Putting The Finger On Kobe’s Shooting Woes

Kurt —  January 11, 2010

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Kobe is in a shooting slump — 31.8% over the last three games from the field. He knows it, Phil knows it, you and I know it, other team’s scouts know it, there are probably nomads in Mongolia that know it.

Kobe talked about it after the game, and you can get some of the details of what he said in this story over at NBCLosAngeles. (They provide my press passes so they get the quotes and good stuff first.) Kobe and Phil both blamed the issue on him trying to find a comfortable way to deal with the avulsion fracture on the index finger of his shooting hand. Phil calls it his “prosthetic.”

The last three games, Kobe has played without a splint on the finger, just tape. He said it gave him a much better range of motion and feel, but that the finger was not strong enough so his shots keep coming up short. Heading into the Texas Two-Step this week of San Antonio and Dallas the splint is going back on, Kobe said. That should improve his shooting. Should.

Darius made a good point in the comments about Kobe:

Kobe is wired a certain way and there will be nights where, despite evidence saying that he shouldn’t, he’s going to continue to shoot the ball because he thinks the next shot is going to go in. Kobe knows that one or two shots can turn his night around and he’ll seek out shots to prove himself correct. This may be faulty logic and I think we’d all like to see Kobe make different decisions if it truly isn’t his night, but this is the guy we have and I’m willing to live with nights like this every once and a while. The reason I say this is because Kobe has shot himself out of nights that started poorly and he has been able to turn what started out a bad night into a pretty good one.

Last night, the rest of the team picked up the slack. (Well, mostly on defense, where the Bucks shot like a team of Kobe’s. That was not a basketball game to store in the vault for future generations to cherish.) But without Gasol — who Kobe trusts — he is more willing to go into the “shoot out of the slump” mode than normal. Pau’s return should help (maybe this week, saw him walking at Staples last night and there was no limp or hesitation, not that you can tell much from that).

What does all this mean? Really, it means that the Lakers need to be healthy when the playoffs start. That remains the top factor in a repeat.

One other little not — something Wondahbap said in an email — that was not only the most aggressive but also the physically best Bynum has looked to me this season. He ran the floor more fluidly, and his leaping and timing for rebounds just seemed better. He was getting off the floor, well off the floor. Maybe that was motivated by the rumors around, although Bynum said he had never heard them and when told it was basically him for Bosh responded with a laughing “That’s crazy!” He then added he has heard so many rumors and things about himself over the years that he doesn’t really worry about such things anymore. I’d like to believe him. Maybe he had his best game because he’s 22 and got his touches early and was just up for tonight. Predicting him is nearly impossible. But the issue remains we need to see this Bynum when Gasol is in the lineup, not the one going through the motions.

to Putting The Finger On Kobe’s Shooting Woes

  1. Bynum’s motivation worries me a little, but he is 22. I worry that his newfound energy comes from being told that the team needs him now because of Pau and Kobe being hurt. He is the next guy to turn to for offense. And I wonder if that is what triggers him to feel like he fits in and should dominate the entire game. Does this also help explain the team’s defensive success last night?

    Meh, I don’t know, it doesn’t do a lot of good to start speculating as to what’s going on in his mind. He is a young man with personal goals he’s trying to accomplish while on a team pursuing greater goals. Sometimes it takes time to understand that balance.

    But it doesn’t surprise me that he’s suddenly being mentioned in trade rumors if he’s showing that he’s not on the same page as everyone else.

    On Kobe’s finger- we go through this a ew times every season. He gets hurt, plays inefficiently while figuring out how to play with it, then suddenly it starts feeling better and he goes on a tear where he shoots 65%. I just hope the finger heals on the timetable we’ve heard and a month from now things are normalized. Maybe the fact that he tried tape is a sign that it feels better??


  2. exhelodrvr, in the last thread you mentioned a study that purports to debunk the “contract year” phenomenon. I’d be really interested to read that if you manage to track it down. I seem to remember reading a study that did just the opposite (argued that the contract year has a statistically measurable effect on performance), but like you I’m having trouble finding it.


  3. “MannyP13 wrote on January 11, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Somebody please explain to me how Bynum can go from 2 rebounds to 18 in a single game? Although he said he did not hear the trade rumor something inside me tells me that he did hear that and this was his way of showing that CB has nothing on him on the defensive end – although I think CB is a much better defensive player than AB.”

    Bynum had 12 rebounds in the previous game against Portland, and 14 in the game before that against the Clippers. When did he have only 2? What are you even talking about?


