebron is an amazing player because of the way he plays and his all he is special they lost tonight but the future is very bright around ability he is the best player at that size since magic to me.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 1:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you make me laugh kobe aint messing with lebron right now kobe is on vacation lebron still playing kobe has not beat one team in the playoofs team since shaq left the squad in 04 lebron got 4 series wins.

lebron is better in almost every category than kobe and a better teamate than kobe marcel go ask the former lakers on those championship teams how much they love kobe during the championship runs none of them could stand him look at how lebron took gibson under his wing gave him all the credit in game 6 for makeing those key shots when he was the reason he got the shots kobe aint doing that.

lebron is going to be an all time great player kobe might be but he has to prove he can win a ring without shaq before he can fully be the 3 rings dont mean as much when your the 2 guy rather than the one hes led his team in the dirt where lebron has uplifted his teamates.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 2:59:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

kobe is better than james to me because of longevity he has and he can do a little more better ft scoreing 3 pt defensively etc. but it's not takeing anything`away from james it's just my opion. derek fisher rick fox and robert horry like kobe shaq doesnt and didnt but i dont know about every body else. lebron had a favorable draw compared to kobe with nj and deplted washington wizards team. and true shaq was the leader kobe was big for a team that won 3 rings and should of won 5 though you cant dispute that though shaq was the man but if kobe didnt play they dont wine

At Friday, June 08, 2007 3:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

kobe is a guy who has never shown great leadership he pouts as far as if something doesnt go his way he thrown gm and others under the buss he's never been anything as a teamate his guys is what he calls them marcel stop makeing excuses he's not up to lead a team to the promise land.

lebron has proven he could beating a very good detroit team and in 4 short years leading the cavs from 17 wins to the nba finals no player could understand the pressure this kid was under and he exceeded evrything his rookie year avg 20 5 and 5 should of won rookie of the year and did the youngest to win all star mvp first playoff game triple double youngest 50 points youngest with a triple double most thought he would be a couple years awy from the finals and made it in 4 years no doubt he is the man.

shaq led the lakers without him there like they are now irrelevant ask any player on the kings blazers indiana nj philly etc shaq was the difference not kobe, kobe layed his part but he was not the diffrence like bird magic and jordan were shaq wilt duncan and lebron wiil be kob great career lebro will have a legendary career

At Friday, June 08, 2007 4:10:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You keep saying to ask players from various teams what they think of Kobe, but you are ignoring the fact that I in fact have asked players and coaches from various teams exactly what they think of Kobe and I have quoted them in various posts and articles that can be found on this site. The vast majority of people I have spoken to who actually are involved in the NBA and know the NBA game say that Kobe is the best player in the league--even those who would say that the MVP award should go to someone from a team that won 50 or more games.

There is a big disconnect between what people who actually are involved in NBA basketball and know the game think of Kobe and what a lot of fans who, quite frankly, don't know what they are talking about, think of Kobe. The disconnect between what people who know the game think of Kobe and what other people think of Kobe is actually laughable. I can assure you that if I read some of the comments that are posted here to NBA players and coaches that they would laugh out loud.

I've come to realize that past a certain point it really makes no sense to argue this back and forth. I will continue to interview players and coaches and analyze the game and people can make of it whatever they choose.

Kobe is the best player in the NBA right now. LeBron is a fantastic player who has improved at a breathtaking rate and may very well one day be the best player in the league.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 1:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

marcel you are wrong again if you ask other analyst from other teams when they talk to players that were on those championships teams if they liked kobe as a person theyll tell you no they didnt he was jerk as a person that has been proven thats why people dont like him everbody know he a good player but i was talking to you from a personality standpoint.

beating the pistons kobe couldnt do that even with that same team lebron got david loves kobe to much to tell the truth fact is some coaches and player etc think he the best player but hardly like everybody does there is people who are know going to say lebron is the best because of what he has done now.

kobe is past tense the future is the king bye bye bye kobe ha haha get your scoreing titles becuase lebron getting the rings

At Friday, June 08, 2007 3:27:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

This "analysis" comes from your vast personal experience speaking to all of these players and coaches, right? Give me a break.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 4:29:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

lebron played in a very weak conference is why he got as far as he did if he didnt play in such a weak conference he wouldnt get as far. shaq couldnt win without kobe those 3 years he might of been able to win with other players like he did wade but if no kobe was there and they had who they had they aint winning nuthing man on mommas you cant just dismiss kobe as just another player he was a great player on those teams. lebron may have a better career will see what happens though there are no gurantees in basketball if healthy hell be great. kobe the best as of today next year the year after well see thats all anymous 2.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 6:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

marcel shaq led those teams of course somebody else could of won with shaq at that time wade proved that winning with an even weaker shaq. kobe has 10 of the 20 worst 40 point game fg% ever 6 of the 13 worst 50 point fg% since they been keeping the stat 9 of 11 years his team shot better than him and 75 % of his 50 point games come against bad teams marcel this is all fact im not makeing up anything which means he's a great scorer but he got terrible shot selection jacks up alot of shots micheal jordan on 1 of 31 50 point games were under 50% ridicolous when compared to kobe.

yes lebron played in a weaker conference but the lakers team couldnt beat detroit and probably not nj so that is moot.

lebron will go down top 5 no doubt hell have a better career than kobe because his teams will win more kobe won 3 rings but he wasnt the leader of those teams and when he became leader they never got past the first round at least so far. as sally jenkins put it and this the diffrence between kobe and lebron people have to play with kobe but people want to play with lebron.

