The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled this entire season as a less than stellar roster was met with a ridiculously tough early season schedule. However, arguably one of the most concerning things has been the play of the Lakers one superstar, Kobe Bryant.
Averaging over 25 points at his age, while coming off two consecutive major injuries is something that very few people could do, but Bryant has done so in an inefficient fashion that has hurt the Lakers at times.
Bryant has never been the most efficient player, but things have been even worse this season as Bryant is shooting a career worst from the field while having the highest usage percentage in the NBA.
This has led to some rough performances from Bryant, with his most recent, an 8-30 shooting night against the Sacramento Kings really sticking out. Bryant’s inclination to take over games has also taken his teammates out of the flow of games as well.
With the Lakers playing their last three games without Kobe while he rests, we asked our panel of experts if Bryant is hurting the team more than he is helping? This is what they had to say:
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Minus the poor shooting, this season’s Bryant looks much like the one the basketball world has grown accustomed to. He is leading the team in scoring while also being among the league leaders.
Part of the reason he is able to is also because of the high amount of shots he takes in a game. As a result, his teammates are often seen taking less with Bryant even taking some difficult, contested shots, the same ones he would make years ago.
It would be easy to say Bryant’s style is hurting the team. By taking all the opportunities, his younger teammates aren’t given the chance to shine just as they did in Tuesday’s surprising win over the Golden State Warriors. Even stats say that when Bryant is on the floor, the Lakers are less efficient on both ends of the floor.
While he continues to be ineffective, not all the blame is on Bryant’s shoulders. When players are moving around, Bryant is willing to be a distributor early just as he was in the road win in San Antonio.
There are a couple of Laker losses than can attributed to Bryant’s overshooting. The team is still learning how to play with him on the floor. Now it’s just about finding the proper balance. Although that should’ve been discovered weeks ago.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): We’ve seen two different styles of play from Kobe Bryant this season. One, the dominant scorer of old, but taking way too many shots to get his points. The other being the facilitator who’s determined to get his teammates involved in any way he can.
Unlike in years past, Kobe the scorer is no longer effective. Kobe’s missed shots are starting to pile up and the frustration appears to be mounting on the superstar and his teammates. Even head coach Byron Scott is starting to express concern after basically letting Kobe do what he wanted to in the first 27 games of the season.
With the Lakers sporting a record of 8-19, before Tuesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, it is time for a change. It’ll be a difficult change to say the least for Bryant, but the time has come.
Shooting a career-low 37.2 percent isn’t going to get the job done. Kobe is jacking up 22.4 shots a night which is the most in the NBA ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge at 19.7.
Kobe’s three largest assist totals have all resulted in wins this season. Bryant dished out a season-high 13 against the Detroit Pistons, 12 against the Toronto Raptors and nine versus the San Antonio Spurs. All wins.
It seems pretty clear to me that going the facilitator route is the best course of action moving forward.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): Without a doubt, Kobe is hurting the team with his play this year.
May I present to you Exhibit A – Tuesday night’s Golden State Warriors game. The Lakers romped the Warriors without Kobe and they played noticeably better on both ends of the floor. Sure it’s just one game, but it was a big statement from the team.
Kobe’s ISO-centric offense is atrocious and at some point Byron Scott needs to hold him accountable for the plethora of bad shots. Kobe can’t keep shooting mid-range shots over two or three defenders. His 37.2% field goal percentage coupled with the volume of shots he takes every game is really hurting the team.
I hate it when I hear people say that Kobe has to take so many shots because no one else on the team can score. That is a ridiculous and ignorant argument. This team scored 115 points on 51.7% shooting on the league’s best defense without Kobe. They also had 28 team assists.
Clearly they can score with good ball movement and spacing. Many other teams in the league have discovered that ball movement is the key to offensive success in today’s NBA environment. Unfortunately Kobe and Byron Scott haven’t caught on yet.
On defense Kobe is a liability. He often sags on his man and tries to save his effort for offense. On the whole, Kobe’s play has negatively affected the team this year.
It’s no longer 2006; Kobe’s style of play is not conducive to success in today’s advanced stats NBA. He can still be a contributor, but he needs to change the way he’s playing and play within the team concept.
Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): I believe that Kobe Bryant is hurting the Lakers more than he is helping them. I will say that Kobe is a phenomenal player. He’s the kind of player that comes once a generation and his career certainly does reflect that. Kobe has always been an excellent individual player. In fact, that’s what has made him so great.
He has an ability to take on an entire team with his own two hands. While that may have worked to an extent in the past, Kobe is older and has certain physical limitations that inhibit him to playing with that kind mentality now.
In the games that the Lakers have won this season, multiple players have contributed on both sides of the court. For example, when the Lakers beat the Spurs on December 12, Kobe had 9 assists. Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, and Nick Young all stepped up to beat the defending champions collectively.
Another example would be in the Warriors game December 23 when the Lakers decidedly handed the Warriors a loss at Staples Center. The offense was distributed extremely well as the they used a more balanced approach to defeat the top seated Golden State Warriors.
I truly believe that Kobe is in fact hurting the Lakers by trying to do too much on the offensive side. The ball movement is stopped and his teammates end up looking lost and idle.
Kobe is still an elite player, but not like he was before. The Lakers have the potential to still make the playoffs if Kobe learns to facilitate and trust his teammates.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Kobe Bryant has undoubtedly hurt the Lakers at times this season, but I would stop short of saying he has hurt the Lakers more than help them this season.
Kobe’s minutes and usage definitely need to go down, and he needs to start moving the ball more instead of holding it. But that is also a two-way street. Players have to move and cut when he has the ball in order for him to be more of a facilitator.
In my opinion, the changes needed fall more towards Byron Scott who must do a better job of limiting Kobe on the court, and holding him accountable when he starts forcing the issue.
Kobe’s role on this team is far more than just his scoring. He still has the ability to draw defenses towards him which can help his teammates get open shots. He also won’t accept anything less than maximum effort which forces everyone to give their all at all times.
It can be easy to look at the Golden State game and run wild, but the Lakers need Kobe to be their best. Kobe hasn’t been great this year, but he still helps the Lakers more than hurt them.[divide]
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