Is Dwight Howard Undervalued?

J.M. Poulard —  August 15, 2012

The question posed in the title might seem utterly ridiculous given that it’s a widely accepted fact that the former Magic big man is the best center in the league and also perhaps arguably the second or third best player in the NBA.

Many will readily admit that he is the standard by which all active defensive players should be measured and that no one does a better job of fighting for position and tracking down rebounds during games in addition to his offensive responsibilities. Thus, Dwight Howard is an elite player; and once again, many are quite fine with this notion.

But here’s the problem: when it’s time to quantify that, he tends to get shortchanged. Sounds preposterous right? Well have a look at the MVP voting in the past few seasons and it paints a perfect picture of how undervalued the best center in the game is.

One can forgive the fact that Howard came up 7TH in voting for the 2011-12 season given the fact he missed a small chunk of the season and kind of turned off voters because of his trade demand — although one could argue that his request should in no way affect his candidacy — but what about his previous seasons?

He finished the 2010-11 regular season second in MVP votes to Derrick Rose, but one could make the case that he would have finished third if LeBron James wasn’t carrying a huge bull’s eye on his back that stemmed from the Decision and the Miami Heat welcome party.

The 2009-10 season saw D12 finish fourth in voting behind LeBron James (winner), Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant respectively.

And if we look back to the 2008-09 season, the former Defensive Player of the Year finished fourth again behind LeBron James (winner), Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade in that specific order.

This is not to say that Howard should have won the Maurice Podoloff trophy in three of the past four seasons, but perhaps he should have obtained more votes and finished higher than where he eventually landed. Granted, voting occasionally comes down to biases — a voter that resides on the east coast may have more chances to watch a player from the Eastern Conference than one in the Western Conference — as well as other subjective requirements that make it tough to accurately gauge who should win the Most Valuable Player award.

But in this case, the argument isn’t that Howard should have won, but rather that more consideration should have been thrown his way.

Normally, when voting for the award, it’s impossible not to look at the player’s production, his contribution to his team and obviously the team’s overall record. Typically, fans and voters alike look for a player to be one of the best in the league, to be dominant in games and to lead his team to somewhere along the lines of a top five record in the NBA. It’s not a perfect science, but this partly explains why LeBron James has won three out of the past four MVP trophies, and why Derrick Rose won the award at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.

But if we look deeper, we’ll notice that Howard’s performance in the past four seasons was more than worthy of finishing in the top three in voting.

During the 2008-09 regular season, Howard led the league in rebounds per game and blocks per game all the while putting up 20.6 points per game for an Orlando Magic team that finished with an impressive 59-23 record (fourth best record in the league).

His brilliant defense combined with his presence on offense allowed an Orlando Magic team to not only have one of the best records in the league but also to make it all the way to the NBA Finals before falling at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Given that the Cleveland Cavaliers finished with a 66-17 record and that the Lakers finished with a 65-17 record, one can understand why LeBron James and Kobe Bryant finished first and second respectively in voting. Both were playing at the top of their games with teams that finished with the two best records in the league.

Mind you, the Miami Heat finished with a mediocre at best 43-39 record on the strength of Dwyane Wade’s superhuman performance that season as he finished second to LeBron James in player efficiency ranking thanks to his Jerry West-like statistical line of 30.2 points per game, 5 rebounds per game and 7.5 assists per game on 49.1 percent field goal shooting.

Clearly a case can be made that Wade’s impressive season could warrant supplanting Howard’s; but Dwight’s team won 16 more games and the current Lakers’ center was an overall plus-6.7 that season in terms of plus-minus rating (according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool) whereas the player formerly known as Flash was a mere plus-0.3. Although D12 should have gotten the nod, one can understand why Wade got more votes given his great performance that season.

If we jump to the 2009-10 regular season, Howard somehow got lost in the shuffle and finished fourth in MVP voting. LeBron James won his second Maurice Podoloff award on the strength of his Cavaliers having the best record in the league all the while submitting the best PER in the NBA.

Kevin Durant finished second in the voting with the Oklahoma City Thunder going 50-32 and earning the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. KD led the league in scoring that season and also submitted good rebounding numbers, which in the mind of many made him a stud that OKC could not do without. The Thunder forward finished the season with a plus-3.5 plus-minus rating, mind you his defense at the time needed some work.

The case for Durant was a relatively good one at the time it seemed, but sometimes the benefit of hindsight can help give some perspective. Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers had the best third best record in the league while the Black Mamba played to his usual standards as he submitted a cool 27, 5 and 5 line for the season and enjoyed his last season as an at times elite level defender. His great defensive energy came in spurts during the regular season and showed up during the playoffs, but Bryant was clearly a top player in that season and perhaps should have finished higher than Durant in MVP voting given the multiple facets in which he affected games (scoring, playmaking and defense).

But one thing that is definitely clear is that Howard should have cruised to second place once all the votes had been accumulated at the end of the 2009-10 season. The perennial All-Star once again led the league in rebounds per game as well as blocks per game and provided his stellar brand of defense as usual and led the Orlando Magic to the second best record in the league. Much like he is today, he was a matchup nightmare and a player that often had to be doubled in order to limit the damage he did on the interior against opponents. And keep in mind, much like he had for most of his career, D12 appeared in all 82 regular season games and yet finished fourth in the voting.

In addition, one can easily make the claim that no one did more with less in terms of talent than both LeBron James and Dwight Howard during this stretch. Both players had to maximize the talent of those around them regardless of how poor it was and yet they respectively led their teams in 2010 to the two best records in the league despite glaring weaknesses on their squads as well as the fact that they constantly had to play at a high level for their teams to be competitive even against some of the weaker teams in the NBA. And somehow James was crowned as the most valuable player in basketball whereas Dwight was nothing more than afterthought.

Considering Dwight Howard’s level of production in recent seasons and the almost surreal level at which he defends, it seems awfully silly to sit here and regurgitate the fact that he has been at least for the past three or four seasons one of the three best players in the league and that his high level of play has not only kept the Magic contending for playoff appearances but also put them in the top echelon of teams judging by their overall record of 207-105 (66.4 percent winning percentage) in the last four seasons. And yet, it seems necessary to throw out reminders given that few seem to have recognized this.

Perhaps the issue is not Howard himself, but rather how fans, media members and other players view the league as a whole. Indeed, it’s easier to appreciate a perimeter player’s game given the beauty, grace, aesthetics and polish that one can directly see in it. Thus, watching the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade operate on a basketball court is far more enjoyable for most than observing Dwight Howard battle on the block for post position, rebounding position and what have you. In addition, there is a stigma associated to centers, where more just seems to always be expected.

Consider this tidbit, in the last 20 NBA seasons, only three centers have been crowned as the league MVP (Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal), with the most recent one getting awarded in the spring of 2000 (O’Neal).

It may not be fair, but in order for Howard to ever get great consideration for the prestigious individual honor, he may have to surpass the terrific level of play he has given fans and the league in recent seasons.

But there may be an ace in the hole for the former Olympian: should he produce at the same rate during the 2012-13 season that he has in the past and that the Los Angeles Lakers win somewhere between 60 and 69 games, voters might not be able to ignore D12 anymore considering that he would be doing it on a juggernaut and in a huge market.

I have this saying that I like to use: “win, lose or draw; everything is always bigger with the Lakers”.

And Dwight Howard might just be the one to prove it…

Statistical support provided by NBA.com

J.M. Poulard

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124 responses to Is Dwight Howard Undervalued?

  1. Dwight Howard’s stay with Magic for 8 years has no career path, his best moments were the ASG’s, Olympics and ’09 Finals against the Lakers. He was overshadowed by Lebron, KG, Kobe because of Championships and MVP. Today, it is a different story now that he’s a Laker, it elevated his status as a Superstar with personality. The only hindrance would be his health issues on recent back surgery. If he’s well, then he could follow Shaq’s future jersey at the Staple rafters.

    I have said this before even when Howard was flip flopping with his decision making. Lakers should have been his target from Day One, nothing to be afraid of Kobe of being the #2 option or to Nash as #3….they are his pole vaults that will catapult him to greater fame and fortune. Five years from now, how many of these players would be playing except Howard? This would be his team in three year’s time. What he needs to do now is dedication and emulate or beat the hell of former Centers before him like: Mikan, Chamberlain, Jabbar and Shaq. Don’t be afraid in following their career path, because this is a sure path of success. Like a Lion on the jungle, he has to roar louder and dominate post plays and help Kobe, Nash, Gasol win games.