At Friday, June 08, 2007 9:22:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

mcgrady maybe but that is it vince carter and a i i dont think he could win with them because of vince has heart issue and how would ai fit in the triangle well if kobe fit anybody can fit i guest your saying i dont think so though. i didnt know those stats on kobe about the shooting percentage etc but those are telling but im sure david would say is team won most of those games so who cares how well he shot wgat are proveing there? i agree. the lakers may be able to beat the nj nets detroit a diffrent story but lebron got a little more than kobe. lebron will go down top 5 barring injury kobe won 3 rings as the two guy i agree but he was big for those teams that he won on. jermaine oneal will play with kobe so will kg and never heard nobody say playing with kobe was so bad i rather be in jail your assurating a little bit my friend.

At Saturday, June 09, 2007 3:31:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

In last year's Finals it could certainly be said that Wade won with Shaq more than the other way around, so I don't see how that proves anything about who could have won titles with Shaq in the early 2000s. Wade was not in the league at that time. None of the pretenders that have been suggested as Kobe replacements are as good in the clutch or at the defensive end of the court. Kobe is a student of the game who spent a lot of time with Tex Winter learning the ins and outs of the Triangle. I question whether his proposed replacements would have displayed that same dedication. Looking at NBA history, few teams have won three titles or more in a row, so it does not make sense to just say that "anybody" could have replaced Kobe. That is one of those statements that people in the NBA--people who really know basketball--would laugh at as being absurd.

Jenkins' column was very misinformed. She showed that she knows nothing about what happened in L.A. during the Shaq-Kobe years, nor the past couple years, when Kobe has played a very positive role in trying to develop the team's young talent. Kidd, Jermaine O'Neal and Baron Davis are just some of the star quality players who would like to play with Kobe. The idea that good players don't want to play with Kobe is a myth. The top player who is actually the most difficult to play with, due to the way that he monopolizes the ball, is Allen Iverson (I respect Iverson a lot, but that's the truth).

I've already refuted the field goal percentage business but here is a quick review of why that whole thing is nonsense:

1) It only includes a small sample of games.

2) It ignores Kobe's true scoring efficiency by not considering his three point and free throw shooting.

3) As Marcel mentioned, Kobe's teams won a high percentage of these games.

4) Shooting .500 from the field is an arbitrary number that has no significance. Field goal percentages have fluctuated throughout NBA history; in this era they are lower than they were during MJ's career because so many three pointers are being attempted.

5) The stat about Kobe shooting worse than his team overall is meaningless. The top player draws the best defenders and is frequently double-teamed. He still has to shoot the ball a lot for his team to be successful and he often must shoot contested shots and/or shots when the shot clock is winding down. The field goal percentages of his teammates likely reflect the open looks that they get from him being double-teamed. Also, role players tend to shoot only wide open shots and/or ones that are close to the hoop. You are implying that if the role players shot more and Kobe shot less then the team would be more successful but it is easy to show that this is false: simply go to 82Games.com and look at the Lakers' stats when Kobe is on the court and when he is off the court; the differential clearly shows how awful the Lakers are when he is not playing.

At Saturday, June 09, 2007 5:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

marcel im just pointing out that when you ask analyst from other teams when they were behind closed doors and ask his teamates in those championship years if they like playing with kobe or him as a person they said no they thought he was a jerk i dont know kobe but theyll tell you that.

shaq played great in the home games vs the pistons and nobody knew wade before shaq he was coming on the end of his rookie year but he skyrockted 100 levels up since he became a teamate of shaq.

to david

1. it's all the 40 point games the last 21 years and 50 point games then not a small sample

2. if you take away freethrows and 3 pt in most games he stilll shot under or worse so those helped alot not hurt.

3. he done it mainly agianst bad teams thats why they won alot of them that simple 75% of the 50point games against bad teams.

4. 50 percent is the bar for a guard player and someone kobe size so it is fair especially in games where 90 percent of the other player shot 50 percent in their games

5. i used that stat because jordan and bird shot better than there team every year of there career they drew the best defender i think? no excuse i thought the players on his team cant shoot now you saying they could huh.

you are a good analyst and have a right to your opion your influencing marcel alot he was on my side now he's going to yours got to get him back on track.

At Saturday, June 09, 2007 2:46:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

from a personality standpoint kobe was not liked when he was on the championship teams you are right but that was 4 years if you ask the players on the tea the last 3 years the genuine like kobe and he has became a better teammate. shaq was big agianst detroit but wade carried them in the finals without him miami was done shaq had a 6 and 10 point game when wade avg 36 in the finals you tell me who was bigger wade singlehandely changed that series not shaq and wade won a playoff series without shaq in 04 and did good against indiana so he would be great with or without him.
1. member 40 and 50 point games he has had combined 106 your takeing 16 10 of the 20 worst and 6 of 13 what about the other 90 is what david and I are saying so it is a small sample.

2 i dont know much about fg% like takeing away the 3 and freethrows so i guest your right there.

3. everybody plays agianst bad teams most of the league are average and bad teams and what team could stop kobe bryant? haha you funny he could score on anybody 62 in 3 quarters finals team dallas 52 in 3 utah west finals 53 houston 50 win team comeon man.

4 thats right 50 percent is the bar for guards but so winning dude he won 75 of 106 games your knitpicking by ripping these games you may be right that his shot selection isnt great im ripped him for that but his teammates isnt either he forced sometimes to take those shots because if he pass the ball those guys arent going to make it so as micheal jordan said before i rather shoot over 2 guys then smush parker shoot by himself.

