The Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest problem according to some people around the league is Kobe Bryant, yes, the 34-year old that’s leading the Lakers and the league in scoring.
Bryant and the Lakers are currently 12-14 and the team is surely not living up to expectations thus far into the season. The Lakers are having trouble adjusting to the new offense and some players look lost while on the court. Mike D’Antoni was hired as the new head coach earlier in the season, and he is still trying to get his players to perform as a cohesive unit.
Bryant seems like he has adjusted to the new offense, but even though his numbers have not slipped, some people believe the five-time champion is the reason for the Lakers’ struggles. According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com an opposing assistant coach believes that Kobe’s shooting and his tendency to dominate the ball are two of the main reasons as to why the Lakers are sitting below .500.
“Absolutely, Kobe’s shooting too much. When we played them, we told our guys, ‘Look, we don’t necessarily want Kobe going for 50. I mean, we’re going to guard him. But we’re not going to double him, and we’re not going to try to get the ball out of his hands.’ Our main concerns were not to let [Antawn] Jamison hit a bunch of 3s and not to let Dwight [Howard] go crazy down low. There’s no question they would be a better team if Kobe shot less. Why do you think [Pau] Gasol struggles? He’s going to struggle in any offense where he doesn’t touch it.
“At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with [Mike] D’Antoni and his system. It’s all about what Kobe will allow to happen. When you play the Lakers, it’s like they don’t have a system. It’s whatever Kobe chooses it to be. If he wants to take all the shots, he’ll do that.
The Lakers have gone 4-11 when Bryant takes 20 or more shots in a game; however, the team is 8-3 when Kobe attempts less than 20 shots. According to the statistics, it is clear that the Lakers play better when Bryant dominates less and allows his teammates to contribute too. It seems as though Bryant does not fully trust his teammates, something that has to improve in order for the Lakers to make a deep playoff run.
Los Angeles will get back to full strength very soon as Steve Nash should return to the lineup in the coming games. Nash will certainly help Bryant on the offensive end and if there is one scorer Bryant is willing to pass the ball to, it’s Nash. The Lakers are currently riding a three game winning streak, and if Bryant wants to see that number rise, he has to be open to letting his teammates operate on the offensive end.