  2. I think that by definition, if he’s widely considered to be a top-5 player, and in the MVP conversation every season, he can’t be considered undervalued.

  3. Dwight Howard is underated. The only person in the NBA that should have a higher trade value then Howard is Lebron James. You are an automatic 50 win playoff team if he is on your squad, regardless of the other players, how many people in the NBA can say that? I understand the circumstances were different but the fact that New York and New Orleans got 90 cents and 85 cents on the dollar respectively for Anthony and Paul shows you what a horrible deal Orlando got.

  4. Am I the only one who thinks Dwight will have the best season of his career next season?

    We will be the new Lob City in LA with D12 and Nash.

  5. He’s won DPOY too, right?

    So no, I don’t think he is undervalued. Maybe not given full credit to those that watch him 24/7, but I’m sure the same case could be made for any player – even LeBron.

  6. I think the general consensus is that a healthy, engaged Howard is the 2nd-best player in the NBA. His rep is bad right now and there are the questions about his back, but I don’t see him as “undervalued.” Other teams’ fans are intensely po’d that the Lakers acquired him, and that tells you something right there.

  7. DH- 51 wins 20 pts 14 reb 2 blks 0 MVPs

    LBJ- 55 wins 28 pts 7 reb 7 ast 3 MVPs

    For Dwight to put up those numbers and not win a MVP is shocking. From the voters standpoint I think he is undervalued he should be placing 1st or 2nd in every MVP vote. And if LeBron doesn’t get it he should be next in line.

    The impact he had on Orlando making them a formidable defensive team with that lineup is undervalued. No All NBA teammates just shot chuckers who’s first, second and third priorities are to score.

    It’ll be fun to watch Dwight get 15 rebs and 3 blks this year.

  8. Can we all agree that Dwight Howard is now the best player on our team?

    And Dwight has never been undervalued; his trade value went down in ORL with his fiasco, and his reputation is damaged, yes, but he’s been considered the best big man in the NBA and the best defensive player in the league–so he is not undervalued, in the sense that he is recognized for his talents.

    It’s become a perimeter players’ game; so when you see the likes of LeBron James/Durant/Kobe going up against each other they are much more appreciated than DH, who’s biggest competition is probably the guy who was traded for him– Andrew Bynum. So in certain context, yes, he is undervalued/underappreciated.

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=5f5qZh2C_Sg

    Nash vs Rubio – good watch to see Nash PnR skills but also his defensive deficiencies against good Pgs

  10. #3 Denver & New Orleans not NY & NO

  11. Howard is not undervalued. He is generally recognized as one of the best 3 or 4 players in the game. The problem with dwight is that he does not always peform well when matched up against other centers that he can’t physically overpower. Look at his matchups with Yao and Shaq over the years and you will see that he hasn’t performed well. Still, he is one of the top players in the game and hopefully will return to his full abilities once his back heals.

  12. JMP: Interesting argument but incorrect. Hard core fans know that most casual fans overvalue scoring when evaluating players. They often overlook defensive contributions. Also, not all of a player’s contributions can be found in box scores. Thus, any award that is given by voters based on their “impressions” will be heavily skewed to offensive players.

    The problem with advanced stats is deciding which one to use. Many sabermatricians know that Hollinger’s PER is pretty worthless since it relies so much on a player’s playing time and only on box scores (see Antoine Walker).

    The adjusted plus/minus (APM) is based on the idea that good players will help their team score more/give up fewer points when they are on the court. However, this model is also flawed. APM produced statistically significant results less than 40% of the time. A player’s APM one year frequently does not predict the following year’s APM, even when teammates and coaches remain the same. Despite trying to control for teammates, APM still reflects other players’ influence.

    Wins Shares (WS) model seems to be the most accurate in predicting a team’s performance. Thus, based on WS scores for 2008/09, the MVP should have been:
    1) LBJ*
    2) Paul
    3) Wade
    4) Pau Gasol
    5) Howard.

    For 2009/10, the WS MVP race would have been:
    1) LBJ*
    2) Durant
    3) Howard
    4) Wade
    5) Nowitzki

    For 2010/11, the race would have been:
    1) LBJ
    2) Gasol
    3) Howard
    4) Paul
    5) Rose*

    While Howard is a defensive star (he was #1 in defensive WS all 3 years), his offensive inefficiency, based largely on his atrocious FT%, drags down his value. Howard has never been the MOST valuable player. He is, in fact, accurately valued.

    Interestingly, if you notice, Kobe NEVER appears in the top 5 at all. Pau, on the other hand, appears twice. I’ve always valued Pau’s contributions more than Kobe’s, even though Kobe is PERCEIVED as being more valuable. This is why the best part of the Howard trade was NOT losing Pau.

  13. Watcing Miami-Indiana Series game 3.

    Looking at our present roster, there is no way this Miami team can hang around them.

    I think They got real lucky, OKC has so much young legs against the lakers. I am starting to believe that should the Lakers got past the west last season, they would have taken home the championship over the same Miami Heat squad.

  14. WS is another way of spewing Kobe hatred.Blatantly flawed towards box score.

  15. This is a very interesting question which hits very close to home. Home being among Laker fans. D12 is CLEARLY the best player on the Lakers. Yet, the team is still suppose to revolve around Kobe. Think about that. Now a case can be made for the team to revolve around Nash, since he’s the point, but why Kobe at this stage of his career IF Laker fans believe Howard is one of the top 3, 4, or 5 players in the NBA?

    I don’t think even the most delusional Kobe fan still believes Kobe is a top 4 player in the league at this stage of his career. Not with the likes of players like LeBron, Durrant, D-12, & CP3 around.

    So is D-12 undervalued? Laker fans, no check that, Kobe worshipers it’s time for a reality check.

    Personally I’ve been there before. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is my favorite all-time player, even before he was a Laker. Kareem, at age 32 was the MVP of the league in Magic’s rookie season. Kareem averaged 32 points & 12 rebounds in the post-season, Magic a near triple-double (18/10/9.5) as they went on to win their their 1st title since Wilt-West won one in ’72. Magic was voted MVP of the Finals and as they say…the rest is history.

    Kareem understood, so did a 32 year old 10 time All-Star David Robinson when Tim Duncan joined his Spurs. Something that an aging Patrick Ewing never understood. Having the ability to make good basketball related decisions is also a part of being an all-time great player.

    Teams are built around & revolve around their best player. Time for all (including Kobe) to recognize…if you are truly interested in winning.

  16. Did you guys hear the crowd ROAR when Andrew said he was looking forward to making Philly his home?????

    That was quite refreshing. He looked happy in a way he NEVER was in LA. That was beautiful to see.

  17. It feels kinda weird to see discussion regarding a Laker player not named Kobe that could easily win an MVP.

    @9- watching Dudley and Grant Hill get all those open midrange jumpers created by Nash drives to the lane makes me feel like Kobe is going to have one hell of a season. Those are looks Kobe rarely ever gets.

  18. There is no question Dwight has been underrated until this point. Most great defense/good offesnive players are but especially big men. Howard has been by far the second best player in the NBA behind LeBron for going on five years now. Only James carried teams single handedly to the Finals like Dwight. Howard has been a one man wrecking crew.

  19. What are the odds of the Lakers scoring 108ppg this year (best in league) and giving up 98ppg (top 5) ?

    The Lakers AS A TEAM is pretty damn perfect. Dare I say it would be quite a disappointment if we have to see them play 60 games in the 4th. I remember seeing the 2nd-wave Bulls finishing off their opponents in 36 minutes and giving the aging starters more time to rest (towel time).

    The only Laker that needs to soak for 38mpg is Dwight Howard. Aside from the time he needs to acclimatize on offense with a new team is to be the focus of the team’s direction. We have just found our next superhero for the next decade.

    Nash averaged 30-31mpg last season. This will still be true this season that means a split of 18 minutes can go to whoever works out better between Blake and Duhon. My money is on Steve Blake being the “solid” contributor, can shoot 40% from 3-ball land.

  20. 12, great post.

    15, oh please

    OP, since when is MVP voting a good way to measure how well valued a player is? It’s so political that it serves only as a talking point. The best way to look at it is to say if there was a draft of every current NBA player where would Dwight go and is that aligned with his real value. I think most would agree he goes between 3rd & 5th (maybe 2nd if he was healthy) and yes that correlates with his real on the court value.