5. i dont think kobe is as good as jordan right now or bird and david has alrady said that so okay jordan and bird shot better than kobe but they had less defensive pressure than kobe because they teamates were better mchale parish pippen rodman kobe not playing with a colge player right let along a hof like those guys.

david dont influence me we have went back and forth on the topic you dont give kobe any credit he great the players around him must get better than he will win agian and he asked to be traded because he wants to win the media said he was selfish because he wants a contender to be built around him? if he loved scoring so much as you and other cliamed why would he be so frustrated he loseing right now he got to scoring titles and already won 3 rings he set right nall kobebean bryant wants to win and he knows his legacy needs it.

At Saturday, June 09, 2007 3:53:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe has played several hundred games and you are talking about a handful of them. Also, .500 is no longer the benchmark for shooting accuracy because the three point shot is used so much now. Which guards shoot better than .500 now? Nash and Parker, but they are not volume shooters. Bird was a small forward who played 20 years ago. Anyway, I never compared Kobe to MJ or Bird so I don't know why you are bringing them up. I said that Kobe is the best player TODAY, which he is--and being the best player is not determined solely by field goal percentage.

I can't tell if you either don't understand why three pointers and free throws have to be included or you just don't care. You understand that you get an extra point for a three point shot, right? That means that if you shoot .333 from three point range it is the same as shooting .500 from two point range. So, if Kobe or anybody else has a field goal percentage below .500 but made a lot of three pointers then he still had a good shooting night. Also, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line is important; it gets the other team in foul trouble and enables your team to get in the bonus. That is why adjusted field goal percentage accounts for three pointers and free throws. The other reason that Kobe has so many 40 point games with shooting percentages below .500 is that he has more 40 point games PERIOD than anyone else since MJ. Somehow you "forgot" to mention that.

You have no idea how Kobe's teammates really felt or feel about Kobe because you have not spoken to a single one of them. You really need to read some of Roland Lazenby's books. He actually has spoken to Kobe, Shaq and the rest. The fact that Kobe played on three championship teams tells you all you need to know about his effectiveness at that time. His work ethic is second to none.

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 6:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

it was proven kobe was not liked ask greg dickerson or scott marsh they asked teamates behind closed doors if they liked kobe and they said they didnt marcel everybody knows this even kobe said he only cared about basketball and wasnt really tripping on being a great teamate thinking that as long as he was great at ball eveything would take care of itself he said this many times before.

wade wouldnt be known like he is or have the commercials without shaq member penny hardaway he had commercials and stuff when he played with shaq and then when shaq went to la his career went the other way and so did the commercials i know he got hurt but it was never going to be the same without shaq, kobe same thing he had commmercials and a bunch of hype around him a few years ago even more than now but when shaq went to miami everyting now going the other way for him. if shaq isnt on miami nobody compareing wade to jordan and he would not have a ring on his finger period shaq is a constant not those other guys.

im not compareing kobe games im compareing 40 point games marcel and he had 10 of the 20 worst the last 20 years which confirms he's a shot jacker who is not efficent iverson has close to 80 and he has 2 of the 20 worst so no comparison there. every bdy plays agianst bad teams but it;s telling to me that most of the games were agianst bad teams and also tell you why he won most of the games because they were against bad teams or teams worser than his marcel.

50 percent is not the bar in regular season as much as it used to be but it still means something when you are close or over especially when 90 percent of people in the 40 and 50 point games shoot over 50 percent in a game when you dont shoot close to 50 percent it means you volume shoot which is not efficent basketball like jordan or bird were.

im not saying he is as good as them but he is compared to them and im using them as the bar and he is not close to the bar great scorer and player myw hole point it is not effiencent shooting like game 5 13-33 type games been alot of those games lebron and wade dont have games like that at all really.

even if you take away free throws and 3's he still didnt shoot 50 percent so your point is moot david.

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 1:27:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

i dont no scott marsh or greg dickerson but i agreed he wasnt the greatest of teammates early in his career this was confirmed by kobe but know he is a better teammate so what happened early doesnt matter now he was like 18-25 when this was going down we all make mistakes young. wde was becoming a great player before shaq got there and penny got hurt and never got another great player same with kobe shaq always got another great player in their prime when he left those places penny was 21-25in orlando kobe 18-25 and wade 22-25 so he never played just by himself if he did he wouldnt of won anything. clearly you proved that he didnt shot well in every 40 and 50 point game but his team still won so it is just hateing to say but he ddin shoot a good percentage because if he shot a good percentage and his team lost you would say yeah he played good but his team lost you cnat have it both ways. for the last time i dont think he is as good as bird or jordan so this is moot any way you need to come up with stuff that really matter not this nitpicking stuff and hateing stuff that you have came up with man

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 2:40:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


If you correctly apply the adjusted field goal percentage stat to Kobe's 40 and 50 point games I doubt that he shot below .500 in too many of them--and, if he did, so what? What does shooting .500 in a 40 point game prove? Kobe's teams won most of those games and they would not have won them without him, whether their opponents were good in your estimation or not. You are completely ignoring that Kobe led the Lakers in assists throughout the championship seasons and also is an All-Defensive caliber player. All you do is drone on and on about field goal percentage. Do you really think that you know more about basketball than Julius Erving and Ron Harper? Erving appeared on NBA TV before Game One of the Finals and when Ahmad Rashad asked him about LeBron , Erving replied that Kobe is the best player in the league. I asked Harper about LeBron for my NBC article and never even mentioned Kobe--but he brought up Kobe and told me that Kobe, not LeBron or anyone else, is the best player in the league, by far.

