By Brent Pella
A look at a few trending topics in the NBA community as the lockout season continues through winter:
“Good Lo’dy wo’dy / I just took more shots than Kobe”
Big Sean didn’t need to search too far to find a metaphor with the word ‘shot’ involved.
Kobe Bryant’s shooting habits are one of the most talked about caveats of the Lakers squad this season. Bryant has taken 292 shots through 12 games so far this season, and averages a Jordanesque 24.3 attempts per game. People continue to bash his shooting, while others say it’s the only way L.A. can score.
Fortunately for this argument, numbers don’t lie.
The Lakers’ first loss came at home against an energetic Chicago squad. Kobe took 23 shots during the game, connected on 11 and finished with 28 points in the one-point defeat. The squad’s second game was a loss against the Kings, in which Kobe took 24 shots, connected on 10 and tallied 29 points.
The Lakers followed their two-game losing streak with three consecutive wins, in all of which the Mamba took less than 20 shots.
The first 10 games of this season have shown that if Kobe keeps his shot attempts under 20, the Lakers will win. That doesn’t mean he needs to hold back on his shooting or even limit his shots per game for the rest of the year. However, it does mean that there are certain techniques and plays the Lakers use during these games that, if recognized, would benefit them in future matchups. Whether that means passing out of a baseline double-team instead of opting for the fall-away, or finding new options out of Mike Brown’s offense [Bynum went for 21 points and 22 rebounds against Houston!], there is a solution, and it doesn’t have to be Kobe slowing down.
This year’s outcome of a shortened NBA season would without a doubt be different if the full schedule was put in place in November. The effects of 66 games as opposed to 82 this year are daunting to say the least, and will be made apparent throughout the year leading into the playoffs.
1) Sixty-six games will be played over the course of just four months. That’s approximately one game every other day, three to four games per week. Combined with the exhaustion of travel and practice on off-days, this season will prove to be one of the most challenging for many players. Age will be a huge contributing factor toward the success of teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the youngest squads in the league, with an average age of just over 24 years old. They’ll be able to respond physically to the demands of the season, while veteran teams such as the Celtics or the defending champion Mavericks will have a harder time adapting to the rigors of this year. Think about this: Dallas and Boston rank No. 1 and 2 in oldest teams in the NBA, based on average player age.
2) Come playoff time, seeds won’t matter. It’ll seem like March Madness, where any team can be upset at any time. Look at the 1999 season, which was cut to 50 games because of a lockout. The No. 8 seeded Knicks made it all the way to the championship. Because of this year’s shortened season, teams will not be able to gain as much experience of playing out-of-conference foes, and thus will be less prepared, setting the foundation for upsets across the league.
3) Rookies drafted in last summer’s draft didn’t have the opportunity for fall workouts with their team or their new coaches, which severely limits them during this first part of the season. Teams that would normally be relying on their new rookie talent, such as Kyrie Irving at Cleveland, will be hurting, as their rookies may need more time to adapt to the NBA. If a team is reliant on their rookie class, they may need to use this shortened season as a learning tool for next year.
You can reach Brent via email or his Twitter, @BrentPella.