  21. My two cents: It’s not that Howard is undervalued, its that Lebron is so far and above everyone else that its hard to make a case for him getting more credit than Lebron.

  22. @ Jeremy (and by extension, Calvin)

    Win shares and similar advanced metrics work pretty well in a sport like baseball–though a team sport, very much of what a player contributes to the outcome of a given game, both offensively, and defensively, is a one-one-one battle–batter versus pitcher; runner vs catcher (I know certain pitchers hold runners better but you get the point); fielder versus ball, I could go on and on. There are certainly things that one’s teammates affect (who’s hitting ahead of you and behind you in the lineup for one example) and coaching for sure (do you havea guy that makes you “take one for the team” by bunting, sacrificing and hit-and-running all the time) but at the end of the day–you can usually compare players with some confidence using those kinds of stats.

    Basketball–not so much. One’s impact on the likelihood of a win or a loss is certainly dependent upon how many points, rebounds, steals, dimes, blocks, turnovers etc one gets, and how many shots its take to get one’s points and so forth–but unlike baseball–there is so much about one’s impact on the game that is not captured by the numbers (in comparison to a sport like baseball) that advanced metrics are of limited use.

    Example–Kobe was out for a small-sample-size stretch last year–Pau scored more–but his FGP plummeted–causal link? I don’t know–but this begs the question–did Pau rank so high in win shares those two years because he’s better and more valuable than Kobe–or did he benefit from the decreased attention and lack of consistent double-teaming that a quality player like Pau might otherwise engender but for the presence of Kobe? Food for thought.

    In any event, stat-heads keep looking for the basketball equivalent of the “unified theory of everything” that has eluded the most-brilliant theoretical physicists, and I’m here to tell you that you can pick any of them–PER, Win shares, you name it–they are of limited use other than confirming what you already know–that people who rank in the top 10 of those categories, generally, are great players-they help you create “tiers” of players with some confidence-but they don’t predict outcomes, and they don’t always help you sort out the value of the players within each of those tiers.

  23. 20, I was commenting on the theory that win/shares is a kobe-hating stat or that any stat is a kobe-hating stat. I don’t believe that any stat has been created or is used to be biased against kobe. I agree with you that there is no singular measure by which all basketball players can be judged. However I do think that by using a compilation of various advanced metrics (PER, +/-, WS, etc) you can get a pretty good idea.

    I’ve never based my love of the Lakers or appreciation of Kobe on him being the best basketball player in the league so it doesn’t really bother me where he ranks. What I want is for The Lakers to be the best team in the league of which Kobe is a big part of.

  24. @ Jeremy:

    Gotcha. I think it’s the other way around. I highly doubt any stat is created to favor or disfavor a particular player but I do think certain advanced metrics are “pets” of the “I hate Player x” chatter about various players, which can create that impression.

  25. Howard isn’t undervalued, but great article nonetheless. If he had a more polished offensive game, he would probably have an MVP by now. I feel like his disappearing act in the clutch, due to ridiculously low FG%, is what ultimately will hold him back from ever winning one.

    I agree with Calvin H, best thing about this trade was that we got to keep Gasol. A guy who ignores pecking order and just does his job, superbly well at that. Howard should benefit greatly from paying alongside him.

    As for metrics, I believe basketball will never have an ideal solution. Nowadays, best thing would be to combine PER, Win Shares and Video. If somebody can somehow quantify defensive pressure, hustle, forcing bad shots, perfect defensive rotation, closing out passing lanes and things like that, then you would have your metric. A combo of all those should work. The sheer difficulty of such a task is what leads me to believe that will never happen.

  26. Howard is a defensive juggernaut, but he has no go-to move and you can’t forget his atrocious free throws. Superstars have to be able to get their teams over the hump in the clutch by producing points. I think SVG had more with Orlando’s success than most give him credit for.

  27. mindcrime pretty much covers all the necessary statistical ground for my dislike of using statistics to prove something. You actually have to watch the game of basketball to evaluate how the players interact – on offense and on defense. What statistics does is inform you as to tendencies to look for and generally group players – at least on the offensive end.

    As to a player’s worth to a club – that is a function of the makeup of the team, offensive and defensive needs, the locker room and the ability of that player to put fannys in the seats (both home and away) and eyes on the TV. This last point is rarely mentioned, but it does impact what a player is offered. Kobe is clearly the most internationally recognized player in the NBA, with Lebron 2nd, and Howard down the line a bit. This factor doesn’t fall off as quickly as a player’s talent declines.

    Value encompasses more than just a player’s talent.

  28. The notion that’s widespread throughout basketball is Dwight has no post game and Drew’s is better. Drew’s a more traditional built center I’ve always said and looks the part. Howard is just as effective in the post even more so because he gets to the FT line which I have forever been harping on as one of Bynum’s defencies. Dwight has go to moves that work and shoots around the basket with both hands like Pau and Drew. I don’t see such a drastic difference in Dwight and Drew’s post game. Size, yes but ability in the post no.

  29. @ Kevin — This isn’t meant to criticize Howard, but he can’t hold a candle to Bynum in terms of polish in the post.

    Bynum has moves and countermoves with both hands, catches the ball very well, and has a good shooting touch. He’s the best center in the league in that regard, having learned from greats like Kareem and Pau.

    Howard still scores more, however, which means he’s great at getting his points in other ways: put-backs, free throws and beating his man down the floor for dunks.

    Overall, the numbers show a healthy Howard is a better player than a healthy Bynum. But to say Dwight has a better low-post game is a stretch. He’s more effective due to size and athleticism more so than refined skill.

  30. Dwight has certainly developed some nice moves with both hands where he takes advantage of his quickness and strength. The problem is his FT%,where teams would rather foul,even risking a 3pt. play.

  31. It’s easy:

    Andrew Bynum — Patrick Ewing
    Dwight Howard — Shaquille O’Neal

    Dwight is a freakishly-athletic specimen of a player, who has the ability to dominate–his athleticism alone gives him an edge over Bynum.

  32. Everyone is comparing this team to the 2003-04 team, but it’s more like the 1971-72 team to me. Wilt, Baylor, Goodrich and West are closer to D12, Pau, Nash and Kobe than a worn out Payton and an end of the line Malone.

    I hope for the same success as far as the records and the streak. I guess Jameson and MWP would be our Happy Harriston (scorer) and Pat Riley (defender). I know most of the this site will not remember this team, but they can read up on it.

  33. Dwight is like Pau… Most of the time he faces up and tries to out quick his opponent. He is wry underrated in the post but not better than Bynum. Drew is the guy coaches néed to game plan the most for in the post.

  34. Kobe worshipers it’s time for a reality check.

    ___

    Ditto for the KobeHaterBoys. What happens to the Lakers this year will depend on:

    1. Health/age
    2. Defense

    Bryant’s shot selection will matter some–but not nearly as much as the the two things above.

  35. Yeah idk RR, even Dwyane Wade had to step aside for the better player.

  36. Dwight is not like Shaq.
    Shaq had a pretty refined post game (most people don’t give him enough credit for it –they just assume it was because of his size), and is probably one of the best passers as a big man in his prime. Bynum is still a black hole and can’t pass out of double teams; Dwight just makes the easiest pass to whomever he can when double-teamed, whereas Shaq consistently hits the open man (ala Pau, but to a lesser degree since he plays in the low-post all the time unlike Pau).
    Shaq also battles for post-position like no other (unlike Bynum) and is usually close enough for a dunk (unlike Bynum). In that regard yes Dwight is like Shaq. But in terms of post-game and passing out of double teams, Shaq is definitely better than Dwight at this point.

  37. ChrisJ: You make some good points. They both have really basic moves that are effective. Pau, Kobe, Duncan, Dirk, Jefferson have counters. Drew and Dwight are extremely successful on their first options. Pau is better than both on the block but theirs not a definitive answer between those two who has the better post game. They’re real even.

  38. There are going to be games in which Kobe goes 7/20 and people freak out. There are going to be times when he shoots fallaways with a hand in his face in the last 20 seconds and every major website talks about it and people here complain about it.

    But it is the same problem people have always had when it comes to him: they give him too much power and think about him too much, de-emphasizing the rest of the team. With Nash, Howard, Jamison, and Meeks on the team, the way the team plays and the way Kobe plays will change as part of that picture. And the Lakers will, if healthy, have a very good offense. The questions will be health, defense–and coaching.