I don't know Greg Dickerson from Eric Dickerson and I don't understand what possible relevance anything he said has to do with whether or not Kobe is the best player in the NBA. If you go into any workplace some people like certain people and other people don't like them. I do know that both Phil Jackson and Roland Lazenby wrote in their books that Shaq told assistant coach Tex Winter to "shut the **** up" during a team meeting. Shaq was jealous of Penny, just like he was jealous of Kobe. Penny's game did not fall off right after Shaq left. He made the All-NBA Team in 1997 and averaged 31 ppg in that year's playoffs. Then he got hurt; that is what caused his game to drop off.

You are the only one here who is comparing Kobe, Wade or anyone else to MJ--and then getting made that the comparison is made.

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 4:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

marcel they analyst that have talked to former players on those champinship teams and they said kobe was a jerk and a host of others have said that.

shaq gave those players the hype they got if they played without shaq kobe would be tracy mcgardy never out the first round and penny would do the same they gonna put up they numbers but there irrelevant becasue there teams are not going to win shaq teams have always won even with 4 role players shaq could get to the conference finals in his prime.

as far whats my point he is an inefiecent shooter and and a shot jacker david always praises his indvidual performances since his team isnt winning but alot of those games are not effiecent games he volume shooter take alot of shots to get alot of points lebron wade etc do not volume shoot jordan bird didnt either they all shoot over or close to 50 percent kobe highest is 46% which means he doesnt have good shot selection.

stuff that really matters is what im saying stop praising him and makeing excuses all day marcel when it is has been proven that his shot selection is bad and it is not effiecent kobe is great at his foot work up and unders his dunking great defensively when he wants too good asists guy good rebounder for a guard but his effiencenty and shot selection is not good especially in high scoring games.

david who's roland lazenby and who made him god i seen many people who talked to the players and they said they didnt like him behind closed doors all those players love shaq and everybody all the nba star player rappers etc love shaquille oneal what are you talking about trying to say people like kobe more than shaq hahahaha shaq on ocassion could get testy like the interview when he dissed the ref in toronto but shaq as a person or player is not qustioned if you try to argue you sad and playing yourself mad man shaq is a great person and why would he be jealous of kobe when he gets all the credit for the 3 rings that should of been 5 by the way.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 1:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Can you cite one specific player and what specifically he said about Kobe?

As for Shaq "giving players hype," you do realize that his teams have been swept out of the playoffs more than those of any other top player in the history of the NBA? Even Kobe got one game off of the Suns despite having no help this year. I'd like to know which year Shaq got to the Conference Finals with four role players. Penny was an All-NBA player, as are Kobe and Wade. Shaq's teams often had other All-Stars (or recent All-Stars), too. Kobe took a team with no other stars to within one rebound of beating the Suns in the 2006 playoffs. Shaq has never done anything comparable to that while playing with a supporting cast loaded with journeymen.

Roland Lazenby is the author of several books about basketball, including a definitive history of the Lakers and a biography of Phil Jackson. For years he has been in close contact with Tex Winter, Jackson's assistant coach in Chicago and L.A. and the inventor of the Triangle Offense. Lazenby knows more about what has gone on behind the scenes in L.A. then just about anybody. He is also the editor of Lindy's Pro Basketball, the annual preview magazine for which I've written some articles the past couple years.

I never said that people like Kobe more than Shaq; don't put words in my mouth. I said that I don't believe that YOU have any first hand reliable information on the subject. Personally, I don't think it is that relevant who likes whom. Kobe was an All-NBA player on three championship teams. If he were not a great player and a great teammate then that would not have happened once, let alone three times.

As for your obsession with field goal percentage, why do you insist on ignoring the fact that shooting percentages today are lower than they were in the 1980s because the number of three pointers shot has skyrocketed? If your best argument against Kobe Bryant's greatness is his unadjusted field goal percentage in a handful of games then you really are not bringing anything to the table at all. His career field goal percentage--unadjusted--is better than .450, better than T-Mac, Iverson, Carter and Ray Allen and about the same as Michael Redd. LeBron and Wade have slightly better field goal percentages but they are not three point shooters and also have lower free throw percentages than Kobe.

In summary, your field goal percentage argument is flawed because it (1) relies on a small sample of games, (2) does not account for shooting accuracy because it fails to include the effects of three point shooting and getting to the free throw line, (3) disregards the fact that .500 is not a meaningful barometer of shooting accuracy for perimeter players in this era and (4) obsessively focuses on one narrow area (unadjusted shooting percentage in a few randomly selected games) at the expense of looking at Kobe's overall impact as a player.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 4:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

im just pointing out that players didnt like him rick fox said kobe was not a good teamate at times kareem rush said you would get butthole kobe sometimes and good kobe some times same with robert horry.

if penny doesnt play with shaq he doesnt get the jordan hype same with kobe, wade didnt get any till he started playing with shaq because shaq gurantees alot of wins he won in all 3 places 3 rings la 1 miami finals apperance and when those players were with shaq they were winning alot when he left them kobe and penny havent done anything.

stop overating that series against phoenix pullllllllease he was up 3 to 1 and they lost no shaq wouldnt lose that series if he was up 3 to 1 with the same players and shaq impact is orlando has won a playoff series in 11 years kobe no playoff series wins since shaq 4 wins in 3 yearsto be exact with those same players shaq in his prime woulda take the mavs to the distance in 06.

shaq was swpet out 3 of his first seven years since 99-2000 once this year he been in 5 of the last 7 finals 4 championships IN HIS PRIME shaq wasnt as motivated then and not the same as 99-06 you should know that.

