There are always two sides to the Kobe Bryant argument. One that suggests the Los Angeles Lakers have no chance with him taking so many shots, and he needs to stop being so selfish, having Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash with him. The other says that shooting is the only way this team will get back on track.
Some numbers are too good to ignore. When Bryant takes fewer than 20 field goal attempts, which has happened 14 times this season, the Los Angeles Lakers win 78.6% of their games, an 11-3 record. The Lakers have lost 8 of their last 10 games. In their two wins since 2013 began, Bryant shot 14 and 19 shots from the field.
When Bryant takes between 20 and 24 shots from the field (his average this season is 22.1), the Lakers are 4-11, winning 26.7% of their games. When Bryant shoots 25 or more, the Lakers are only 2-9, winning 18.2% of their games.
Obviously, with Dwight Howard out of the game (ejected in the 103-108 loss against the Houston Rockets), we’re going to see a spike in Bryant’s usage. Bryant took 32 field goal attempts against the Raptors, going 10-32, 3-12 from beyond the arc. That’s 31.3% from the field. If you want to make it look a bit better, you use eFG%, which rises it up a bit to 35.9%. In fact, Bryant hasn’t been so bad as the bad games might suggest. His eFG this season is 51.9%, the best in his career and his field goal percentage is 46.8%, his best in over a decade.
But when the going gets tough, the Bryant gets shooting. He wears down faster than in the past, and road trips aren’t as easy to handle than before. Bryant talked quite a few times about being old and getting tired. Shooting all the time isn’t helping him or the Lakers, but they’ve gotten themselves into such a situation that not using Bryant, while the offense remains with this current system (extremely hard on Gasol with 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds this season, is a definite loss, unless Bryant decides he doesn’t want to shoot as much.
When it comes down to it, it’s only his decision. D’Antoni isn’t going to tell him to stop shooting or play better defense. He might throw a hint or two through the media, but that’s that. Power resides only where men believe it resides. Bryant has it, he’s had it for years. Problem is, he’s taking advantage of the force given to him, almost abusing it to the point he’s harming the Lakers, suffocating it into a point where a win can come only when he decides to give up and forget his ego, which can’t happen too many games in a row.