Two of Three: Kobe Bryant

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The Black Mamba falls in at number two on the list. He’s just a hair behind Dwyane Wade this season but has produced more offensively than almost any other player in the association. There is literally nothing that Kobe can’t do on the offensive end of the floor right now.

Kobe is like a wine that’s been sitting for years, just growing and evolving as the days go by. They say wine tastes better with age, of course, I don’t know because wine is nasty. But if that’s the case, then its certainly a great comparison for Bryant.

Bryant has developed so many facets to his game since just the 2008 season. Then, he was like a bullet train that could get to the rim at will along with a jump shot that seemed automatic. The game wasn’t as slow as it was for him today. Now, he lets the game come to him instead of just taking it by force. Either way, Bryant has been an effective player for all of the 16 years that he’s been around.

What he does well

Again, Bryant is one of the best offensive players that the game has today at the age of 33. He’s been destroying teams with his plethora of moves, shots, and ball fakes for what seems like centuries. There’s a reason why he’s still one of the harder players to guard in the league and that’s because of the evolution of his game.

Bryant leads the league in scoring with 29.9 points per game and also gets 4.8 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds. He plays around 39 minutes per game which is astounding for a player his age. The fact that he hasn’t broken down to injury baffles me each and every season .

It speaks to the hard work and dedication he puts into staying healthy and in shape. He’s a viable MVP candidate right now–a dark horse, but he’s still in play. If the Lakers were winning games consistently it’d be a different story.

What I love about Bryant as a two guard is how he uses his size to his advantage. He doesn’t have to blow by people to score on them–instead, he can just shoot over the top of them. His post game is one of the most effective. His footwork on either block is legendary. He’s got so many shot fakes, ball fakes, and separate jabs that he can use in his face-up game or with his back to the basket.

His turnaround jump shot from the post is magnificent. He’s really become a master at creating separation off of the dribble form the post. He does it so quickly and then he’s in the air. You can’t get a good contest because kicks his leg out to provide guaranteed space between he and the defender. Its something that a lot of players try to do, but they lose their balance in doing so. Bryant does a great job at maintaining his balance and keeping his body square to the rim when making these moves.

Take a look at this video below. Its Kobe Bryant’s one dribble pull up jump shot from the face-up position in the post. Kobe may be the best in the game at this. Between he and Carmelo Anthony, I don’t know who’s is quicker. Take a look.

Bryant faces up on Willie Green, swings the ball from right to left, jabs to the right and then takes that dribble to the left and pulls up over Green’s defense. In such a quick move, Bryant is able to take shots over the defense just like that one. He’s got way more in his arsenal–that’s just the most deadly.

Bryant gets 1.16 points per possession in post-ups according to synergy sports technology. There’s a lot of good things that Byrant does well, but his post game is probably the best. They don’t run a lot of post looks in MIke D’Antoni’s offense for anyone. Only 8.9% of Bryant’s scoring opportunities are from post-ups.

He’s mostly in isolations and pick and roll situations in this offense. A horrid 26.5% of Bryant’s scoring opportunities have come from isolations. Luckily, he’s skilled enough to prosper off of these. He scores .98 points per possession off of isolations. Out of 227 attempts in scoring, he’s made 96 of them. He’s top 10 in the league in converting these isolations into points.

The same goes for pick and rolls. As the pick and roll ball handler–in which a dearth of them came from when Steve Nash was out–he scores .95 points per possession. 22.3% of his offense comes from these possessions and he’s converted on 46.1% of them. That’s a very respectable percentage.

As good as Bryant is with the ball in his hands, he’s just as good when he’s slashing to the rim or receiving the ball off of a handoff. His quickness is still great for his age, and he’ll sneak right by you because he knows the angles of the floor and where cuts are going to be available at even before they happen. Any open space on the floor is made an option for him and he see’s exactly how to attack it. Take a look at the video below.

In all of the sequences, Kobe is taking advantage of the open space that the defense isn’t occupying. With quick movements and angle knowledge, Bryant knows exactly where to be and when to be there for the perfect pass. His teammates do a great job there of getting him the ball in the right spots at the right time.

Bryant is one of the best offensive players today in the game and the little things he does are the reasons why. He’s been able to survive and thrive in the league because of those things. He’s one of the best to ever master them.

The bad

Kobe has picked up some really bad tendencies along the way in his illustrious career. Of course, he’s a great scorer, and that’ll lead to some terrible nights shooting the ball. He tends to hold the ball and become somewhat predictable in his moves. The key is being able to stop them. Some players can and some can’t, but it always helps the opposition when they know what you’re going to do.

Kobe has also defended pretty terribly this season. The Lakers defense hasn’t been good all around, but it doesn’t help that he’s allowing people to blow by him and attack the rim. Even with Dwight Howard behind you, there has to be some defense played to help your all-world center out. That’s the only thing that’s kept him from being number one on this list.

Kobe is still one of the best players in this game and I’m not willing to say that he won’t be anytime soon. He’s dominant offensively and has a game that could possibly keep him around for two to three more years performing at a high level.

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