Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why Kobe's hunt for scoring title may hinder the team

With Andrew Bynum (T-5) and Pau Gasol (T-2) being among the top-10 in double doubles this season the Lakers should be a more dominating team collectively. 

Both Bynum and Gasol are averaging 16 points while Bynum is averaging 14 rebounds and Gasol 10. The Lakers are the only team in the league that has two top 10 players in double doubles. This luxury should be capitalized, not ignored.

Kobe Bryant scoring 40 points in four consecutive games is a fantastic individual feat but only limits his teammates production. What happens if/when Kobe's numbers start to drop? From the eyes of an outsider looking in it definitely looks like Kobe is only looking out for himself, perhaps a scoring title and from the looks of last night's lopsided performance that may be a fair statement to make. However Lakers fans know deep down (sometimes digging really deep) that Kobe is a team player and shoots an average of 30 shots a game because he simply has to. After all, he is the teams assists leader averaging 5.4 a game.

When you have two superstar big men that have the capability of putting up double-doubles game in and game out why wouldn't you want to take advantage of their talents in hopes of winning more games? Kobe shooting as many shots only limits the Lakers twin towers to the lower end of their averages. In fact Gasol is in route to averaging just 9 rebounds per game mirroring his career average. Gasol has the ability to shine much brighter.

There can be an I in WIN when Kobe scores 40+ points only when four starters score in double figures. Losses typically come pouring in when the SF doesn't contribute enough. Rest assured, L.A. can rely on their 3's to consistently carry their loads, Bryant, Gasol and Bynum but without the fourth option contributing, individual highs will only benefit fantasy basketball owners and not the team.

Point guard vacancy

I hate to to bring up the usual suspects when analyzing Laker voids but it wouldn't be fair not to. It would be nice to have a reliable point guard who can push not only the offense but more importantly the team to where they need to be. Unfortunately the truth of the matter is Derek Fisher has yet to score 10 points this season and really hasn't gotten in any kind of shooting rhythm. He's shooting 30% (FG/3PT).

Steve Blake, who has contributed the most at the 1 is out with a Constochaondral fracture (ribs). He's out for 3-4 weeks.

Rookie Darius Morris is quick and is only getting better with every passing game he gets to play in Blake's absence. He's shooting 62.5% (5-8FG) and has yet to miss a 3-pointer (2-2). One 3-pointer coming 50 feet away.


The other reason for Kobe's ball hogging ways is because of the void at the 3 spot.

Matt Barnes, in the last 5 games has gone 18-36, shooting 50%. He has been the big reason to the Lakers winning 5 of their last 6 games. In last night's loss to the Clippers though he went 1-6, hence the contribution needed at the 3. 

Metta World Peace is ice cold. In the last 5 games he's shooting 30% FG, in the season he's at 35%. You don't want to know what he's shooting behind the arc, 7.7% (2-26). His minutes have decreased at just 20. He needs to do something to regain coach Brown's trust.

Devin Ebanks has played in just 8 games and Luke Walton has only played in 5. Their contribution to the team is in scrimmage ball.

Kobe Bryant is having an unbelievable season but if he doesn't get any help from the teams 4th option his individual feats will only benefit him, advantage Kobe. If losses start to take their course Kobe will have to find a way to make his team better and the only way he'll be able to achieve that is to simply trust his teammates more. He already attracts the defense, now he just needs to attract it to create shots for his teammates.

Listen, he can still continue to score in high numbers while distributing the ball. Just look at Rose and the 12-2 Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose is averaging 21 points with 9 assists. A league best 12-2 record even with their star center Noah playing mediocre ball. 

Discouraging facts about Kobe winning back-to-back scoring titles (2006-2007)

Kobe won his first scoring title in 2005-06. Lakers regular season record that season was 45-37 (.549). They were ranked 7th entering the playoffs and knocked off in the first round to the Phoenix Suns.

The following year Kobe won back-to-back scoring titles in 2006-07. Lakers regular season record was 42-40 (.512). Again, same results entering the playoffs ranked 7th only to be taken out by Phoenix yet again in the first round. 

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