Twitter Wars: Is Kobe’s Offense the Problem?

Kobe shooting

I was driving to pick up my daughter last night after work when I heard a few segments of some late night sports talk radio show on 710 ESPN. The host, J from Compton, led the discourse of tying the Lakers current woes to Kobe Bryant’s shot selection and volume. He mentioned other problems as well but the discussion was dominated by Kobe’s offense. It’s a tired topic that routinely resurfaces anytime a Kobe led Lakers team begins to struggle.

The continued disrespect and utter lack of appreciation of what Kobe brings is mind-boggling. Scratch that, its mind blowing, and in the bad and gory way, not the good mind blowing.

Kobe Bryant is, was and will always be a go for the throat, relentless, unconscionable, aggressive scoring machine.

It’s who he was when he lined up next to Shaq during their reign on top of the NBA in the early 2000s.

It’s who he was in the down years after the upheaval when Shaq was traded and he called guys like Smush, Kwame and Walton as teammates. Ugh.

The same Kobe was launching shot after shot (many bad shots) in the 2 most recent championships with his new #2 guy Pau Gasol.

It’s who Kobe is now.

The Lakers have been great because of what Kobe has brought offensively; they’ve taken the immense good with the occasional bad.

But J from Compton and those in the Kobe shoots too much camp say it’s a problem NOW.

I thought I’d put my 2 cents in the conversation via Twitter and got into a little exchange with @Jfromcompton:

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I referenced my piece on the last 22 years of NBA champions that in most cases included a dominant offensive player that took close to or more that Kobe’s current shot output. The point being a high volume shooter is the norm on a championship team and never seemed to derail a championship team before, including those with Kobe on the team.

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There is no doubt that the Lakers are struggling. They are currently 17-22 and 11th in the Western Conference. If the season started today, the Lakers would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Lakers performance this season is completely inexcusable considering the level of talent that they acquired in the off-season.

But how is it that Kobe Bryant’s offense, which has been simply incredible this season, is being singled out as part of the Lakers’ problems? How is it that J from Compton and those with his same line of thinking keep pointing their finger in the wrong direction?

Here are the Lakers current offensive team stats with their NBA rank in parenthesis:

Scoring: 103 ppg (4th)

Field Goal %: 45.6 (tied 8th)

Offensive Efficiency: 106.1 (6th)

The Lakers offense looks pretty good.

Lets take a look at the Lakers defensive team stats:

Points against: 101.4 (26th)

Field Goal % against: 45% (16th)

Defensive Efficiency: 103.4 (17th)

Here are a few other problem areas for the Lakers:

3 point % against: 35.4% (20th)

Opponents points in the paint: 44.0 (28th)

Opponents fast break points: 15.6 (30th)

The Lakers have a litany of problems and as you can see from above, they are all on the defensive end. Yet, J from Compton and others want to talk about Kobe’s offense? Its analogous to your doctor recommending a rectal exam when your complaint was a toothache.

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Despite J from Compton’s insistence, the team isn’t being hurt offensively, so the discourse relating the Lakers current problems should not involve Kobe’ offense or any other offensive facet of the game. As I have clearly shown, it is the Lakers defense where all the problems are centered.

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If the Lakers are able right the ship and at least make a serious run at an NBA title, Kobe’s play on the offensive end will not have changed from what we are seeing now. Its going to be same old Kobe. The changes will be with the many other problem areas of the Lakers.

However, reality is, if the Lakers are unable to veer the direction of their season out of the current path of unmitigated disaster, the blame will most certainly fall on the lap of Kobe Bryant; fair or not; right or wrong.

– Fern Rea “@fullcourtfern” “@raining3sdotcom”