    No one knows what is in Bryant’s head except Bryant, but Howard and Nash and Grade-A brand NBA superstars in a way that Bynum and to some extent Pau never have been and in Bynum’s case probably never will be although he is still pretty young. I think that will affect the way Bryant deals with this, and on a more practical level, I think Nash will get him a lot of open looks.

  39. Bynum is a half step ahead of Howard on offense. He is more polished and has every move in the book. Howard is much more athletic (at least he was pre-injury.) and is a harder worker. He sprints down court for early positioning and works harder for post positioning. The biggest difference between the two is on the defensive end where Howard is not only better, but he cares about his defense game in and game out. He takes pride in it.

  40. Defense should always be important, as is health/age, but a big concern last season was our atrocious and somewhat ineffective offense. Although part of that could have been that two of our best players (Pau/Byno) didn’t mesh on the court together, and also that the team lacked depth.

    It’s not Kobe’s shot selection that worries me personally, but rather his effect on the flow of the game. Shot selection, excessive ball-control, making the offense his like he’s the head coach…

    But you’re right rr, it probably will not matter much, especially on a stacked team with players that will attract attention away from Kobe.

    A head coach’s job is to extract a team’s full-potential. Let’s hope Mike Brown succeeds; Phil jackson was able to keep Kobe’s ego in-check just enough, let’s see if MB can do the same. Phil Jackson was able to get his players to believe in the triangle system, let’s see if MB can find a system.

    Anyway, if Lakers don’t win a championship this season, regardless of what anyone thinks about Kobe, Mike Brown will be the one to blame.

  41. It’ll be all about defined roles. Last year Kobe had one so did Bynum but no one else. Brown will have to define roles quickly. That’s tough to do when you have no offensive philosophy. We’re not sure what offense were running yet.

    I must admit the roster is perfectly suited for the triangle.

  42. Although part of that could have been that two of our best players (Pau/Byno) didn’t mesh on the court together, and also that the team lacked depth.

    Well, the team fundamentally lacked talent. As covered ad nauseum last year, the Lakers were not a top-tier contender, and that was clear before they had played a game. Kobe’s USG tends to track based on the team’s talent base. As noted, that is a chicken/egg thing with no answer.

    This year, they will have a legit backup for him, a legit scorer off the bench, and an elite PG/C P/R combo. I think USG will head down towards 30 naturally, and I think he will be willing to let Nash run the offense. But Kobe is going to shoot the ball a lot, and he is going to play iso sometimes. If I think that is hurting the team, I will say so, but even if it is, it will be one part of a big picture.

  43. Brown will have to define roles quickly.

    ___

    I don’t see that as a problem with this group on one level. The Lakers have a traditional PG, a traditional SG, a traditional C, a traditional PF, and a traditional SF. Off the bench, they have a stretch 4, a backup 2, a backup 3, a backup 4/5 who likes to hit glass, and three (weak) options for backup 1.

    Finding the right combinations may be an issue. I would make sure Nash and Howard are on the floor together as much as possible. Ditto Kobe and Pau.

    But this is a much easier “problem” than shuffling among guys like Fisher and McRoberts and Murphy. The roster is simply vastly better than last year’s.

  44. @mindcrime, Craig-
    I agree that no metric is perfect. But not all metrics are created equal. However, teams that use metrics are, generally, doing better than those that do not. Notable examples include Boston, Dallas, and OKC.

    Yes, coaching and chemistry play important roles. These cannot be (easily) quantified. But this should not be an excuse not to use every available means to gain a competitive edge.

    Use of analytics can significantly improve player evaluation, matchup decisions, even team strategies. Analytics predicted that Chandler was the key to the Dallas’ defense. After he was traded, Dallas did much worse, but this doesn’t mean it was a bad trade. The team made a calculated decision not to re-sign him based on projected long term benefits/losses.

    @warren:
    Don’t go counting championships yet. The Lakers still have to survive the Western conference first. Potential threats include the Spurs, Denver, OKC, and Clippers. Yes, the Lakers improved a lot by adding Nash, Howard, and Jamison However, Nash’s offensive strengths are balanced by his defensive liabilities. Howard’s defensive prowess is balanced by his limited offensive efficiency. The team is older and injury prone. How will Brown defend against Westbrook, Paul, Parker, even Lawson/Miller? Howard won’t be able to steamroll Duncan, Mozgov, Perkins, or D. Jordan. I’ll wait to see if Brown/Jordan can mold these all-stars into a team.

  45. The offense revolved around Kobe isolation plays last season for several reasons – he was the only perimeter player who could create his own shot…. defenses were packing the paint and doubling whoever was in the post, mostly Bynum, who struggled when double teamed….. there were very few easy baskets due to lack of a transition game….. and most importantly, according to Mike Brwon, it was part of his game plan because the team did not have enough practice time.

    If anyone has concerns about Kobe adjusting his game, you have not been paying attention to his career. He toned down his game until the fourth quarter during the Shaq era. He went nuts with Kobe ball during the Smush/Cook era, which was according to Phil’s game plan to make the playoffs. In the playoffs, he followed the game plan to revolve the offense around Kwame in the post. That’s right, Kwame. When Bynum took a leap in his game, coupled with the arrival of DFish, Kobe once again toned down his game to accommodate his team. When Gasol arrived, Kobe made a concerted effort to force Gasol to be more aggressive, and not pass up open shots. He knows how to win people! Why do you continue to question that?

    I scratch my head when fans question whether Kobe can, or is willing, to adjust his game to Nash or Howard, or question his so called “selfishness” over his desire to win. Have these people forgotten that Kobe is the most successful basketball player of his generation? Either these people have not been paying attention, are simply Kobe haters, or have been brain washed by the constant stream of Kobe hating articles from guys like Abbot and the rest of the writers from ESPN. I just don’t get it.

  46. I can’t imagine anyone who has watched Kobe for the last sixteen years not questioning his ability/willingness to share the ball. That’s kind of been his kryptonite his entire career. To not worry about that is like not worrying about Dwight’s FTs. I mean get a grip guys.

  47. @ 46
    Especially “scratch my head when fans question whether Kobe can, or is willing, to adjust his game to Nash or Howard, or question his so called “selfishness” over his desire to win. Have these people forgotten that Kobe is the most successful basketball player of his generation? Either these people have not been paying attention, are simply Kobe haters, or have been brain washed by the constant stream of Kobe hating articles from guys like Abbot and the rest of the writers from ESPN. I just don’t get it.”

    Right?

    But that’s the times we live in man. The media dictates who’s hot and who’s not. What’s right and what’s wrong. Regardless of what one’s eyes see or what one’s intellect says to the contrary. As for me and mine, we riding with Kobe till the legs fall off the ride!

  48. @46
    Well friggen said LT mitchell! I would like to highlight this post and use over and over again.

  49. Anything regarding the Lakers offense is a concern right now. That includes, but is not limited to Kobe. When it comes to running an offense Brown does not inspire confidence. That is my first concern.

    Second is the fact there are two new impact players being added to the mix. Nash is used to playing a certain way. He played “Nellie-ball” in Dallas. Then he went to the SSOL offense in Phoenix under D’Antoni. Then it was SSOL-lite under Gentry. The man has played basically the same style for the last decade. Can he play a different style? Of course he can. Will he excel and look like “Steve Nash” running the Princeton? We don’t know yet. Howard is used to being flanked by shooters and having the box basically to himself. He will have to adjust to having Gasol down there. Plus, he won’t be ready for training camp. He won’t be ready to participate until several weeks into the season. So it may take him a minute to find his way when he comes back.

    Kobe will have to adjust to the fact he is not the primary ball handler anymore. Along with that, I’d argue that a Nash/Howard pick and roll with Nash looking for Howard should be the Lakers first scoring option. It will take Kobe time to get used to this. It has nothing to do with him being a raving egomaniac. It has everything to with the fact these guys develop habits and tendencies over the years.

  50. On the topic of “shot selection” – what is a “good” shot?

    Is it based on promixity to the basket? If so, is a 20 footer better than a 23 footer?

    Is it based on the time left on the clock? If so, is an uncontested shot with 20 seconds on the clock better than one with 5 seconds left?