i said if you take away 3 point field goals and freethrows he still shot under 50 percent in most of the 40 and 50 point games man how many times do i have to say the same thing listen for once
so your excuse adjusted field goal percentage is moot anyway.

kobe shot 25 times under 40 percent in a game more than anybody the last 20 years he's an ineffiecent shot jacker is the whole point of this and ive proven that man you say shooting 50 percent doesnt matter cause you know that everytime i watch someone score alot of points i always look to see if he shot a good percentage because going 11-30 and scoreing 38 isnt a great game it's simple really.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 4:21:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

derek fisher ron harper both ron harpers rick fox devean george eddie jones all kobe teamates also caron butler they to this day like kobe so your point is wrong.

shaq has won because he always had a great player in his prime next to him kobe doesnt if kobe played with wade he would have good chance to win the campionship as well and david pointed there numbers are better or as good without shaq.

shaq in his prime could beat the suns with lamar odom? i dont know about that shaq needs shooter to be effective lakers players cant shoot how would he be effective.

im not going to argue about the 40 and 50 point games there is no argument his team would not win if he didnt have those games and won win he did so your point is moot.

kobe a great player his shot selection aint always the greatest but his teamates arent either they go hand in hand kobe wouldnt take as many bad shots if he belived his teamates could hit them they have not proven consistently they could is flawed but still great.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 5:43:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Repeating the same nonsense does not make it true. If you properly adjust Kobe's shooting percentage using the formula I mentioned previously you will find that he did not shoot poorly in the games that you cited. The bottom line is that his team won a high percentage of those games, so you have failed to prove that his shooting percentage negatively affected the team's success.

I don't know what you mean by "hype" but I don't see Shaq winning any titles without an All-NBA level teammate. Let's see if the Lakers provide Kobe with an All-NBA level partner, then we'll compare what he does to what Shaq did with Penny and Wade.

Kobe's team was not favored in either of his two series since Shaq--and would not have even been in the playoffs without all of his 40 and 50 point games that you dismiss.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 9:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

i said it 100 times if you take away the 3's and freethrows in most of the games he still didnt shoot 50 percent and his true fg% was not 50 percent you can make up stuff that dont matter all you want.

if they dont play with shaq nobody would be compareing them to jordan penny kobe or wade once shaq left all th jordan comparisons left for penny and kobe now wade playing with shaq he's now in many eyes the closest to micheal jordan but when shaq leaves`will they still be saying that nope.

kobe good but can never have the impact shaq has kobe gets you good shots shaq gets you wide open shots he would go alot deeper in the playoffs with the supporting cast kobe has and who cares if your favored or not he hasnt won a playoff series without shaq period those 40 and 50 point games were inefficent is my whole point he volume shot or took alot of shots to get points he was playing terrible teams so he could get away with it.

i proved everything to you your going to make it what you want to because you love kobe so much you dont live in reality you live in your own world kobe always does evrything right and when proved otherwise and hid fg% proves otherwise im going to change it to make it what i want to.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 12:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

You don't simply "take away" the three pointers and free throws; you subtract free throws made from points scored, divide that number by field goals attempted and then divide again by two. You have chosen an arbitrary measuring stick--shooting .500 from the field in 40 point games--to "prove" your point but it makes no sense to draw the sweeping conclusions that you are from such a narrow field of data.

If I "love" Kobe then Julius Erving, Ron Harper and everyone else in the NBA who knows anything about the NBA "love" him too. I guess you know more about basketball than the people who actually play and coach in the league.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 5:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

marcel is alot more resonable than you your just a kobe lover or apologist i dont have to apply some dumb formula to micheal jordan wade or james because they shoot 50 percent anyway and i said FG% why you keep twisting it and bringing up something that has no relevance to what i was saying in the first place it's an excuse mechanism your in coherent and dont know what youre talking about.

as far as dr j and ron harper thats there opion alot of people as well think lebron is better like myself and he's an overall complete player is my basis kobe is a great scorer but that dont make you the best player to me steals assists rebounds fg% all lebron kobe just scoring thats it freethrows as well defensive he's just an average defender james got him in blocks too.

dr j and harper arent the kobe aplogist you are s it's not the same as what you do what you siad make no sense you make an excuse for kobe even when it's been proven that you were wrong they dont do that dont use them as your crutch.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 5:31:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

kobe fg% in those games may not been as great as other but his team won so those games as david as said didnt hurt his team so who really cares how bad he shot its not an important stat.

if you know basketball and dont dislike kobe as a person he the best player most of the people say he not dont like and if he payed they bills and took care of they kids they still wouldnt say he was the best kobe put 31 5 and 5 lebron is a forward he should rebound better it's only 1 rebound and 2 asists more and he got better players if kobe played on his team he puts up same numbers

this is a side thing anymous and david did you see john hollingers best finals team the last 30 years the 01 lakers number 11 yes number 11 that was a joke they were the best the 96 bulls 87 lakers and 86 celtics number 123 the 83 sixers number 9 what and the biggest joke ever the 99 spurs number 7 that team was okay but would get smoked by the lakers in 01 the 96 bulls was in a super watered down league and they moved the 3 pointer in that year as well the 86 celtics were great not better than those 01 lakers they blew out every game they lost 1 to phily iverson had 48 and they had the 2 week layoff before that game the real should of been this 1. 01 lakers 2. 87 lakers 3. 86 celtics 4. 96 bulls 5. 83 sixers 6. 91 bulls 7. 92 bulls 8. 89 pistons 9. 2000 lakers 10. 82 lakers iknow youre going to say this has nuthing to do with anything but i had to say something

At Monday, June 11, 2007 7:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I saw the Hollinger article. What you have to understand is that this is not his opinion per se but simply the result of the way he crunched certain numbers. If you use different numbers or weight them differently then you get a different result. I don't necessarily agree with his rankings but it was an interesting attempt to quantify these teams statistically. I think that the '83 Sixers and '82 Lakers are way too low on his list and I would make some other changes as well.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 7:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I have explained in specific detail why Kobe is the best player today. I am not an "apologist" for Kobe or anyone else. I have also cited several players and coaches who agree that Kobe is the best player. Whether or not he should win the MVP is a separate question, based on one's criteria for the team success of MVP candidates--but even those who would pick Dirk or someone else as MVP acknowledge that Kobe is the best overall player based on his skill level and the fact that he plays both ends of the court.

