Master Movements – Part II

Darius Soriano —  August 30, 2010

Jan. 22, 2010 - New York, China - (100123) -- NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2010 (Xinhua) -- Kobe Bryant (R) of Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball during the NBA basketball game against New York Knicks in New York, the United States, Jan. 22, 2010. Lakers won 115-105.. (Xinhua/Shen Hong.

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.

In our previous posts, we’ve discussed how Kobe’s use of fundamentals help shape his game and greatly contribute to his offensive success.  We’ve shown how footwork plays a major role in his ability to create space and shots.  And we’ve also shown how Kobe creates scoring opportunities by building one move off of another and basing it all off his ability to shoot his jumper from the outside.  In our latest installment, we show the next progression of creating shots by combining the threat of his jumper, tremendous footwork, and innovation.

I think we can all agree that Kobe is one of the most tactical basketball players around.  We’ve all heard the story of Kobe picking up Tim Duncan’s bank shot while practicing during with the Spurs’ big man during the 2004 All-Star weekend or how he spent last summer with Hakeem learning some of the Dream’s epic post moves.  So, thinking and playing in a tactical manner is nothing new for #24 as he’s always looking to add to his game and if you’re going to steal you do it from the best.  However, one aspect of Kobe’s game that has helped him reach the pinnacle of the sport is his innovation; his ability to think outside of the box and dream up moves that he can turn into real life actions on the court.

And I don’t think any move that we’ve seen Kobe make exemplifies this more than his pump-fake/reverse pivot move that he’s adopted in recent years.  In the video below, Kobe walks us through this move and shows us all exactly how to execute it.

There are two points that I take from Kobe’s explanation in the above clip.  First is how he’s able to find ways to counteract even the best defenders’ adjustments.  Kobe speaks about how some defenders have found ways to contest shots by not leaving their feet and instead body him in order to stop him from stepping through the defender in a typical manner.  However as Kobe shows in the clip, he’s now found a way to still get by that defender (without a dribble, mind you) by pivoting away from the defender and still creating space.  The second thing that sticks out to me is that Kobe’s always (at least partially) focusing on the second defender.  We’ve mentioned this before, but you don’t become an elite scorer in the NBA if you aren’t able to beat the second level of the defense.  Whether it’s a perimeter player like Kobe or a post player like Gasol, beating the second defender is crucial to offensive success and Kobe shows us again that this is never really off his mind.

What’s most impressive about this move, though, is how Kobe is able to find counters almost instantly and escape what could be considered a vulnerable offensive position and turn it into a viable scoring chance.  You can’t really tell in the clip because Kobe’s going about half speed and the entire clip is set up in a way where the movement is accentuated to make a point, but when you see this move live it’s quite impressive because the entire thing happens in a matter of seconds.  In the clip below, you see how Kobe was able to execute this move against the Knicks on the night that he went for 61 in Madison Square Garden.

And in the clip below, you can see that even against a bigger defender (Kenyon Martin, in this case) Kobe is able to create enough space to generate a good look at the hoop while concentrating through the slight body bump that Martin delivers when he tries to contest the shot.

Again, this move is great because it builds on the rest of Kobe’s arsenal.  Every defender knows that even at his advanced age that Kobe has a good enough first step to drive.  Defenders also know that Kobe is one of the best jump shooters in the league – especially off the dribble.  So Kobe now has established that he can drive effectively and shoot in both spot up and off the dribble situations, essentially leaving the defense in a very difficult position.  However, even when bottled up, Kobe has developed enough counters to escape and create good looks for himself or his teammates.

Darius Soriano

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