    Or is it based on how “open” a player is? If so, is a Kwame Brown layup better than a contested Kobe 20 footer, especially, if there is a chance of drawing a foul?

    I say it depends on the *perceived* ability of a player to make that shot. And that ability will differ based on player and/or game situation.

    To illustrate my point, allow me to bring up a situation:
    We are down 2, on the road against the Thunder, with 3 seconds left in the game. Should we:

    a. Get it into Dwight in the post, with Perkins on him?
    b. Get it to Pau at the high block with Ibaka on him?
    c. Swing it out to Ron for the corner 3, with Durant aggressively playing the passing lane?
    d. Get it to Kobe, who is being guarded by Harden?, or
    e. Have Nash try to break Westbrook off the dribble and launch a 3 ptr?

    (a) is prolly the only option we will rule out, right?

    What if the score was tied?

  51. “Have these people forgotten that Kobe is the most successful basketball player of his generation?”

    It boggles the mind. The man has made the finals 7 times, won 5 championships, and missed the playoffs once in 16 seasons. He’s been the primary playmaker in pretty much all those seasons and the primary scorer in the majority of them. While he certainly isn’t perfect and shouldn’t be immune from criticism, there is no logical way he could have been so successful if he needed constant reminders from talking heads of how to win in the NBA.

    As far as Howard goes, we know that he is a) the best defender in the league b) the best big man in the league and c) one of the top 5 players in the league. Accordingly, he has won 3 DPOY awards, been voted First Team All-NBA 5 years in a row, and usually finishes top 5 in MVP voting (I think he should have won in 2010/11). I would say he’s rated just about right, especially at a point in time when the center position is so weak.

  52. 4th quarter heroics:

    I think designating 4th quarter as “Kobe time” is counter-productive. If everyone knows where the ball is going, isn’t that stacking the odds against us?

    Instead, given that we have *four* players who can get their own shot off anytime they want – very different from the Shaq years, we should really experiment with “Kobe time” – throw it out in the middle of the third quarter for instance :)

  53. The one thing we can trust Kobe in is that he will do what’s necessary for the win.

    We may not agree with the approach he takes, but you are very sure that at least we agree with the goal.

    Moreover, he is far more obsessed with reaching the goal than we can realistically expect from a multi millionaire who already has achieved pretty much all there is to achieve… hence the Kobe Lovers.

    Haters are those that focus more on his effort to impose his will on the game in order to win (often by taking the scoring burden when things don’t go as well as he’d like) as opposed to his desire to win.

    Of course there has been instance of self indulgence or him trying to prove a point… but I’d say those are ‘statistical outliers’ and not the norm.

  54. 46) LT mitchell-All truth! Your post paralleled Kobe’s dilemma as a Laker with different sets of personnel.

    I too, would like to highlight this post permanently. To raise during any discussion on Kobe Bean Bryant.

    Your post is the type of post that I wish had a “like” button. I am sure that many whom read FB&G agree but have not written an acknowledgement of your post.

    Kobe is a winner and will have no problem adapting to a player like Nash that plays with passion and desire to win. Howard will become a more effective player alongside Kobe as he has never played with the likes neither Kobe nor Nash.

    Post the next two years I will feel confident with the Lakers in Dwight Howard’s capable hands.

  55. What has always been the question when it comes to Kobe? His talent? His skills? No. Of course not. It’s always been in willingness to share the ball. It seems a little silly to pretend its not a concern. It’s always a concern. Last year he was pkaying with two all star big men who were extremely effective with the ball and he led the history of the world in usage rate while shooting 43 percent. Denial isn’t just a river…

  56. It may be a “concern”, but as I said the other day, there is really no evidence that the team has underachieved at all because of it, and IMO it is pretty far down the list of “reasons the Lakers might not win the title this year.” People who talk about it all the time, and ignore other things, usually do so because of their emotions about him.

    Also, it is highly debatable whether Gasol and Bynum could have carried higher USGs at the same efficiency level given the Lakers’ lack of perimeter shooters and playmakers–as the fact that their FGPs cratered when Kobe was gone indicates.

    But the thing with Kobe is that he is, and always has been, and always will be, primarily a scorer. That is how he plays the game because that is what he is good at.

  57. Willingness to share… yeah, that’s a problem especially when…

    his teammates don’t DEMAND the ball, are not in POSITION to get the ball, are not WORTHY of the ball.

    Although I’m selling them a bit short, most of the time Pau fell in the first category, Bynum in the second, and the rest to the third category.

    Do I wish Kobe had a more patient approach to this ala Popovich and give his teammates a full season? Yes. But I also understand that Kobe has a very short window compared to Pop and see why he could feel impatient as well.

    Hopefully, with a rejuvenated Pau, a hard working Dwight and an able shooting/creating Nash, we will solve all three problems… and see if Kobe really has a detrimental ball-sharing problem.

    I doubt that will be the case judging from his 2008, 2012 Olympic stints, with his career with Shaq as well as his recent interviews admitting his mortality, but to think that will be like an insurmountable obstacle or treating Kobe’s willingness to share like some miracle is just too much.

  58. Aaron, what do you mean by willingness to share the ball?? How many Kobe passes to teammates resulted in made baskets??? Why did the FO got out and fortify the bench?? Why didnt stick with the same bench and lets see how many shots they can create when Nash passes to them?? Only a dimwit can look over Kobe’s career and and not come off knowing that the man does all it takes to win. Willingness to share the ball is stupid statement to make when the man is a shooting guard playing with players that have less than 10% of his drive.

  59. The man is a Shooting Guard. Why people have to stupidly ask why he shoots leaves me bewildered. I blame the mediocre American Public School system which is responsible for why we have a bunch of adults running around not able think for themselves and instead reading what Abbott and Holinger (and other misled naysayers) say and take it as gospel. Kobe is the most successful active NBA player, if he says he needs to shoot 50 times for his team to be successful who are a bunch of fans,journalists or ex players who have never reached his level of success to question him?? Please enjoy the game and enjoy the man and stop question greatness.

  60. Off topic, I don’t know if you heard the news that the vacant coaching staff were filled up with: Eddie Jordan, Steve Clifford and Bernie Bickerstaff.

    http://lakers.ocregister.com/2012/08/16/eddie-jordan-bernie-bickerstaff-set-to-join-mike-browns-lakers-coaching-staff/73857/

    Mike Brown is surrounded by three head coaches and an Orlando Asst Coach, I guess Mitch and Jim played an insurance by surrounding MB with head coaches which is better than one. On the other picture, if there are too many chiefs and few indians, it could also spell disaster.

  61. Kobe can adapt and thrive in any offense he’s that good and has that great a IQ.

    The problem will come in if he wants to average 25 points instead of 18-19 pts. He said he wouldn’t stick around to score that little but I don’t think he ever thought it was possible for the Lakers to get Nash and Howard and keep Pau so I think he’ll do what’s necessary.

    Kobe recently said at the Olympics “I don’t have to shoot here I do that with the Lakers”. Commiting to adapt throughout a few games is different than sacrificing for 82+ games.

    When Kobe sees everyone on this team sacrificing he will too.

  62. A lot of times perception is reality. The stigma that’s out there about Kobe being a me first guy, while we’ve seen otherwise, that’s the perception. If he fits in this year and the Lakers win a championship that’ll forever be gone. And he’ll have the narrative on his side he gave DH the reigns something Shaq didn’t do to him. Kobe can truly come out looking better than ever in this. Maybe he can talk to Kareem to can make this a smoother transition.

  63. 51 – this option gets my vote: “d. Get it to Kobe, who is being guarded by Harden.” Especially if Kobe’s single covered .. and with this roster he’s more likely to be.

  64. If the perception is it’s major concern whether Kobe will do what’s necessary to win a championship by playing team ball, I’d argue the Lakers don’t really have big problems.

  65. a. Get it into Dwight in the post, with Perkins on him?
    b. Get it to Pau at the high block with Ibaka on him?
    c. Swing it out to Ron for the corner 3, with Durant aggressively playing the passing lane?
    d. Get it to Kobe, who is being guarded by Harden?, or
    e. Have Nash try to break Westbrook off the dribble and launch a 3 ptr?

    ====

    It should be a “D” … give it to Kobe and let him do what is best for the team to win. This is where we define who your best player is. And it is still Kobe.