What makes you think that because you cited some FG% numbers that this ends the debate? I've explained to you that FG% alone does not even measure what you are apparently trying to quantify--shooting efficiency--let alone prove who is the best player today (I'm not comparing Kobe to MJ and Bird so I don't know why you are). Why don't you just give it a rest for now, because you are not adding anything new. Kobe's FG% in 40-point games does not tell us anything meaningful about his shooting efficiency or his overall game. It is just the only thin reed that you can cling to as the waves of evidence of Kobe's greatness that I have presented carry you away.

At Monday, June 11, 2007 8:47:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


It is ironic that you wrote "your in coherent." This would rate pretty highly on Bill Simmons' "unintentional comedy scale."

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 1:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


come on man the fg% was what it was he had 10 of the 20 worst and 6 0f the 13 for the 40 50 point games it shows that he is not effiecnet in some of his high scoring games basically he's a volume shooter and doesnt have great shot selection thats why other players have had alot of 40 point games but also shoot 50% alot more than he does thats my whole point.

what are you talking about you proved kobe greatness carry you away james has him in fg% steal asist reb blocks so does wade kobe been in the laegue a lot longer got 3 rings so people may put him on top because of that and alot of times are blinded by his scoring binges forgetting it is just one part of the game he is not as complete as james or wade it takes years to be considered the best by most james and wade still young but there get there soon.

youre incoherent because i was talking about fg% and not the formula measure you was talking about you know i beat you in that argument so you brought that up im talking fg% not anything else what every player is measured in really.

those 10 things you talke about that proves kobe is the best james and wade are better than him in most whats kobe defining moment in the nba scoreing 81 in january agianst toronto magic sky hook against boston bird steal agianst pistons jordan shot agianst utah and the flu game james 48 point game agianst wade comeback agianst dallas duncan 21 20 10 8 03 agianst nj kobe has never had a defining moment yet he like roy jones jr his talen has never maximized to it's fullest potential.

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 1:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


the 86 celtics would sweep the 96 bulls in the conference finals that was the best team not those 01 lakers they beat a terrible team in phily the 86 celtics played around with houston and houston was better than philly they had the twin towers then but bird mchale and parish was there peak and that team was magnificent

my top 10. 1 86 celtics 2. 87 lakers 3. 83 sixers 4. 96 bulls 5 01 lakers 6 92 bulls 7. 89 pistons 8. 91. bulls 9. 82 lakers 10. 85 lakers

but the 01 lakers aint messing with those 80's team or jordan bulls team they have 3 great players to 2 and there role players were better as well.

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 5:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Thanks for mentioning for the 1 millionth time that your point was about field goal percentage and not adjusted field goal percentage--and my point is that your point is irrelevant because you can't judge a player on just one stat. Moreover, the stat you chose is not even the most precise way to measure shooting efficiency--and one more thing: if you like shooting percentages in 40 point games so much, then look up Kobe's percentage in such games in 2006-07: well over .500 from both two and three point ranges, which is simply phenomenal. I said that Kobe should have won the 2006 and 2007 MVPs, not the 2000 or 2001 MVPs, which is yet another reason that the stats you are citing have nothing to do with current player evaluations.

I appreciate your enthusiasm but you have not brought anything new to this issue and I consider the subject closed for now. Further redundant comments about field goal percentage will be deleted without reply.

You referenced my 10 points about why Kobe is the best player in the game today. Here they are in case anyone missed them:

1) Finishes at the hoop with either hand
2) Dribbles well with either hand
3) Has excellent post moves and footwork
4) Draws fouls and shoots FTs very well
5) Has three point range
6) Can get off a good shot attempt even against good defense
7) Rebounds well for his position
8) Reads double-teams well and makes the correct passes, which don't always lead to assists for two reasons: the second pass out of the trap often leads to the assist and it is not possible for anyone to get an assist if the shot is not made
9) Excellent defender, as acknowledged by the league's head coaches in All-Defensive Team voting
10) Tremendous inner drive and will to win

1) Kobe is a better finisher than Wade and LeBron because he is more adept at using either hand. When Wade goes left he almost always shoots a pullup jumper (note that by "better" I do not mean jumps higher or dunks more spectacularly; I am talking about effectiveness and ability to use either hand)

2) The same is true regarding ballhandling; Kobe has a better left hand than LeBron or DWade.

3) LeBron's postup game should be fearsome considering his size but it is still a work in progress. DWade is primarily a faceup player, in part because he is really only about 6-4 at the most.

4) Kobe, LeBron and Wade are probably roughly equal in the ability to draw fouls--but Kobe is a superior free throw shooter.

5) Wade is not a good three point shooter. LeBron is an erratic three point shooter. Kobe has a much purer shooting stroke (just compare their free throw percentages).