  4. In response to Alex V in the previous thread, Kaman actually speaks to the inaccuracy of the “contract year” theory. He had the best season of his career (to that point) the first full year of his new contract (until he was injured), missed most of last season, and now is having the best year of his career.


  5. Kobe will come around hopefully,he always does.

    As a side note what is the difference between Lakers and Cavaliers games @ Portland?

    Duh,the latter of the teams was allowed to actually play and decide the outcome of the game by good officiating.This is the difference of LeKing I guess.


  6. Re. Bynum:

    I think part of his problem is Walton’s protrected absence.

    I don’t have a stat, but it seems to me Bynum is more effective when he is flashing to the rim, rolling off his man for short lobs, etc, than when he is doing straight post-ups. He seems to get a lot of good action moving towards the hoop, with his arms up, and as noted, seems hesitant at times in straight post-ups and often has issues dealing with doubles on the block.

    If/when the whole roster is healthy, I would like to see this unit get some extended floor time:

    Walton/Odom/Bynum/Farmar and Vujacic/Brown.

    Both Walton and Odom are effective getting Bynum the ball on short lobs, working high-low action. Farmar also likes to penetrate, to throw lobs and to run the floor, which would help Bynum as well.

    Then, I would like to see this unit out there some as well as a counterpoint:


    This puts Artest at the 4, and I think it allows Gasol and Bryant to work structured, half-court two-man games, with one at the elbow and the other at the block, with Fisher and Vujacic spotted up at the 3-point line. Also, depending on the matchup, Artest could be a “Stretch 4” in this alignment.

    I know there are a lot of variables–game situation, defensive match-ups
    –and I do think Bynum should continue to start. But I think Phil needs to work his sub patterns in ways to try to get more out of Bynum. Also, doing this would get Pau and Kobe more rest, which I think is going to matter.


  7. 2) Ryan,
    Did some looking around, and so far can’t find any actual “studies.” The general opinion seems to be that it exists, and a few examples will be given, but no real statistical study.

    One column said that it was related to the height of the individual, that centers were more prone to it than guards, postulating that that was because centers/PFs were more likely to fall into the category of being pushed towards playing basketball because of their height, not drawn to it for the love of the game.

    As I noted above, Kaman does not fall into this theory. It didn’t seem to apply to Lamar last season; it will be interesting to see what happens with Bynum and Gasol this season.


  8. robinred,

    Loving those lineups.


    I can’t seem to comment on NBC. Do I have to log on to facebook or pick my city? Because I checked the anonymous box.


    • Simonoid, I can email NBC and see if there is some issue. I don’t handle the comments or the tech stuff there. Which is best for all of us.


  9. Well explained on kobe’s style and game. Kobe also has a delicate ego and at some point that ego may cause a real physical problem for him and his team.

    Taking some time off to let a finger break heal can be a great idea, but I never see kobe listening to anyone including Dr’s. kobe is his own worse enemy, demons indeed.


  10. Well explained on kobe’s style and game. Kobe also has a delicate ego and at some point that ego may cause a real physical problem for him and his team.

    Taking some time off to let a finger break heal can be a great idea, but I never see kobe listening to anyone including Dr’s. kobe is his own worse enemy, demons indeed.


  11. I was unaware of the issues surrounding the splint (or lackthereof). That gives a bit more insight into Kobe’s struggles.

    However, despite Kobe’s struggles, I’d still like better execution on offense and that is something I’ll be looking for, with or without Gasol and Walton. Kobe, and the rest of the team, need to better execute our sets and I’m hoping it starts sooner rather than later. I mentioned this in the last thread, but it makes little sense that the Lakers are outside of the top 10 in offensive efficiency. Even without Pau, there is enough offensive talent on this team and enough knowledge of our sets to be better than that. Better decision making and discipline is needed and I hope the players figure it out and soon.


  12. exhelodrvr, I think this might be what I remember reading:


    It’s towards the bottom of the page. My recollection was that Gladwell referenced a specific study, but it turns out his evidence is only anecdotal (he uses Dampier as an example). Still, worth a read nonetheless.


  13. Bad finger or not, I don’t like seeing one player shoot nearly 40 shots in a game when the team is supposed to run the Triangle offense. The Lakers need to run the offense, get other guys shots and let the chips fall where they may.

    That Portland loss killed me because Kobe did not need to take so many shots. If they are going to lose (and surely they will again for the season is done) lose as a team. By at least going throught the motions of the offense it keeps guys heads in the game. The shot will fall at some point.


