Was anyone surprised that Kobe Bryant took more than 40 field goal attempts against the Golden State Warriors? It might be the first time this season that he’s taken this much on himself, but it’s happened quite a lot, especially when compared with other players, since he began his career for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since Bryant entered the league in 1996, there have been 15 games in which a player has taken over 40 shots. Nine of those games belong to Bryant, three of them to Allen Iverson and the others to Hakeem Olajuwon, Chris Webber and Zach Randolph. What happens when a player shoots over 40 times from the field? Teams have gone 8-7, while the Lakers are 5-4 when Bryant takes so many shots. So one made a joke that their 100% this season when he goes for 40 or more.
But there’s plenty of dark side, as expected, to this trend. Since 1985, Bryant is only the second player to attempt over 40 field goals and fail to reach 40 points. Kobe Bryant in the 118-115 win over the Golden State Warriors, and Dominique Wilkins with the Atlanta Hawks in 1988. Bryant made 16 of his 41 field goals, tied for worst of these 40+ attempts performances since 1996 (with Zach Randolph, who went 16-40).
Now, some would argue that a couple of shots better, or at least getting called for a foul on some of these shots, taking him to the line instead, would have changed the perception of that performance. But anytime a player takes so many field goal attempts, it means that something isn’t right about the game plan. It’s not like Bryant is playing on those teams from 2005-2007, when he was the only talented player on them. When Dwyane Wade was going through the bad Miami years he didn’t have a single game of jacking up so many shots.
Either Bryant feels like he has no one to play with and pass to – a team with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and at least one or two more capable scorers, or there’s some sort of mysterious game plan being used, that’s about not using other players. Whatever it is, the meaning is pretty bad.
Now, this isn’t the worst of Bryant. He missed 30 field goal attempts against the Boston Celtics, shooting 17-47 from the field. That was in 2002, but Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t playing, so, maybe, just maybe, it’s understandable.
We can get it on numbers for pages upon pages, but it doesn’t change the bottom line – the Lakers shouldn’t be playing like this. It’s not like Kobe Bryant is waiting open and keeps getting the ball. He just becomes a last stop for any kind of passing that goes on. Even with Steve Nash, that’s is supposed to distribute the ball a bit more evenly among the players, Bryant can’t shake, and doesn’t seem to want to, the ball-hog playing style.
There’s no one on this team that’s going to say something. Bryant is above pretty much everyone, except for the owner. D’Antoni just needs to hope that Steve Nash does make choices that involve other players as well, while the other guys stop running away from any kind of responsibility or confrontation with the NBA’s leading scorer. No NBA title is going to come from allowing Bryant to take more than 23 field goal attempts each night, which happens to be his average on Lakers losses.