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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Kevin Ding Provides Insight Regarding the Challenges that Kobe Bryant has Overcome

After scoring 20 points on 6-13 field goal shooting in the first half versus Washington on Wednesday night and helping the L.A. Lakers build a 64-49 halftime lead, Kobe Bryant lost his shooting touch in the second half; Bryant shot just 3-18 from the field and the hapless Wizards stormed back to post just their ninth win in 38 games this season. The Lakers are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, which may surprise the oddsmakers who ranked the Lakers as one of the league's top five teams but it does not surprise anyone who read my Western Conference Preview: I picked the Lakers to finish sixth in the West and predicted that they would be more reliant than ever on Bryant's scoring and playmaking even though a player of Bryant's age who has logged so much mileage should be having his role reduced (to preserve him for the postseason) instead of being relentlessly driven at top speed until his wheels fall off. Bryant is leading the NBA in scoring, ranks among the league leaders in minutes played and he has produced some sizzling performances this season but he is also an aging player who has not missed a game despite suffering a torn ligament in his shooting wrist, a broken nose and a concussion.

If Bryant were not showing some signs of fatigue by this point in the lockout-compressed season then he would be superhuman--but instead of focusing on what Bryant has overcome and how his efforts have kept a mediocre Lakers team afloat, many members of the media choose instead to endlessly critique his shot selection; they are apparently unwilling or unable to realize that you cannot run a championship caliber offense through a soft Pau Gasol or an Andrew Bynum who still has a limited post game. However, it is refreshing that at least one person who watches Bryant up close on a regular basis is capable of providing an objective perspective about Bryant's performance this season. Do yourself a favor and check out Kevin Ding's article titled Masked Kobe's clearest message: persevere. Ding describes not just what Bryant has accomplished this season but also how Bryant's determination to play through injuries fueled the Lakers' run to the 2008 Finals and thus set up their back to back championships in 2009 and 2010.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:47 AM



At Thursday, March 08, 2012 3:55:00 PM, Anonymous Michael Joseph said...

Even people who hate Kobe Bryant have to respect what he is doing right now. It is the epitome of heart and dedication.

It's no big secret that Kobe takes ill-advised shots at times, but to suggest that he should shoot less and simply feed Bynum and Gasol more is asinine. Both of them have trouble establishing position and both get their shots altered very easily. They both CAN dominate the game at times, but both are far from dominant players on a consistent basis. Kobe is the one keeping the team afloat.

This obsession that the NBA media has with Kobe's shot attempts is nothing more than pseudoscience. They take so much joy in saying that Kobe’s shot selection is the biggest problem with the Lakers, yet they completely disregard the laughable deficiency at point guard, the woefully inadequate bench, and an even more laughable deficiency in youth/athleticism. Somehow, Kobe’s shot selection is more detrimental to the team than those factors.

At Thursday, March 08, 2012 7:25:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Michael Joseph:

I would hope that regardless of rooting interests people respect what Bryant is doing, particularly when so many players sit out with minor injuries either because they lack toughness and/or they want to protect their statistics.

What many people fail to understand when they try to evaluate Bryant purely by looking at his FGAs is that you have to look at the entire dynamic of the Lakers' offense and how opposing defenses attack it; Gasol is drifting out to the perimeter more than ever this season, while Bynum often lumbers down court and takes time to establish post position. When Bynum receives the ball in the post he cannot score unless he is right by the basket; he lacks explosiveness and reacts poorly to double teams. Sure, once in a while Bynum will make a short jumper or deliver a nice post move but frequently if he cannot simply catch the ball and dunk he experiences problems. The Lakers lack consistent long range shooters, so opposing defenses swarm Bryant and make it difficult for the Lakers to get quality shots--and that is why Bryant sometimes forces shots early in the shot clock: he'd rather take an open look whenever he can get it then waste 20 seconds on the shot clock trying to do something that won't work and then have to shoot a hand grenade as the shot clock is about to expire. There is no problem with Bryant shooting quickly when he has energy and his shot is accurate but when he is tired or off target the Lakers are dead in the water. It is ridiculous to think that when Bynum has a 6-8 night that he would have actually shot 12-16 or 18-24 if he would have gotten more shot attempts; Bynum shoot so accurately because he is mainly getting lobs and easy shots after Bryant is double-teamed: it's not like Bynum is some great offensive force who is creating his own opportunities like Shaq or Hakeem Olajuwon.

At Friday, March 09, 2012 6:21:00 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Speaking of the dynamic of the Lakers' offense, have you seen this? http://www.bballbreakdown.com/why-michael-jordan-was-better-than-kobe-bryant/ (The creator said he will do more because this is admittedly a small sample)

At Friday, March 09, 2012 3:03:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


No, I had not seen that. With all due respect to the author, I would not draw broad conclusions about MJ and Kobe based on a six minute video thrown together by a high school basketball coach. You could edit together clips of almost any player to make that player look really good or really bad. I have consistently said that I think that MJ was better than Kobe--primarily because MJ had a more consistent offensive game from 15 feet and in--but I don't think that video proves anything one way or the other; MJ's "good" shots and Kobe's "bad" shots look pretty similar! MJ played most of his career with Scottie Pippen and thus MJ did not have to initiate the Bulls' offense the way that Kobe has to initiate the Lakers' offense; throughout his Lakers' career, Kobe has had to be both MJ (primary scorer) and Pippen (primary playmaker). That does not mean that Kobe is better than MJ but it does mean that Kobe is carrying a very heavy burden and I think it is obvious that this is part of the reason that Kobe's FG% is not as good as MJ's (two other reasons are that Kobe shoots more threes and that shooting percentages in general are lower during the current era).

At Friday, March 09, 2012 6:24:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Well he also has other breakdowns : He predicted Lebron would have a career year (using the first game vs. the Mavs); said a healthy Bill Walton brought more to the table than any other center (Game 6 77 Finals)and lots of other stuff including interviews with Tex Winter and Pete Newell.

At Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:05:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


He may have valid points about MJ versus Kobe but a six minute video of selectively edited highlights neither proves nor disproves his premises.

It is not particularly difficult to predict that a great player in his prime coming off a disappointing Finals will have a career year in the regular season. We'll see what LeBron does in the playoffs.

At Saturday, March 10, 2012 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

THIS guy should impress you more : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByQ4A9nx6k4

At Sunday, March 11, 2012 12:48:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I usually don't post off topic comments but that was pretty cool--assuming that it was not a set up.


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