  66. Not sure how I feel about the Princeton offense implementation. In theory it was great for the old team, but how does it fit in with Nash and Howard? Do we use the Princeton only on some trips? Use only some principles of the offense? I’m probably just not familiar enough with the system. In a lot of ways, this will be a repeat of last year – we’re installing a new system, with a revamped roster and revamped coaching staff. There will be a training camp and more practice time this year, but really there’s not a ton of continuity from last year.

    On the one hand it’s good to know MB doesn’t have an ego, and we’re bringing in fairly reputable assistant coaches. On the other hand, you wonder why MB always seems to need so many “chiefs” (as Edwin put it) around.

  67. Accurate to say Chuck Person is out? That O.C. Register story was a little vague on his status. If so, that’s too bad — he did a good job as coach, in my estimation from afar.

  68. For all the Kobe Worshipers who are obviously alive & well on this sight who can’t imagine this or that. A guy hope is willing to “do anything to win”:

    – doesn’t come out in the media and tell the world “I eat first” when he has a young developing teammate in Bynum coming into his own. That’s not very encouraging.

    -doesn’t make it a habit of taking as many field goal attempts as the next two scorers on the team. Especially when those two are hitting 50% of their fg attempts. That’s not good decision making

    – LEARNS to work with the other stars on the team, based on their strengths & weaknesses for the teams success.

    Now we have heard of numerous Kobe-Jordan comparisons, but one we have not. Which was the better passer? Or maybe I should say, the more willing passer?

    Keep in mind:

    -both played for the same coach for most of their career
    -both played in the same system for most of their career, the tri-angle
    -neither played with an all-star point in the pg prime.

    However I don’t think anyone can argue which of these players had better offensive teammates. Kobe played with Shaq, Gasol, & Bynum. Earlier he played with Nick Van Exel, Cedric Ceballos & Eddie Jones.

    Jordan had Pippen (usually averaged less than 20 ppg with along side of Jordan) & Kukoc.

    Both had great shooting role players. Kobe had Fish & Horry. Jordan had B. J., Steve Kerr, & Paxson.

    Anyway focus on the assist comparison between these two players. Come to your own conclusion.

    http://bkref.com/tiny/M5z40

  69. Maybe sort of an off-topic rant, but I’m tired of the Lakers having a “short window” to win compared to the Thunder or Heat. Sure, the Kobe-Nash-Pau-Dwight Lakers have a short window to win, but in 2 years everybody but Nash’s contracts expire (and Nash becomes a 1 year contract for trade bait if needed). In other words, the Lakers can completely rebuild around Dwight just like the Heat did around Wade.

    Mitch has done a great job in avoiding what has killed other teams–taking on long-term contracts for good (but not superstar) players, yet still getting Nash and Dwight. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

    Also, if Dwight really wants “his own team,” he’ll have it in 2 years as the star player on the NBA’s flagship team, while still having a good chance to win now with Kobe, Pau, and Nash. So he also gets to have his cake and eat it too. For this reason, I think he’ll re-sign.

    (I do become wary when a player wants to start running the entire team–not the Lakers way definitely. Kobe has learned to trust Lakers management and I have as well after having my doubts about Jim last season–so hopefully Dwight does also.)

  70. Chris J, I think they should retain Chuck Person as special coach to improve DH’s ft%.

    Snoopy2006, yes they were former Chiefs who did not pan out with other tribes. Maybe, they could propel a new chemistry composed of: the Princeton specialist; video expert; 007 scout; defense specialist and finally, an all around utility man (providing water bottles and chewing gum for MB). What will be the role of MB? He’s the COC – Chairman of Coaches.

  71. @64, @66:

    Now, what happens if Kobe takes the shot, and misses it? Does he:
    1. Get branded a selfish ball-hog?
    2. Get called out on his “clutchlessness”?
    3. Get a pass because it was the “right” basketball play?

    And yes, that was a rhetorical question :)

  72. 50. T Rogers

    Very well-put. Finally, some honesty.

    On this site, when it comes to Kobe, often times when someone says something that even sounds like negative criticism towards Bean, they bring up his accomplishments and go “all-or-nothing”…

    “Kobe doesn’t have to adjust his game. Kobe is perfect in every way and if you doubt that, you are wrong. Kobe this, Kobe that… Kobe and tehh ringzz.”

    It’s not about Kobe being the “bad guy” or the “good guy”; it’s about Kobe the player, his game, and the obvious–how he needs to adjust his game as he ages, and adjust to these new additions to our team.

    Kobe is no longer the best player on our team. We finally have a legit point guard. Kobe has never been in this situation before… It’s time for HIM to adjust, not the players around him.

  73. @69:

    Very true. No way is OKC going to be able to keep Durant, Westbrook, Harden *and* Ibaka at their market-price.
    Same with Miami – in 2014, they will be paying 65M just to Wade, Bosh and LBJ. Given all the other players they have to pay, *and* the fact that they will be a repeat offender, any guesses as to what their final payroll (with luxury taxes) is going to amount to?
    Keep in mind that both OKC and Miami are small markets – the writing is on the wall.

    The NBA as we know it is going to change. Will it makes things more “equal”? Possibly. Will it mean more $$$ for the league? Not so sure.

  74. Hey guys, LeBron has an ETO in 2014, right? Isn’t that the year Kobe, Gasol, Metta expire?

  75. We finally have a legit point guard. Kobe has never been in this situation before… It’s time for HIM to adjust, not the players around him.

    ___

    Neither has Nash. Or Howard. Or Pau. Or MWP. Or Jamison.

    Like I have said: you focus on Kobe too much. It’s a team game.

  76. Adding to this:

    Nash has played with Joe Johnson and Stoudemire, but he has never played with a 5 like Howard or a guy like Kobe. He has also never played in this offense.

    Howard has never played with either an elite 1 or an elite 2; that is one reason he wanted out of Orlando.

    Pau has never played on a team where he will be the 4th option. He has also never played with a guy like Nash; there AREN’T other guys like Nash.

    Jamison has been a starter on bad teams most of his career; now he is coming off the bench on a team that will be expected to win 60.

    So it is not only Kobe that will need to adjust.

  77. Convenient how you left out “Kobe is no longer the best player on our team…” from my previous post, rr.

    Yes, aside from Kobe:

    -Jamison will have to adjust to not being a top scoring option anymore, and get used to coming off the bench. Yeah, of course.

    -Steve Nash is in a completely different situation as well, with a new system, and probably in a different role.

    etc., ETC.

    But that’s the thing–they are going to have to adjust. Will they accept that? Hopefully.

    Will Kobe accept the need to adjust? I think he will. I like Kobe, he’s a smart player.

    Why do I “focus” on Kobe? Because he was our best player pre-Dwight; it all starts with him, the offense runs through him. He’s the one giving up ball-handling duties. He’s the aging superstar (well, alongside Nash) he’s the one who had, admittedly, somewhat of an inefficient season. He’s not 28-year-old Kobe anymore… maybe we must admit he’s lost some of his ‘spunk’.

    Frankly, I’m worried that Kobe has more control over this team than Coach Mike Brown does.

    Tell me, who ‘suggested’ the Princeton offense?

  78. When I discuss how Kobe will fit in it has more to do with dead possessions. We’ve grown accostumed to his spectacular one on one plays but they have been more and more painful to see over the past few years because he’s lost a few steps. Sefolosha and Durant made life tough on Kobe.

    Shooting guards have shown last year that they can at least stay in front of Kobe making him work for points. If Kobe is having to work more to score when he’s in the post or Iso he’s taking more time off the clock and has his teammates standing around. And stops all the offensive flow.

    Last year I kept posting Kobe’s numbers coming off screens and cuts hoping Brown would put him in motion for higher percentage shots. That should be the way Kobe is utilized most this season.

    Kobe is such a great all around player. This upcoming season Lakers need him to be that.

  79. Kevin_
    I think you are being a bit of a Pollyanna about people’s ability to change their minds about Kobe. People are pretty set in their ways and will look for/or invent anything to keep their opinions from changing.

    I think LT mitchell had it right in #46. It is the fact that the “talking heads” need something beat their drum with and, since Kobe didn’t march to their particular drum in the past, they will find a way to criticize whatever he does.

    It’s not that Kobe is perfect, it is just that he is so much smarter, more talented, and driven that almost any other NBA player. That type of person will never be a ‘piece-of-cake’ to get along with.

