Last season, when Kobe Bryant was on the floor he took shots (or was fouled) on 30% of the teamâ€™s attempts. For some perspective, that was the third highest level in the league (Allen Iverson was at 32.7%, Jermaine O’Neal in his limited time was at 32.3%).
What was impressive is that Kobe was still generating plenty of offense despite the heavy workload and focus from defenses â€”ignore what some in the media are saying about his shooting percentage being at an all-time low. Using standard shooting percentage it was (43.3%, barely down from his 43.8% the year before), but that doesnâ€™t take into account the increased number of three point shots (170 more than the season before) and the fact he was getting to the free throw line a lot more (he attempted 131 more free throws than the season before). Kobeâ€™s eFG% (which accounts for the three-pointers made) was 48.2% (right at his career average) and Kobe had a career high 1.13 points per shot attempt.
That said, while Kobe was taking 30% of the shots, no other Laker was above 20% (Lamar Odom was second at 19.7%). Think about that for a second â€” if there are 100% of shots available and five players on the court, the average is 20%. No other player was above that level. Odom was just about there as the number two option, the third option last season, Caron Butler, was at 19%.
This season, for the triangle offense to flow properly that has to change. Things should start better with Odom in the point/forward position distributing the ball. If Kwame proves he can pass well out of the post heâ€™ll get plenty of chances down there. Plus, if Kobe can bring his usage rate in the offense down to 28% or so, he can select some better shots and pass up some of the prayers he was forced to take last season.
That is similar to what the triangle brought the Bulls in their glory years. Letâ€™s look at the possibly the best team ever, the 72-win 95-96 Bulls â€” Jordan took 31.9% of the shots when he was on the floor, but Pippen took 24.4% and Kukoc 21.3. The other key players may have shot less but were efficient when they did.
Thatâ€™s why one thing I saw in the first preseason game made me a tad nervous (yes, I know it was the first game). When things went poorly early, Kobe took over the offense and kept the Lakers in the game. The Lakers got back in it, but it looked a lot like last season when everyone stood around and watched Kobe.
After the second preseason game, poster Gatinho sent me a quote from Kobe, who had just 11 points in the game, saying he just wanted the offense to flow and pointedly took less shots so that teammates could work on the offense. Thatâ€™s good, itâ€™s what preseason is for.
There are times for Kobe to take over games, but usually that is in the fourth quarter of close contests. Too much of it with this team, particularly early in the season, will hurt this Laker squadâ€™s development.
Right now, the love needs to be spread around.