6) All three of these guys can get off shots against pressure, but Kobe's superior range and ability to finish with his left hand give him an edge. LeBron is the strongest of the three and Wade is probably the most explosively quick at this point.

7) All three players rebound well for their position.

8) All three players read traps well and make the appropriate pass. LeBron and Wade have superior supporting casts, which helps them to get more assists. They also are their team's de facto point guards, while Kobe plays shooting guard in the Triangle Offense.

9) Kobe is a far superior defender, as recognized by the NBA's head coaches--they vote for the All-Defensive Team, which Kobe generally makes. LeBron and Wade have each improved defensively but neither is as good as Kobe. LeBron is finally starting to take the challenge of guarding the other team's top perimeter threat (Billups, Parker), something that Kobe has been doing for years.

10) All three players have shown great will to win.

Kobe wins most of these categories against LeBron and Wade. The difference is not great but Kobe is the best player in the league. LeBron is in the top five and Wade would be in contention for one of those spots this year if he had not missed so much time due to injury.

There are many good reasons that Julius Erving, Ron Harper and many others say that Kobe is the best player in the NBA. That does not mean that they "love" Kobe or "hate" anybody else; Kobe's all-around greatness as a player is obvious to anyone who watches with a discerning, objective eye.

"Defining moments" are a poor way to rate players' overall greatness. Sleepy Floyd scored 51 points in a playoff game once. Does that moment make him a great player? Also, you keep bringing guys like MJ, Bird and Magic in the discussion but I have only been comparing Kobe to his contemporaries. I think that 48 points and 16 rebounds versus Sac, followed in the next game by another 40 point effort, this time against San Antonio, are pretty good defining playoff moments for Kobe. Another one happened in the Finals versus Ind. when Shaq fouled out and Kobe carried the team to an overtime win. During the telecast, someone--I think it was Brent Musburger--even said something to the effect that this was a defining moment for young Kobe.

His total body of work--three rings, multiple All-NBA and All-Defensive selections, two scoring titles, 81 point game, 62 points in three quarters versus Dallas, etc.--is not too shabby.

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 10:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

i keep saying fg% cause that what i was talking about and i dont have to adjust for jordan james or wade cause they already shoot 50 percent when they have high scoring games it shows your man not efficent and avolume shooter those other guys are not.

as far as your 10 thing half of them kobe is not the best in

1. 1 james and wade drive alot more than kobe and could do it with either hand kobe primarily shoots jumper he a good driver but doesnt do it as much

2. they all dribble with either james and wade play with a fair eye not with your kobe eye.

3. kobe better in post and footwork ill give him that

4. wade james draw fouls with kobe kobe shots better ft precentage over james wade is right there with kobe dont have him by much.

5. wade doesnt shoot 3's and james is erractic kobe is better here as well

6. get off the shot under pressure ill give you kobe there.

7. rebounds wade and james and wade is 6 4

8. assists wade and james and james supporting cast is barely better than kobe so is wade they both carried them teams to major victories when they were dead in the water wade 06 finals lebron pistons game 5.

9. kobe better defender than them but he still not great anymore

10. they all want to win i guess

summarize these 10 4 kobe 3 wade james 3 ties to me so your theory has some legs about him being the best player currently i still dont think so though wade and james have him in 5 other catergories steal blocks fg% reb ass and i believe like jordan have a better shot selection and have carried teams with similar talent farther.

defining moments dont mean nuthing because he dont have one when think of magic the hook shot when you think of bird the steal jordan the shot on ehlo or the shot agianst utah tim duncan almost quadruaple double in game 6 agianst nj sugar ray leornard aint ray leornard if he didnt stop hearns in 81 sugar ray robinson stopping lamotta in 51 ali stopping frazier in manilla in 75 those were defining moments in there career he's like roy jones he doesnt have one he's had great games but not one that defined him that what makes players great russell chamberlin robertson frazier all themhad one he doesnt.

you said compare him to contemparies tim duncan and shaq are clearly bettter so at best he 3rd in this era iverson is right there to me 4 scoring titles 1 mvp 2 allstar mvp carried a team to the finals he dont have the rings never played with another great player especially one like shaq so kobe number 3 in this era.

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 4:35:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

For the last time, when you add in Kobe's threes and the free throw attempts that he drew then his 40 point games are not as inefficient as you are suggesting. Just leave the subject alone already. You are completely wrong and harping on this subject to the exclusion of everything else just betrays your lack of knowledge about basketball, particularly since I have carefully and repeatedly explained to you exactly why you are wrong.

On points 1 and 2, we will have to agree to disagree. Kobe is a better and more versatile finisher and ballhandler who can go to the hoop in either direction. Again, we are talking about three of the very best but I give Kobe an edge in both categories.

Kobe gets the edge in point four because he is at least as good at drawing fouls and is clearly the better free throw shooter.

You have to evaluate rebounding by position. LeBron is a small forward who plays closer to the hoop on defense than Kobe or Wade. LeBron is an excellent defensive rebounder and his team relies on him to do that. Kobe and Wade are not primary defensive rebounders on their teams. I rated this category as a draw.

You keep extolling the virtues of Shaq and then you dare say that Kobe and Wade have the same quality in terms of supporting casts?! You are completely contradicting yourself here. As for Cleveland, I'd take Z, Gooden, Hughes and Pavlovic any day over Bynum, Odom, Walton and Smush. Then the Cavs bring Vareajao, Gibson and Marshall off of the bench. Also, Kobe is not in a point guard or point forward role; he accepts double-teams and passes the ball to a player who then reverses the ball to the weak side. Kobe is an excellent passer who can deliver bounce passes, one handed passes, chest passes and slick passes in traffic (which Kwame and others usually fumble out of bounds).