  80. The last superstar who was criticized as much as Kobe was Wilt. Since it was the 60s, I don’t think I have to spell out the reasons writers feared’ him and ”hated’ him. At least I didn’t see Laker writers joining this bandwagon.

    That isn’t the case with Kobe. He has diehard Laker fans who ‘hate’ him because of perceived shortcomings in his game. I suspect Kobe’s biggest crime was that he came along while Michael Jordan was still winning championships and he refused to bow down to ‘the god’, but instead tried to best him. This not only ‘honked off’ the “talking heads”, but also struck a little irritation in a teammate who demanded everyone on the team follow his line. Kobe marched to his own drummer and, for that, he was cast out. Kobe has been known to ‘make a point’, but he has never tried to sabotage a team. His aim has always been to win the last game of the season.

    If he rubs you the wrong way, perhaps it is because you aren’t up to the dedication and focus needed to meet his standards – Shaq wasn’t.

  81. CraigW: I’m not asking anyone to change their minds. Be even keel and realize Kobe is the driving force of this team they go as far as he takes them. Your best most iconic player can’t always have his palms open looking for a shot. Sometimes it pays off to go with the flow of the offense.

    Nobody hates Kobe and no one on the Lakers is above fair criticism.

  82. “It’s not that Kobe is perfect, it is just that he is so much smarter, more talented, and driven that almost any other NBA player. That type of person will never be a ‘piece-of-cake’ to get along with.”

    Ok, this isn’t 2006.

    ++ Playing the “they’re just jealous” card is kind of arrogant.

  83. Kevin_
    What I meant was that IMO most people will not change their minds about Kobe, regardless what he does or doesn’t do next year.

    What we will hear from the ‘haters’ is that he had to have this ‘super team’ in order to win more titles.

    What these people ignore is that nobody wins titles by themselves…not Kobe, not Michael Jordan, not Magic, not Kareem, not Wilt, not Oscar, not Jerry, and not Russell.

  84. Off-topic a bit, but Kobe always says that he wants to be remembered as the guy who maximized his talents.

    Do you think he did?

    I think he did, but I’m not sure if he maximized his chances; meaning utilizing his teammates and setting them up to succeed. He knows how to get the most out of himself and seems to get easily frustrated when others can’t do likewise… to his detriment.

    But when paired with players equally dedicated, or motivated, Kobe seems to play along and have shown that he can adjust. We know Nash is. We know Pau can. Dwight seems to. Hence my optimism regarding Kobe and next season.

  85. I can’t believe there are people on *this* board who still think Kobe’s motivated by anything other than winning!

    Just this last season, he *GAVE UP* the scoring title – a commendable feat for someone who was in his 16th season – so he could rest for the playoffs. And for anyone who thinks he couldn’t drop 38 on a Kings team – he dropped 40+ on the Thunder, a vastly superior team, in the playoffs.

    He just came back with an Olympic gold playing a role very different (defensive stopper) from what he dons with the Lakers. And he did the same thing four years ago, when he was in his prime.

    At this point in his career, his only goal is to get the ring.

    And, oh by the way, till the day he retires, this will always be *his* team. Doesn’t mean that he will its best player – just that he will be its soul. Anyone fighting that is just stupid.

  86. When Kobe won the MVP award, wasn’t that the year he made his teammates better (as compared to other years), and that was one of the reasons he got the award that year. He needs to go back into that mode now with this new team, that has been assembled to win a chip.

  87. yep.
    Kobe the selfish shooting guard who only has been the top assist guy on the team his whole career.

    i don’t see a problem with Kobe’s game. i wish the others worked that hard. this year it looks like he has others who will.

    why does Kobe shoot so much garbage? well, when the shot clock gets old and the ball gets stuck because the other teamates aren’t running the offense, but just throw the ball to Kobe with 5 seconds left on the clock, that’s what you get. the years the Lakers won, the minimized that temdency and worked a little harder. the years they went out early epitomized what i’m talking about.

    last year, the problem wasn’t the lack of cuddling that Kobe gave the other players, it was their awful shooting that wrecked the game.

  88. @47 way off base for someone career 5 assist averaging guy.Including 15 minute first two years.
    For some reason Kobe hatred is off the charts.

  89. I’ve expressed this sentiment numerous times in the past, so I apologize for the “repeat”–…

    First, I’m with RR on this–there is way to much focus on “Kobe” with regard to the upcoming season. No doubt, Kobe’s ability to mesh with the new names and faces is a top concern–but it’s part of an overall journey, and isn’t going to make or break the team–at least not in isolation. He is one of several players that will have to do so. Like all teams that aspire to be the last one standing, this one will have to come together to get a ring–that hasn’t changed and has been the case irrespective of the faces, names, or eras. I’m looking forward to watching it.

    As for “sharing the ball” “selfishness” and “team first” I don’t know what else to say that I haven’t before so I’ll say it again. Simply put–the only way you get the “good” “outstanding” and oftentimes “holy ____ did you just see that” moments from a player like Kobe, particularly after putting on all of the miles he has, is if you have a player with exceptional skill, drive, basketball-IQ, a pure hatred for losing, and a short-term memory when it comes to past failures.

    BUT–and a big BUT–you also have to put up with his ingrained perception (right or wrong–but no doubt honestly felt) that at certain times, irrespective of who else is on the floor, he is the best option.

    Sometimes that works out–sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes he’s right, and sometimes he’s wrong…

    At the end of the day, it’s that viewpoint that has made him legendary and feared–and has also made him a lightning rod for criticism–some fair–some ridiculous.

    Kobe is a phenomenal, all-time great, yet undoubtedly-imperfect player–and for all of his good and bad–I’ll miss him when he’s gone, but I’ll be glad I got to see him up close and in person.

    I just hope that we all, as Laker fans, don’t get so caught up in worrying about whether he is the best player on this year’s team, about his place in the current NBA rankings, and about his place in the all-time great pecking order, that we forget to enjoy what we’ve had, and what we will still get to have for just a little bit longer–a chance to cheer for a flawed, but undeniably great player.

  90. Kobe’s most famous & memorial quote: “I eat first”. If I’m wrong, or anyone believes I’ve taken this out of context, please correct me.

  91. BCS,

    Maybe that’s your concept of his “most famous & memorial (sic) quote”. One of my favorites of his were the 81 points on the scoreboard against Toronto. Also, the quote of him lifting his 5th trophy with the Lakers. Those are the quotes that matter. All the verbiage is for personal interpretation and couch coaching.

  92. @91,

    Do you think he came up with that quote, or, say, he heard it from a certain “Big Dog”? Who said something along the lines of – “you have to feed the dog if you want it to protect the house” ?

  93. Hey BigCitySid-

    You’re absolutely right. Kobe said that. What’s wrong with that statement? What did he mean by that? He meant, and correct me if I am wrong, that he is the first option on offense. Shaq said similar things many times during his years with the Lakers. Many other superstars have said similar things.

    I’ve heard you before- you have watched this team for decades and you don’t like Kobe. You don’t like the way he plays. You don’t like his “me first” attitude. I think that it is safe to say that you are anti-Kobe and that you have some sort of axe to grind here.

    What I don’t understand is: How can Kobe have been on 5 championship teams and be such a terrible teammate? How can you be the most selfish player of your generation and average close to 5 assists a game for your career?

    Oh, for the record. A healthy Dwight Howard is absolutely the best player on this team. However, that doesn’t mean that he is the best option offensively every time down the court.

    I look for Kobe to average about 17-19 shots a game this year. I also look for him to shoot an all time high FG percentage. He has never played with a guy like Nash who will get him great shots in rhythm.

    I’m so friggen excited about this season!

    sT- Not quite. That was the year that the *media* decided that he made his teammates better. If Michael Jordan would have averaged Kobe’s numbers in that 3 or 4 year span, then he would have won the MVP 2 or 3 times.

  94. The discussion here centers on the type of peripheral issues the Lakers must avoid. It doesn’t matter “Whose team it is”, or who takes the most shots or any of those side issues. All that matters is excelling , surviving the 82 game grind and being the first team to 16 wins next spring.

    All the rest is just talk. The Lakers main objective has to be teamwork on both ends of the floor. And each member of the team has to be ready to contribute what he can do best. And all have to accountable to the team and its goal.There is only one thing that matters and that’s winning a championship. I have no doubt that Kobe is down with that program.