  14. I don’t care if Kobe jacks up a bazillion shots with his busted finger(s). I do care if he jacks up a bazillion shots with his busted finger(s) and no one is in rebounding position. Kobe’s shots, no matter how bad and flat, are usually very accurate, falling pretty close off the rim. Having guys in place below the rim to catch those misses takes most of the edge off of Kobe’s ball-hoggery. But when nobody is getting rebounds, our offense turns into a 1-and-done machine, and that’s how we get behind in games. In the flow of the Triangle offense, guys are always in a position to rebound missed shots; there should never be a case in which no one is in position near the rim to corral misses. But Kobe is taking way too many shots in isolation outside of the flow of the offense, which only causes more frustration on the part of his teammates, and for some reason, further fuels Kobe’s desire to play 1-on-1.


  15. This idea that Bynum can’t play well with Gasol is funny to me. The best Bynum has ever played was last year alongside Gasol in January before he suffered the torn MCL. What Bynum needs to do is take off that clumsy brace and start being able to move and jump again.


  16. I’ll say the same thing I said yesterday, which goes along with those who’ve criticized the team for not running the offense properly:

    Teams need only game plan to stop Kobe, meaning force him to take bad shots; and concentrate on checking whichever of Pau or Bynum is on the blocks.

    Fisher is not a scorer, so whatever shot he takes is a bonus for the opponent. Artest has become Ben Wallace; good defense, but you do not want to see him shoot the ball; and neither Pau (this season, anyway) or Bynum are a threat away from the hoop.

    Teams can play five on two, since there really are only two places the Lakers have been scoring of late. And when Kobe is off, basically just forget about it.

    What’s frustrating is the Lakers have the tools to score, but they’re not making good use of them. Just like you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to dig a ditch, there’s no good reason for Josh Powell or Artest to ever run a play with their backs to the hoop.

    What’s made Phil a great coach is that he puts people in position to do what they can do, and doesn’t ask them to do things they can’t. This season that’s not been the case so much, though I trust he’ll get everyone on the same page (health willing) before the games that really matter begin.


  17. kobe, put the finger brace back on. $1000 please.


  18. Bynum’s played about 20 games with Gasol this season, and about 16 without.

    This season he’s averaging about 19 points and just under 12 boards a game without Gasol, and 12.5 points and 6 rebounds per game with Gasol.

    Last season through the first 30 games of the season Bynum played with Gasol, he averaged 12.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. So his rebounding is off by 2 boards a game, but his scoring would seem to be consistent with last season and I don’t think we were all pulling our hair out then.

    I’d like to see more from Bynum, but I don’t think I’m going to call the Pau/Drew combo a failure on Bynum’s part when he’s pretty close to where he was last year. Yes, improvement would be optimal, but he’s not really that far off from last year’s pace when Gasol’s in the game, and it makes sense that when Pau is out, Bynum’s numbers would jump.


  19. as chris j pointed out, phil usually lets players figure things out. and as darius pointed out, execution is lacking. so maybe a little more coaching is needed. (i wonder if rambis not being here is having an effect?). on a random note, vecsey once sent me an email calling tj simers “a hemorrhoid with legs.” this was after simers clowned him for poor sourcing. i guess they were both right!


  20. 13) Ryan,
    Yeah, Dampier is one of the frequently used examples. Clearly there are players who try harder in their contract years – who don’t really take pride in their performance (that’s human nature).

    I don’t know what percentage of the players that would be, though, because clearly a lot of them are motivated by pride/personal competitiveness/the desire for rings/the desire for approval of teammates.


  21. @exhelodrvr – I don’t mean to pick on Kaman, because I think the point about players playing better in contract years is more general. In his particular case, I distinctly remember interviews where he said that he worked out hard all summer for the first time before his contract year (as opposed to screwing around in the wilds of Michigan). I remember thinking that he didn’t look as sharp the next year, even before the injuries figured in. Maybe it was injuries that kept him from working out the second summer in a row. And I remember a more recent analysis (focusing on why the Clippers had never made the great leap many of us were expecting after Sterling opened his checkbook) where Kaman seemed to admit that he hadn’t put in the same level of work that he had in that one summer. I admit this is all pretty vague, and I could be wrong about Kaman.

    But I think the general point is still valid: leading up to a contract year, it’s pretty easy to find that motivation for that extra workout, take better care of yourself to avoid injury, and maybe add another skill (short corner three, midrange jumper, actually listening to the coach, etc.) that will help on the open market. Once you have the contract, it’s pretty natural to relax, maybe spend some of that newly gained money, maybe pay attention to things outside basketball that you neglected the previous summer.


