Kobe Bryant is not Playing Winning Basketball

Yes, you did read that right. Kobe Bryant is not playing winning basketball.

In the midst of Kobe’s popular “Kobe System” commercial, Kobe Bryant has strung together some massive games. Over the past 4 he’s gotten over 40 points in each.

The Lakers, in the past few games, have been on a roll. They won 5 straight games after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers and failed to get a 6th last night vs the Los Angeles Clippers. Most of those wins came by the skin of their teeth. Although the scores don’t indicate that they were close games, the opposing teams were actually in the game. The Lakers, even with all of their talent, probably could’ve lost some of those games; I would say at least three. That’s because the rhythm of the team is off right now. The ball isn’t being put in the right spots and that is because it seems like Kobe Bryant is making it a mission to score 40 points a night ever since we began to question his shot selection after te Denver game. He’s noticeably taking note of the things that people are saying that he can not do anymore and saying that he isn’t the player he used to be. Most notably, the ESPN #NBArank where he was ranked the 7th best overall player in the league. After going for 48 on the Phoenix Suns Kobe took a shot at the rankings. “Not bad for the 7th best player in the league” he said, making sure that we know that he knows.

Kobe has come into this season with a huge chip on his shoulder and is going to do whatever he needs to do to get it off. For the Lakers, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. We saw that last night during the Clippers game when Kobe went 14 for 28 and ruined the rhythm of his bigs in the low post; or even when he went 6 for 28 against the Nuggets for only 19 points. Think about when he almost blew that game in Utah that went into overtime. He shot terribly in the 4th quarter and overtime. If not for the work of Andrew Bynum on the inside and Pau Gasol’s 3 point shot the Lakers lose that game without a doubt in my mind.

The problem here is that this obviously isn’t sustainable, winning basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers; instead it is predictable because you know where the ball is going each and every time down the floor. When Kobe touches the ball he looks determined to shoot; just like the Kobe of 06-07 who was on a team with much less talent than the one he has now. They missed out on the playoffs but Kobe sure did look great with his stretches of immense scoring. The problem is that Bryant isn’t setting anyone up with his looks. Its more iso-ball than anything; one side of the floor gets cleared for him to go to work. The problem is when he draws the double he pounds the rock and shoots instead of patiently dribbling out and finding the open man. He has the best Center in the NBA at finding deep position early in possessions and one of the best low block players in the NBA. Why not feed them the ball?

Sure, 4 straight 40 point games at 33 with a bum wrist look awesome. It is awesome when you think about it. This is why Bryant will undoubtably go down as one of the greatest players of all time. But right now, if he wants to win another championship, he needs to play within the system that Mike Brown has in place. He can get a lot of better looks by playing inside out with his bigs. If he worked off of them he could score a way more efficient 40 than he is now. That’s how sustainable, winning basketball works.

Right now, those bigs are struggling to find rhythm with those shots. In the games that Kobe has scored 40 points or more Andrew Bynum has averaged about 11 shots per game and 12.7 points per game. Pau Gasol has averaged 15 shots per game and only 15.7 points per game. Instead of being what makes this team go they are reduced to the oil that prevents the 16-year-old cogs of the machine known as Kobe Bean Bryant from rusting. In the past 4 games, Bryant has averaged 30 shots rather easily. He leads the NBA in scoring but he also leads the NBA in field goals taken by a long shot according to Basketball-Reference.com. Kobe Bryant has taken 351 shots and the next closest player to that is Kevin Durant with 233. Of those 351 shots Kobe Bryant has only made 163 of them. The next closest player to that wouldn’t be far. According to Basketball-Reference once again, Lebron James has the 2nd most makes with 119. In comparison to Bryant’s attempts, James has only taken 206 shots. Kevin Durant has made 118 of his 233 shots. They are scoring and being efficient; that’s why Miami and Oklahoma City are 2 of the best teams in the NBA. The LA Lakers are not.

Feeding the beasts down low will put the Lakers in the upper echelon of teams in the NBA. The Lakers know this, Kobe knows this, and the fans need to know this to. While all of his games have been amazing, and its great to watch him make all of the bad shots that he takes, in the end it will be more damaging to the Lakers than it will be helpful.

Instead of focusing on the Kobe System, maybe they need to play in the Lakers System. Then they will be a championship contender.

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About Michael D. Sykes, II
Hoops writer, I've come to terms with it. I love Basketball and it loves me back. Check me out at Baselinehoops.com and my own creation, "Whats Left on the Floor" at http://ballahollicsonly.wordpress.com.

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