  • Do you not agree that if Howard and Nash both have better shooting percentages than Kobe then they should be shooting more and Kobe less? Although Kobe’s shooting percentage is so far a career high of 46.4, Howard’s shooting percentage is 58.2. Dwight should shoot more and Kobe less. Kobe shoots more than Howard, Gasol, and Nash combined. The Lakers have a good offense and a bad defense but I’m arguing that they should have a better offense. Steve Nash is still one of the best point guards in the NBA on offense and maybe the best passer in the NBA. Remember when he played for the Suns? Him and Stoudemire were the best PG-PF/C duo in the NBA and their team went to the playoffs. Now he has Howard and Gasol down low. If Gasol stopped playing outside and went down low where he belongs his shooting percentage would go back up and most likely be better than Kobe’s as well like it was in his first 3/4 seasons with the Lakers when they were good. Plus, (a stat from December 12th) the Lakers went 1-10 when Kobe scored 30 or more points and were 8-3 when he didn’t. Kobe’s excessive shooting most likely disengages his team. Even though the Lakers offense, according to your stats, is better than average, imagine how good it would be with some chemistry. Kobe inhibits this by coming down the court and making too many of their possessions one-on-one match-ups. You cannot tell me that the Lakers are on the same page on offense. Their chemistry is the worst in the NBA and this hurts them on defense too. Allowing Nash, a true point guard to run the offense, would allow the Lakers to be much better. Moreover, if Nash can’t play defense, then you should utilise his offense prowess. Otherwise, if Kobe is going to hog the ball, you might as well put a defensive player in for Nash because it’s not like Kobe is passing the ball anyway. However, I’m not blaming the problem with the Lakers entirely on Kobe. I think Mike D’Antoni needs to realize that his style of offense does not fit his group of guys and so he needs to be the one to make the adjustment. D’Antoni has a fast break offense but his team is slower than probably every other team in the NBA and so he needs to slow down the offense. Plus, this way, they can be more energized for defense.

    • I think you bring up a lot of good points, but the finger should be pointed at D’Antoni more than Kobe in regards to not utilizing Dwight and Gasol correctly. Kobe is doing what he has always done which is being an aggressive scorer. My main point was that the Lakers problems are all on the defensive end, so to point out anything on offense when that is actually doing well (outside of the last 3 games) is misguided.

      Bigs are always going to have a higher FG% than your guards, if they don’t you have big problems. But its not as simple as bigs should shoot more than guards because they have a higher %. That doesn’t mean that if you give them the ball more that the team will be more productive and efficient on offense. Did you want Jordan to take less shots than Bill Cartwright or Bill Wennington? Do you want Serge Ibaka to shoot more than Kevin Durant? Those bigs also shot or shoot better than the prolific scoring perimeter player, but you would never want them taking more shots than your star perimeter players. Prolific perimeter players get their shots up easier, quicker and without the need of a system, a play being called for them or even having to depend on getting them the ball. The opposite is true for bigs, who need someone to get them the ball and have a system that promotes post play. Aggressive and prolific perimeter players like Kobe and Durant will open up the post for your bigs. This is where you are correct, the post isnt being utilized correctly or enough despite having 2 great big men, one of which has a great post up game (Gasol).

    • I don’t think anybody expected for Nash to play like he did during those years with D’Antoni in Phoenix. 1) he was already in decline based on his performance in his last season in Phoenix. Nash is 38 years old. 2) Those Phoenix teams needed him to be every bit the playmaker because they didn’t have guys that could create on their own. That team needed a system and a play making PG. 3) Playing along side a prolific scorer like Kobe who doesn’t need a system or a guy to create for him Nash was going to handle the ball less. Nash is here to help the other guys, and at times take pressure off of Kobe so he can supplement his scoring by playing off the ball. This is exactly what is happening. I think Nash and Kobe are playing awesome together and Nash is running the team well when he does have reign of the team which is still a lot of the time. Since Nash has returned from injury Nash is averaging 12 points and 9 assist per game; I think that shows that Nash is in control of the offense and that Kobe’s shot output is not limiting his effectiveness.

    • The record of the Lakers when Kobe scores 30 or more points was from early in the season that you mentioned has since changed and there is no longer a correlation between Kobe high scoring output to Lakers losses. Lakers are bad whether Kobe shoots a lot or not. During the Lakers recent 5 game winning streak of the season, from Dec 14th to Dec 25th, Kobe scored 30 or more in each of those games. Of the Lakers last 8 wins Kobe scored 30 or more in 6 of those 8 wins. Of the last 9 losses, Kobe has scored under 30 points 7 of those games. This information refutes any link between Kobe’s scoring output and the Lakers losing. What is consistent in the losses are all of the problem areas in my post.

  • I think what we can all agree on is that this team is not being run the right way based on the type of talent on the team. And this team has a ton of talent, but it needs to be utilized in the correct way which is obviously not being done right now.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for showing all my tweets…keep writing your sabotage ass blog dude. LOL! AFL!!!

  • Gerry

    J from Compton is a Hack. Guy cant put thoughts to gether and at the end of whatever it is he is saying makes no sense. He’ll be out of the game soon and back to whatever it was doing before.