  22. This is late, and probably not worth the double post, but I particularly want to commend Shannon Brown for hitting the “long corner three” at the end of the third quarter last night.


  23. I’ll make this point again because I think it’s important – Bynum and Pau seem to get their stats or have an impact on the game at the expense of eachother. Rarely, if ever, do they both have strong games in the same contest. That means that even if Drew is beasting it up with a big scoring night or big rebound numbers, they normally come at the expense of touches for Pau. Pau said as much when he said that he wanted the ball in his hands more about 5 games after he came back into the lineup and when Drew was still playing as if Pau had not come back yet. What makes this more troublesome to me is that Pau is a more cerebral player that will find ways to get things done. I mean, when he came back and Drew was still getting a lot of touches, Pau hit the offensive glass hard. He found ways to sneak into the paint to get himself shots. He was doing the little things that make a difference. And as talented as Drew is, he’s not that type of player (yet). Drew is still most effective as a “centerpiece” type of player that gets his numbers in traditional ways (classic post entries, lobs and shovel passes off P&R’s, dives, and dribble penetration). But, in all honesty, we want Pau to be that “centerpiece” type of player and for Drew to be the “little things/intangibles” player. And that is not happening.

    In the end, I want these two players to truly compliment eachother (and do it with the proper pecking order between the two in place) and that is what I think is missing. We don’t see the same chemistry between Drew/Pau that we see between Pau/LO or even between LO/Bynum. And, to me, that has led to less efficient offense as the teamwork just isn’t quite there. And this lack of teamwork affects the rest of the team as there is less motion, less helping from guards on our (what should be active) bigs, and less open jumpers because of that lack of help. It’s a domino effect and it starts off the post entry as that is the staple of this offense.

    Look, I’m not blaming anyone for this. Drew’s not to blame and neither is Pau. Neither is Kobe. But, when I watch the games, I see less of what made us successful last season and more of what we were in 2004 when we lost to the Pistons. Now, that 2004 team was pretty damned good – they got to the Finals. But that team was also more of an isolation team in the guise of a Triangle team. Almost all of our sets ended with an iso for Kobe or Shaq or Malone or Payton. When you have talent you can play like that and still be successful (and this current team does have talent). But to be transcendant, you have to have talent + teamwork. And so far this season, one where we’re ranked 12th in offensive efficiency, the teamwork has been too infrequent.


  24. I think another component in Bynum’s strong play last night was the urge to prove himself against the center (Bogut) who was taken #1 overall in his draft (2005).


  25. So, what exactly is the medical prognosis on Kobe’s finger? Is it supposed to get better on its own, or will he need surgery? I.e., can we expect this to be an ongoing issue till the end of the season? If it doesn’t get any better, then I fear that we’ll see at least one mini-stretch of poor-shooting games in the playoffs, which could knock the team out of a series.


    • Midnight, the healing process was expected really start in a month, but it would take several months to fully heal. That timeline is tough to judge because, unlike you or me with this injury, Kobe is aggravating it at times. The swelling comes and goes, he said last night. Surgery can help in theory, but then you are really on the shelf for a couple months, and there’s questions to how much it really speeds the process. Will it still be an issue come the playoffs or will it be well enough and will Kobe have adjusted enough to be fine? Good questions, but I would suspect he will be Kobe again by them.


  26. The accuracy required for a player to hit a mid-range jump shot, let alone 3 pointers is astounding. Consider this. The inside rim of the hoop is 18″ in diameter. The Ball is 9.54″ in diameter. If the ball lands exactly in the middle of the hoop, the distance between the skin of the ball and the hoop is 4.2″. Let’s assume that if the ball is more than 4.2″ away from dead center that the shot is more likely to miss than go in. 4.2″ is not alot of room for error. Players cannot be so accurate by measuring their shots. Rather, the accuracy comes from over 10,000 hours of repetition during which the shot is generated not by intent, but by muscle memory.

    Kobe’ problem is that while his muscles are making the same movements from memory (honed, in his case by well in excess of 10,000 hours), the splint/wrap is introducing volatility in the angle of the ball. Simply put, movement is perfect, yet he misses. To compensate, Kobe must adjust the shot. This adjustment completely negates the reliance on muscle memory. The shot is now aimed and adjusted and invariably misses.

