Master Movements

Darius Soriano —  August 21, 2010

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (L) drives to the basket on Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen in the first quarter during Game 4 of the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts June 10, 2010. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

In this post, we continue our look at Kobe Bryant and how his commitment to fundamentals has helped make him the player that he is today.

As we’ve stated in previous posts, it’s easy to appreciate Kobe Bryant.  He typically makes at least one jaw dropping play a game that gets Lakers fans and opponents fans alike out of there seats and in awe of what he just did.  I’ve argued before that Kobe is one of the most fundamentally sound players in the game and that his footwork is the foundation for his ability to play the game at the level that he does.  And when you combine his footwork with his ridiculous ability to hit tough shots, you get one of the all time great offensive players that can seemingly do anything he wants on the offensive side of the ball.  And while this ability to hit tough shots can sometimes lead to thoughts of wildness and outside of the box play, I’m a firm believer that Kobe’s game is rooted in fundamental basketball (with a flare for pushing the envelope) and that it’s all the little things – the minute details – that drive Kobe’s game and make him the all around threat that he is.

So today, I share with you a few videos on Kobe’s attention to detail when dealing with everyday offensive situations.  We start with getting open on the wing and executing a catch and shoot jumper.

The threat of Kobe’s jumper is probably his greatest strength as an offensive player.  With nearly unlimited range on his jump shot, a potential made basket is only a flick of the wrist away and Kobe uses that to his advantage when defenders are force to play him on an island.  Notice how Kobe speaks of getting into the triple threat position and then using his jab step as a way of feeling out the defender before he makes his move.  This is why we often see Kobe hold the ball a bit more than we’d all like, but it’s all for a purpose – he’s evaluating all levels of the defense and then deciding what his next move should be.

Next, we see how Kobe uses the threat of his jumper to his advantage by then using his first step to drive by an opponent to get to the basket.

Kobe may not have the lightning first step that he had during his younger days, but that does not mean that’s he no longer a threat to drive to the basket.  At this point in his career, rather than just catching the ball and attempting to drive right by a defender, Kobe often uses his array of jab steps, ball fakes, and hesitation dribbles to get to the rim.  Notice how in the video Kobe speaks about disregarding the primary defender almost immediately.  Understand that when the offensive player is a key focus of a defense’s scheme (as Kobe is), it’s often the secondary (help) defender that can cause the most problems on any given play.  The awareness that Kobe shows when saying that he’s reading the second defender and using that players’ positioning to decide on what side of the basket he should attempt to finish his shot is also something that should be noted.  Kobe literally has multiple decisions to make in the matter of fractions of a second in order for a play to be successful or not.  The fact that he so often chooses right is what makes him special.

Finally, we see what is probably Kobe’s most feared weapon: his pull up jumper.

Executing a pull up jumper at the proficiency that Kobe does is what makes him such a fantastic offensive player.  As the video shows, Kobe is taking into account every little detail when evaluating what he should do on any given play.  He’s reading the body of the primary defender, he’s then moving his eyes to the help defender, he’s looking at his teammates to see if someone flashes open…really he’s just examining the entire floor and looking for an option that will deliver a made basket.  There are few players that can shoot this shot the way that Kobe can.  He’s very strong going either left or right.  He’s just as good using one dribble to get to his spot as he is using multiple dribbles.  He can easily find his rhythm, set his feet, and establish the necessary balance to execute this shot at any given time.  As he relays in the clip, this is the shot that truly makes him a versatile offensive player and the shot that most puts defenders in a position where they’re guessing what’s going to come next.

As we’ve been saying for our entire series of posts, Kobe is truly a fantastic offensive player.  He’s a force with the ball and his variety of moves once he makes a catch is unmatched amongst perimeter players in the league.  Sure, other players may be better shooters or better drivers or even better finishers once they get into the paint.  But no player (although Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant are very close), show the variety of offensive moves and the complete offensive games that Kobe does when working from the wing.  Enjoy watching this guy, folks as it’s pretty rare to see this type of talent with this attention to detail execute the fundamentals of perimeter basketball.  We truly are lucky to watch #24 night in and night out.


Darius Soriano

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