It’s been true for the majority of his career, but now more than ever Kobe Bryant is a technician on offense. As he’s aged and his first step isn’t as explosive as it was 5 years ago, Kobe’s adapted his game to include all the subtleties that you’d expect from one of the most dedicated students of the game.
When you watch Kobe play now, you’ll notice that he’s no longer simply blowing by opponents off the dribble and throwing down monster dunks. Instead of using his dribble to set up opponents where he’s crossing over a Derrick Rose or Deron Williams, he’s works almost exclusively out of the triple threat where he uses an assortment of jab steps and ball fakes to get his defender off balance before he attacks. And when he does go off the dribble, you’ll notice that he uses a lot of change of pace and direction dribbles – hesitating or going behind his back – to shake free before he flashes a perfectly executed pivot or shot fake to leave his opponent guessing which move is next. And when he’s not looking to leave a defender in his dust, he’s punishing him with his power – backing down his man like a power forward would when trying to bury a defender under the basket.
This version of Kobe is still so effective, but also so different than the one we watched even 5 years ago. But don’t take my word for it, see it for yourself in the video below (h/t to LD2K for finding this gem). And when you watch it, I hope you appreciate how good he actually is at getting that separation that every great scorer craves. His use of footwork, for any a player at any position, is probably unparalleled in the league today.