    To be as successful as he was shortly after the injury, he must have adjusted his grip rather than the motion. The grip + constant dimension and tension of the splint allowed Kobe to maintain the same motion with good results. But something has changed in the last few games and the shot is more volatile than before. The wrap is different. Or the splint is stiffer. Or the pain is such that Kobe cannot maintain an adjusted grip. Whatever the reason, the volatility of the shot has increased. This must mean that more of his shots are off- center. The more off-centered the shot is, the more likely it is to miss.

    To refresh you of elementary trigonometry, let’s assume that that a direct line from the shooter to the middle of the basket is the adjacent side of a right triangle, the actual line from the shooter to the hoop is the hypotenous and the distance between the middle of the hoop and the actual point of contact is the opposite length (or the “error”). (with me so far?). Then we can calculate the error resulting from an incremental drift in the angle of the shot from dead center when the shot reaches the hoop. If this error is in excess of the aforementioned 4.2″, the shot is likely to miss.

    From 10 feet away (an ideal post-up turn around distance), a shot 1 degree off dead-center results in an error of 2.1″ – a make. A 20 footer, results in an error of 4.2″ – a 50/50 proposition. A three pointer of 24 feet results in a 5″ error – most likely a miss.

    Now let’s assume Kobe’s shot is off center of 2 degrees. A 10 footer is off by 4.2″. 20 footer is off by 8.4″ – barely grazing the rim. A 3 pointer is an air-ball.

    An error of 3 degrees turns even the 10 footer into a miss. Something has resulted in more of Kobe’s shots being 2 – 3 degrees off center.

    I’ve even ignored the increased velocity that long-distance shots require. This serves to magnify the errors by increasing the kinetic energy of the bouncing ball. The same error factor is more likely to result in a miss for a long shot than a short shot.

    If the volatility introduced by the splint is going to linger and be persistent, he has to change his approach.

    – He needs to go back into the post and try to get more 10 footers than continue shooting from the perimeter

    – On the perimeter, he needs to shoot more bank shots, ala Duncan. A bank shot serves to reduce the velocity and the net effect is akin to reducing the distance of the shot. (Newtonians note, this is due to friction, a frictionless system would have bank shots at the same level of accuracy as a non-bank shot).

    He could also take a week or so off and, god forbid, let his finger heal a bit.


  27. Not Charlie Rosen January 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I wonder…slightly similar situation (2 tall post players)…how did David Robinson’s numbers change when Tim Duncan joined the Spurs? Are there any comparisons between record/stats with both playing vs. one or the other out vs. when just David was there? Or how that evolved heading into David’s last year?

    I think some of the above supposition is right, that there’s only so many things that can happen around the rim on either side of the floor, and having 2 good post players doesn’t mean double the stats…Pau and Bynum have to find all the little things that they can do to complement each other, and given they’ve been together for barely one full season (actual playing time), we may just be seeing growing pains as they sort it out.

    I know, when they’re both in there, I’ve seen plenty of possessions when the two of them got in each others’ way (bringing a defender too close, creating a sort of double double-team, or assuming one or the other was the one to give help defense and so neither did), but I can think of dozens of times when Pau got the rebound (and thus the stat) because Bynum put two players on his back and boxed them out effectively, or all the offensive put-backs Pau gets because two or more defenders have piled on Drew (meaning his missed hook shot isn’t as bad as the 0-1 and 0pts. stat on it would suggest).

    Since the late 90’s Spurs are the only really comparable situation I can think of in recent times, I’m just wondering if what we’re seeing now has a precedent as “part of a process”, or is an awkwardness that will take something more active than just more time together to figure out.


  28. exhelodrvr-agreed. I’m not really advocating one way or the other, it’s just an interesting question. I’m actually kind of surprised that no one’s done an exhaustive statistical study on whether the “contract year” phenomenon exists. It seems like it would be relatively easy to measure if one had all the data.

    Any enterprising grad students out there?


  29. lakersfansincemagic January 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    To be great, you have to push yourself over the limit. That’s what Kobe’s doing and I’m fine with that.


  30. Bill, that was a fantastic post. Well done.


  31. Darius at 25 sums up everything I’d want to say on that issue way better than I could


  32. Darius well said, that’s pretty much how I feel about Bynum, love the kid but we need to see this effort every night to compliment Gasol who is THE MAN down low or it’s time to move him. In the end in a sense of basketball knowledge I just don’t see it working.


  33. Darius,

    I think you make a very valid point. I just think that with where our bigs are, in terms of maturity within the game, we might find the team plays better when Gasol is rarely the focal point.
    Kobe will be Kobe and Bynum is still basketball young and needs to learn to feel the game more organically. You get guys with the talents and smarts of an Pau, LO and Artest filling the gaps, I think the team can dominate offensively and have lots and lot of energy to smother teams defensively. Couple that with the performances from WOW, Farmar, Luke and (one hopes) Sasha getting more consistent, I think the team will be fine.