Kobe made the All-Defensive First Team this year. The NBA's head coaches, Hubie Brown, Ron Harper and others would disagree with your assessment, which merely mimics that of other ill-informed fans. That's what I am here to correct.

Still, even by your reckoning you see that Kobe gets at least a slight edge in these points, which are modelled after the way that scouts actually evaluate players.

How a player plays and what he is able to do tells you more than just stats, because stats are influenced by a player's role and the kind of teammates he has (that is most obvious regarding assists but true in other areas also).

All I am saying is that Kobe is the best player right now (meaning the last two seasons). I thought Shaq should have been the MVP in 2005. As for the current era--the past 10 years or so--clearly that is a battle between Shaq and Duncan that is too close to call at the moment. You could definitely make a case that Duncan, as the best big man in the game right now, is more valuable than Kobe due to his ability to control the paint on defense. I would not argue with that. I would say that Kobe is a "better" player from the standpoint of having fewer weaknesses (Duncan's Achilles heel is the free throw line). Kobe's game is complete from the standpoint of having no fundamental weaknesses in any core skill area (shooting, passing and dribbling with either hand, rebounding for his position and so on, as described above).

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 4:38:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

As for defining moments, this is a subjective area. I think that 48 and 16 followed by 45 and 10 are pretty good defining moments but to each his own. Kobe's performance against the Pacers in overtime in the finals was definitely a defining moment. Some of this comes down to what the mainstream media chooses to glorify and repeatedly mention. Kobe played great in those games, whether or not other people choose to "define" him by those games as opposed to other things. Shaq himself at one time said that Kobe was the best player in the game.

At Tuesday, June 12, 2007 11:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

i was talking strictly fg% you said that is not the best way to analysis a player but thats the only way most experts do it just admit it david you got beat give me my due i beat one of the better anyalst on that specific subject.

kobe could go in either direction but so can wade and james and james is the best finisher and they go to the basket alot more is why if kobe went to the basket as much it would be a dead heat because as you said they all 3 great at it.

wade and james draw more fouls or i should say shoot more freethrows a game then kobe slightly is why isaid they draw a little better but kobe better at shooting free throws

to me james and wade are better rebounders they have to score and get alot of assits like kobe and rebounding is reb regadless of position charlkes barkley 6 4 shaq 7 2 barkley was a better rebounder than shaq and for shaq size he never was a great rebounder not like chamberlin or russell.

shaq is 35 david not what he was when he played with the lakers that shaq was the 29 and 12 shaq the shaq in miami is a shell of that when we debate kobe and how much he contributed to the rings thats the shaq im talking about the 2000-2004 shaq this shaq is nowhere near that he can give it evry other game so wade aint playing with alot more than kobe antoine walker gary payton haslem much like kobe descent players. lebron is as weak as kobe look at the finals right now ilgauskas is old gibson is good hughes is done gooden pavlovic average his supporting cast at very best is a little better than kobe not that much at all.

PLEASE david kobe is not a great defender anymore and he plays in spurts doug collins steve kerr agreed with me and alot of others he didnt have a all nba defensive type year this season is my whole point.

yeah kobe is a very great player but in alot of his high scring games they were not efficent has been my whole point he could well be the best player in the nba but i think wade and james deserve more respect by some of these analyst and are right there with kobe.

tim duncan and shaq the best two kobe a little better player but dunca more valuable if kobe could win a ring or twop without shaq then he could be the best player of the era and up thger with bird and mj and magic 5 rings a couple mvp's would do the trick.

he might have a defining moment down the road not a clerar cut one yet

At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 1:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I appreciate your comment that I am one of the best analysts but I am not willing to concede defeat in the endless FG% debate. You are wrong that FG% is the primary way that analysts CURRENTLY evaluate shooting efficiency. That might have been true in the past but the increasing use of the three point shot and the development of new metrics has changed things.

Now that you have started addressing my specific points about Kobe you see that we really don't disagree that much. Yes, LeBron and Wade are great but Kobe has at least a small edge in several key areas, as even you have begrudgingly but correctly admitted.

I'm sure that Kobe would gladly trade this current Lakers roster straight up for the teammates that LeBron and Wade currently have.

I agree that LeBron and Wade deserve much respect. I respect both of them a lot, particularly because they have performed so well in the playoffs in their young careers.

Collins and Kerr are certainly entitled to their opinions but the NBA's head coaches voted Kobe to the All-Defensive First Team this year--and Ron Harper and Hubie Brown agreed with that, as I found out by speaking with both gentlemen. People can disagree but the consensus among informed people is that Kobe is still a top perimeter defender.

What would without question be a defining moment for Kobe would be to win a title as the clear number one option, as you and Marcel have suggested. We will see if the Lakers provide him a good enough supporting cast to have a realistic opportunity to do that.

At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 7:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kobe great james great wade great but james and wade are younger you have to factor that in cleraly lebron supporting cast is okay but nuthing great to me they simailar lebron a little better he has to win the championship as the one option to be a top 10 player all time to me bird magic jordan kareem oscar bill wilt dr j and shaq was slam magazine in 02 they all one option kobe gonna have to do that.

to me clearly his fg% was not great in his big scoring games but his overall game is great so it all equal at the end just conced you lost the fg% battle thats it.
to s

At Thursday, June 14, 2007 5:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

But I didn't "lose the fg% battle"; I clearly explained why fg% is not the best way to measure shooting efficiency and why it is not correct to evaluate a player's overall skills based on his fg% in a few games.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home