Well, apparently the answer is an incredibly resounding “yes!”
Lakers Nation took to Twitter and posed this question to the fans:
After over 300 votes, 78.7 percent of fans voted “Yes,” while just 21.3 percent voted “No.”
So, let’s break it down a bit.
This season, Kobe has dished out 10-plus assists three times–each occasion ending with a Lakers’ win.
The team, on average, moves the ball around enough for 21.8 assists. However, in those three games, the Lakers averaged 27.3 assists.
More telling is the fact that the team averages 108.6 points when Kobe drops 10-plus dimes, opposed to a season average of 102.4, and the difference in points differential is quite significant when the Kobe dishes as well; the Lakers have an average points differential of +1.4 on the season, but a differential of +12.6 when Kobe reaches double-digits assists.
Obviously, that stat is based on a very small sample size, and it shows how stats can be manipulated to prove a point.
Regardless, the stats may be skewed, but the eyeball evaluation is the most definite: The Lakers simply play much better offensively and defensively when Kobe Bryant facilitates the offense.
As for whether he needs to continue to average 10-plus assists per game for the Lakers to keep winning? I don’t necessarily buy it.
Let me explain.
First of all, I don’t see Kobe averaging 14 assists (as he did in consecutive games against the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder) for the rest of the season. I don’t see him averaging dishing out 10 assists every game, either.
It’s not that I don’t think Kobe will keep it up or that he’ll revert to shooting too much again, but rather that teams will adjust and there will be times when Kobe does need to shoot the ball as a first option.
What Kobe does need to continue doing is look for his teammates and try to get them going–especially his big men.
Teams are playing Dwight Howard pretty strong down in the post, so Kobe and the rest of the team have to continue to try and find ways to get him the ball. But, if opposing teams keep locking him down in the post, it simply leaves other players available to produce, so the ball must swing to them. Fortunately, the Lakers have another big man: Pau Gasol.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe was able to work extremely well with Pau Gasol–as he has done so often in the past–and it resulted in 16 points (on 7-10 shooting) and four assists for the Spaniard.
It didn’t just work out well for Gasol, though, as Steve Nash put up 17 points (2-4 from three-point land) and dished out five assists, Metta World Peace had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Antawn Jamison had 12 points, and Earl Clark had 11; Kobe himself had 21 points on a highly efficient 8-12 shooting. Dwight Howard, however, was in foul trouble and just managed eight points.
Now, let’s take a look at what happens when the Lakers run the offense through Kobe Bryant.
Next Page: Running The Offense Through Kobe