    Please, we are feeding the 4 letter troll with this Bosh speculation. Now we get Ford or some other of these writers speculating on the speculated offer that could make sense if the teams actually wanted or needed to make a move, which is also speculation. Call me when it’s consummated. I’m speculating I’ll get as many rings on an unlisted phone.


  34. I think Bynum just isn’t sure how to fit in when he isn’t getting the ball as a focus. Then he knows to put the peddle to the metal and go for broke, but when he’s not the focal point he doesn’t yet understand how to support with that same energy. Instead he thinks he’s supposed to back off and watch as Pau goes for 20 and 15. And frankly that can be a difficult thing for a young man who hasn’t had to try to carry a team by himself to figure out.

    EVERY other major component on this team (Kobe, Pau, LO, Artest) has been in that situation where they were the man on teams that competed for years with limited success and they understand how to mold themselves into the unit better. And that situation has made them appreciate the ability to allow others to dominate on the team (yes, even Kobe, though less so).

    Young Kobe had to learn similar lessons, but this is the difference between Kobe and Bynum. Young Kobe’s instincts were still to go balls out and if people had a problem with it he’d deal with that- and ultimately in most years’ playoffs he knew his role perfectly. Maybe after the allstar game is in the books Bynum will just focus on the same things.


  35. Not Charlie Rosen – That’s an interesting comparison. I don’t have stats or anything, but qualitatively speaking, I do remember that in the early 2000s, Robinson reinvented himself as a defensive-first player. So really, the Spurs case emphasizes what we already know – Bynum’s greatest value (with Gasol) is when he maxes his defensive and rebounding potential.

    The key difference is Robinson was a veteran. Drew is young and trying to establish himself. It’s hard to fault him for that, to be honest – I remember a recent Kobe quote where he admitted that, when he was younger, he looked for his points because he was worried about establishing himself in the discussion of greatness. Now that his legacy is established, he (and likewise, Robinson) can fill in the areas needed to win. Drew is young and doesn’t have that maturity, which is why we’re not maxing out our double 7-footers like the Spurs did.


  36. P. Ami,
    I disagree with your statement that we may play better if Gasol is not the focal point. Pau is the player that operates within the Triangle at a high level. He’s the guy that reads the cutters. He’s the guy that commands the double team, has the patience to accept the second defender, and then make the correct basketball play to help our team. Not that Pau doesn’t have flaws, but he’s the guy that helped our offense reach an efficiency level and fluidness that was not here before his arrival. Bynum is getting there, but he’s not there yet.

    As I mentioned in my post about Bynum a couple of weeks ago, Bynum is still a player that focusses (mostly) on how he can get his. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (I love that he *can* get his and has developed into a pretty reliable post threat). But that (gunner-ish mentality) creates a trickle down effect for how efficient our offense can be – because even if Bynum plays at an efficient level (he does) what makes this offense elite is creating easier opportunities for others based off your own efficiency (i.e. drawing extra defenders and getting your ‘mates open shots).

    So, in the end, while letting Bynum do his thing may get this team a more engaged and active player, what is the tradeoff? Less touches for a just as efficient (and even more helpful to his teammates) player in Gasol? Less easy opportunities for our guards and wings because they’re creating shots for themselves (like Farmar/WOW shooting pull up jumpers in the half court) rather than our bigs creating shots for them? I mean, this is what I’m seeing and while I’m not mad about it, I’m not ecstatic about the results either.

    But, like I said, I don’t blame Andrew. He’s young and he’s learning to play this game at it’s highest level. He’s playing for a contender and doesn’t have the luxury of dealing with growing pains that other young players do. I have full confidence that he’ll continue to build on his already strong play and become a stud in this league. That said, I do think that Pau is the clear #2 on this team and that, to a certain extent, Drew needs to find his way on this current team and find ways to compliment the players (Kobe/Pau) that are the foundation for a championship team. I’ve said it before, but Bynum could get 15-18 points a game on post lane sprints, P&R’s on the secondary break, put backs, and limited post touches. He could read defenses and dive from the weakside and create short post up chances when Pau is Iso’d on the other side of the court. He can do the little things, still help this team, and push it to supernova level just by complimenting the game(s) of the guys that are more proven in this league. I don’t mean to preach here and I reiterate that Bynum is young and some of this stuff will come with more experience. But, I stand by the fact that this is a Kobe/Pau team – the Lakers have gotten to the Finals in back to back years on their backs – and if you’re going to be on this team I think you need to try to maximize the success of the team by finding ways to play off of those guys and finding your niche. Bynum’s about half way there so far (and it’s a testament to his talent that even though his game is not completely meshing with Pau’s that he’s still doing as well as he is).


  37. 28, yay, nothing excites me as a math grad student more than some real life geometry. Goes to show how far muscle memory can take humans, to get within 1 degree of error for a large amount of attempts.

    Since the injury is on his index finger, he is losing a good deal of his balance against his ring finger, but he’s also losing a lot of power to judge the depth of his shots. He’s compensating for this lack of power using his middle finger, which is further de-stabilizing his shot due to its location as an unstable equilibrium point on the ball (if you push with just one finger, the ball will almost certainly turn in one direction or the other, not go straight). The index and ring fingers are supposed to mitigate this, but Kobe can’t exactly use one of those.

    I would contend that this is probably the biggest issue in Kobe’s shot: compensating for the lack of power and counterbalance to his ring finger that his index finger used to provide.


  38. Re: Bynum and Gasol sitting in a Tree…

    For the entire month of January lasts season including the first week before Bynum really started shaking off the rust Andrew averaged 17.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg, while shooting 58.8 % from the field. That is also including the game against Memphis where he only played 5 min before leaving with the torn MCL.

    In that same month Gasol averaged 20.8 ppg, 4.8 assists, 10.9 rpg, on 58.6 percent shooting from the field. They as always were sharing the basketball with hall of fame scorer Kobe Bryant. I would like to see another combination of C and PF put up better numbers in a month playing alongside a scoring champion guard. The question in my opinion isn’t if Bynum and Gasol can coexist (after all… Gasol is a finesse and perimeter oriented PF who is more comfortable facing up and Bynum is a back to the basket banger) … the real question is if Bynum can stay healthy and get his bounce back in his legs. That might come hand in hand with getting rid of that clunker of a brace that limits his mobility and movement.

    There is no question though that this season playing without the same explosion Andrew has shown us in the past Drew needs the basketball more often in one on one situations in the post to score. So of course playing without the Lakers #2 scorer helps his touches. He hasn’t been able to play as well without the ball this season.


  39. Regarding the Spurs, I remember David Robinson took a step back and allowed Tim Duncan to become the focal point. Back then Tim was still playing PF and would often get the ball 10 to 15 ft from the rim and go to work. David basically cleaned up Tim’s misses on offense, and pull down boards. But defensively they were stellar. I still remember one of the ’99 Finals games where Patrick Ewing had to feel like he was being swarmed by hive of killer bees. Tim and David were relentless. I would love to see more of that from Andrew and Pau.

    We all know Drew taking a step back for Gasol to be the focal point basically means Drew will disappear. I remember during the 3-peat years Phil Jackson would always hate the Kobe/McGrady comparisons. He said they could not be compared because the had different roles. As a second option Kobe had a role that could shift on a nightly basis. Some nights he had to facilitate and get shots for guys like Fox and Horry. Other nights Shaq would catch foul trouble and Kobe had to shoulder the scoring load. Back then Kobe had the most complicated role on the team.

    I said that to say maybe Pau Gasol needs to fill a similar role. If someone has to adjust logic tells us the team would be better off if that someone was Gasol. Zephid’s point about Pau adjusting to Drew getting most of the post touches by doing extra things is a great one. It may be in the best interest of the team for him to take on the kind of role for the long term.

    We are fooling ourselves if we think Bynum can “step back” and still be effective. He is not that mature of a ball player yet.


  40. Funny Lebron story by Ben over at BE, starting with the paragraph “Nearly two hours before the game…”



  41. The shooting woes are going to continue for KB as long as his finger is not 100 percent. LA fans are going to have to deal with the slumps as long as his game is jumpshots. This year and in the future, #24 is more or less of a high volume jumpshooter from 15 feet and out, not the slasher who can get to the rim and take a higher percentage shoot closer to the basket or get to the free throw line. He studied low post moves in the summer for a reason.To get himself closer to the basket without having to beat his man one on one with the dribble, giving him almost the same high percentage shot. The young KB with the fresh legs beating his man to the spot and challenging whomever is in is way at the rim is over, except on a good night. In years past the finger situation might not have been that big of a concern, if your getting half your points in the the paint. But when your getting the majority of your points from jumpshots, a bad finger is going to cause a lot of offnights that will drive the LA faithful mad and cost the team some games in the long run.

    Now more than ever, KB needs to trust his teamates to make the shot he creates for them by the other teams double and triple teams. There is no way if he continues to shoot at this low percentage that he believes that his 3 fingered jump shot is better than a teammates open look. Im probably wishing on a star, but it doest hurt to rant when our best player is in a bad shooting slump. Im hoping some LA fan, into voodoo, has sent him the the chicken bone to ward off all evil spirits on that finger. If not Im going to see if my local community college has Voodoo 101 on its course sign up for the spring semester.


  42. Darius,
    I’ll just rely on what I consider to be your more informed sense of basketball. My point is based on interpreting what I am seeing of the team, which I think JD Hastings is seeing as well. I just wonder if Pau is better positioned, because of his mature game, to effect the offense intangibly while letting Bynum power up on what he, with his less mature view of the game, can do for the team. When Pau first got back from the right hammy injury, within a few game, I saw him feeding the post in ways that I hadn’t seen since Horry and Fox. The Lakers have two of the best post player in the game and I sometimes wonder what Farmar and Sasha practice on when working on feeding the big dogs. Is it really a waste if Pau feeds Bynum and then makes the cut so he can receive a pass or crash the boards? Could he perhaps see the secondary and tertiary options from his eyes at 7 foot level then maybe a Farmar at his? I also remember seeing Pau hit lots of jumpers from the high post, and more interestingly, the international 3 line during Spain’s run to the Euro Chip last Summer. Like I said, you are better positioned to consider what the team loses by trying to make Bynum #2 and Pau #3 then I am.

    On another point. Rondo is hitting 3’s lately, his FG% is not dropping and his FT% is rising. This is very bad.


  43. P. Ami,
    I know what you mean and what you say has a lot of merit. Pau does have the more malleable game and a more diverse skill set. So, in a sense, he is the better candidate to find a role that compliments Bynum rather than vice versa. I also think that like any other relationship, success is best found on the middle ground where both people compromise some of what they want in order to reach group goals.

    In essence, I agree with what you’re saying in that Pau that can change. However, I still do think that Bynum does need to adapt as well. His game can not go unchanged with others adapting to him because that will not lead to team success. ‘Drew may succeed in achieving personal milestones, but the team will not be maximized. In order for the team to reach its peak both players must lean to compliment each other and they must both find more ways to help each other on the court and help their games flourish.


  44. And as talented as Drew is, he’s not that type of player (yet). Drew is still most effective as a “centerpiece” type of player that gets his numbers in traditional ways (classic post entries, lobs and shovel passes off P&R’s, dives, and dribble penetration).


    That’s right, which is why I think my idea in #6 is a good one. When Bynum is on the floor with Pau AND Kobe, I think they should use Pau some in the high post with Kobe on the wing.


  45. Darius,
    My only thought on what you are saying, I imagine that Drew will be better able to adjust once he establishes his basic skills. I think of it as getting the fundamentals and then building on that. It could take a season or two but I think Drew would eventually learn to do the little things as the game slows down for him and rather then retard his growth, letting him do what he does well will serve to give him the confidence to grow into a mature or well rounded player.


  46. Pau is injured. Walton is injured. Our bench is underachieving. Kobe is shooting more with less efficiency and his finger is broken. Bynum is inconsistent and is hearing trade rumors. Fisher, to most fans, can no longer play basketball.

    With all the Lakers’ “problems” the Lakers are 5th in the league in scoring. They are 9th in the league in points allowed. Have the best point differential in the league. And have the best record in the league.

    And they still get to go on the road to bond Artest with the rest of the group. Pau is coming back. Walton is coming back. And Kobe, even with the finger, is leading the league in scoring (though i’m not sure if thats a positive for the lakers as a team).

    I’m glad I’m not a Clippers fan.


  47. Great points, I’ll focus on this one re: Kobe:

    “There is no way if he continues to shoot at this low percentage that he believes that his 3 fingered jump shot is better than a teammates open look. Im probably wishing on a star, but it doest hurt to rant when our best player is in a bad shooting slump.”

    Whether or not it hurts, the LAT live chat bloggers are ranting! When Kobe is shooting 18% and missing 17 shots a game, he needs to PASS THE F*G BALL.

    Period. Nobody really cares why he can’t shoot well, we just want to win.


  48. re pau and bynum. to think that the two players will figure it out on their own is part of the solution – but not all. it’s hard to complain too much with the #1 record, but i think it’s time for phil to get involved on some level. is kareem still with the team or is he now fully involved with the griz? maybe he could help bynum…