  95. here we are, another friday, waiting around for another post.

    having said that, i like your quote: : “win, lose or draw; everything is always bigger with the Lakers”. because the focus is on the lakers and not just one player, one coach, one owner.

    we fanatics, er., laker fans thru generations of player and coach changes have one undeniable desire: and that is to win. championships that is. and how is that done? with great players and effort.

    of course it would be great to see kobe win his 7th nba championship; oops, meant 6th nba championship next season. wouldn’t be a stretch to say 7th in the next two possibly three years. the important thing of course is to win the nba championship for the lakers. the team we’re still talking about here on the 17th of August because of the front office’s work in obtaining some pretty talented, effort laden nba players.

    enjoy the weekend all.

    Go Lakers !

  96. Kobe is right, we are surrounded by idiots. Keep questioning the most successful active player. The reality is this, This is Kobe’s team. The front office foolishly kept him out the loop last offseason and ended up with a coach that only coaches defense. They finally got their heads straight and involved Kobe in decision making this season. Kobe knows more about offense than Mike Brown will ever know so why should it be a problem if Kobe did indeed suggest the Princeton Offense?? Our offense was a joke last season. The Denver Broncos have Payton Manning and He is the de facto Offensive coordinator. I dont hear anyone complaining about that. Lastly this is Kobe’s team, and honestly Lakers fans that dont like that can go root for the Clippers until Kobe retires. Arguing that Kobe is a ballhog or that Kobe needs to adjust is senseless cos Kobe isnt going to adjust. If you dont like it you can bang your head against the wall. Any real laker fan shouldn’t want Kobe to be different.

  97. As for the dimwits still taking about Andrew Bynum, please go root for the Sixers. Bynum is their centerpiece now. Lets see how many championships he will win.

  98. @ 95. Kenny T. This is Kobe’s team. He has earned that mantle. People come into the door with that understanding. Everyone needs to accept that 1st. Jim Buss foolishly tried to prematurely hand over the franchise to a nonchalant Andrew Bynum and it backfired. The unquestioned leader of this team is Kobe and the 1st step of this team being on one page is for everyone to understand that and follow the leader. Simple. If that is understood then everything else will work out fine. That was the secret of the Bulls. Horace Grant didnt complain about Shots, he went after missed shots. Pippen didnt complain about shots, he simply balled hard.

  99. The Lakers ended a rare period of mediocrity abruptly with the simultaeous acquisition of Shaq and Kobe years ago, ushering in a new era of excitement–only to see Miami replicate the excitement and success when Shaq was traded.

    Not to be outdone, the Celtics soon after simultaneously acquired KG and Ray Allen while holding on to Paul Pierce, forming a triumvirate of talent out of nothing that shocked the league. The Lakers struck back with the acquisition of Paul Gasol, and once again grabbed a championship.

    Miami again rose to the challenge, signing two superstars a la the Celtics, and seemed to create a Jamesian superteam no longer possible with the new CBA. The Thunder emerged, representing the new CBA order, building from within like San Antonio of old. These two teams set themselves to represent the West and East conferences in NBA finals for years. . . .

    Until Steve Nash and the Dwightmare rode into Lakerland, revivng a Laker challenge.

    The Heat still seem invincible in the East, but the Celtics have not yet totally disappeared. The Thunder seem on top in the West, but find themselves under a shadow reaching all the way from Los Angeles.

    Could the critics be right, and this be a pipe dream, with squabbling used to be’s, playing in pain, losing to teams that were never in the chase? Or, could the Lakers be all the way back, a Dwightmare and worse for the rest of the NBA? Will it feel like Showtime all over again?

    Underrated or overrated really needs to be about this new Laker team.

    Yes, Kobe will still be Kobe, many teammates are in their dreaded 30’s, Dwight may have lost some athleticism, Brown needs to have the support of 3 former NBA team coaches and more, and chemistry will only appear as the season progresses–but I’m ready for the season to start already.

  100. Speaking of Andrew Bynum… A quote just came out via Doug Collins quoting Doc Rivers coincidentally a day before the Dwight Howard trade. Basically Doc Rivers out of nowhere said the only Center he is worried about in the post is Andrew Bynum. Doc said he almost spit up his water as he knew he was getting Drew the next day. So I guess we can also put Doc Rivers into the Drew is more effective in the post than Dwight boat.

  101. Aaron, thats respect for Bynum’s game more than it is a knack against Dwight’s. But of course you just can’t help yourself.

  102. And to end this Kobe nonsense… As Phil Jackson said… The hardest thing for Kobe is to figure out when to not do too much… Same as for MJ. With high volume shooters there is always a question of high usage.

    102,
    I wasn’t knocking Howard. Either was Doc. Simply understanding who the dominant low post Center in the NBA is.

  103. Aaron, no one has ever questioned Bynum”s size and effectiveness when he is in position under the post. However, he doesnt run into position all the time, he is a black hole who doesnt know how to beat double teams yet, and he is slow. He is slower than than the Phoenix version of Shaq. He isn’t going to ever be faster and his knocked knees are going to be more detrimental as he gets older. The Sixers will be easier to beat now that they have Bynum because Drew negates the one advantage they had, speed. The Lakers were slow last year only because they wanted to cater to Bynum. For as Big as Bynum is no one would ever invite him to play on team USA cos he wont make it past 4 plays cos he is so slow.

  104. The 2006 Champions Miami Heat fell into a 0-2 hole in the finals cos they wanted to feed a slow Shaq the ball in the post. In game 3 they switched up and let Wade take the reins of the offense and they took over and never let go. In the game 6 Clincher, Alonzo Mourning was more effective than Shaq cos he focused solely on defense and didnt clog the lane on offense. Slow Big men dont work in this league, never have and never will. Shaq was a monster cos of his agility. He started to fade when he lost that. Bynum has never had Shaqs agility and he never will.

  105. harold: Kobe definitely maximized his talents. Sixteen years strong to still be elite is amazing. All the work he put in his whole career showed last year with a uncharted year for a player with his mileage. With the additions he can look even better with better efficiency.

    I just want Kobe to be like KG, Duncan, Pierce and Wade accept age and adapt to Nash and Dwight. Kobe can do so much more by doing less with this team.

  106. My lord. Aaron what is a volume shooter? Why are people so quick to embrace and regurgitate nonsense they hear from ESPN. There is no such thing as a volume shooter. There is Shooting Guard; a position in basketball, that is tasked with “Shooting” the ball. I feel sorry for this country. We have coming apart at the seams and we dont even know it. Please think for yourselves. How can someone tasked with “shooting” ever be a volume shooter?? Are they on some pitch count???

  107. to joe atlanta; we’re gonna change your name to joe los angeles. we get your vibe. aaron (not his bros.) comes out with a bynum, blah, blah, blah and you come back, guns blazing. we get it. and by the way, good work. i’ll have one of your triple espressos. let’s drink to that.

    to dave m; jm and darius; the asylum is restless…next topic?

    Go Lakers !

  108. Doc Rivers needn’t worry about Andrew Bynum. Denver and OKC pretty clearly showed that come playoff time he can be contained one on one, and altogether stopped with a double team.

  109. Funky chicken,
    Nobody single teamed Amdrew Bynum. The Nuggets swarmed him and the thunder sent over Obaka once Bynum put the ball on the floor. And everybody is stopped with a double team… Duh. That’s the point. To get the ball out of that players hands. You could double team Bynum non stop since nobody on his team could shoot. But by all means please tell Doc what he should or shouldn’t be worried about.

  110. I liked Andrew Bynum and I would have been happy to go into the season with him. I also think Dwight fits our team better than Andrew did.

    Having said that, I don’t get why people feel they have to bag on Andrew now that he is gone. How about wishing him well and getting back to discussing the Lakers?

  111. 1/2decaf1/2regular: appreicate the on fire reference. caffeine will do that.

    so let’s pick on dan patrick instead? he
    ‘s gotta be out there somewhere.

    repeat: dave m; jm and darius; the asylum is restless. a new post forthcoming?

    Go Lakers !

  112. Nobody stopped Bynum in the playoffs one on one. Denver not only doubled him on every catch but they often tripled him. If you go back and watch you will see they were even doubling him without the ball. OKC tried to single cover him but he dropped 20 on them so they began too aggressively double as well. The Lakers just couldn’t spread the floor with shooters.

    It is baffling to me how people think that Howard is somehow as good as Andrew on offense. He’s not. They both averaged 19 per 36 minutes but Bynum played with Kobe and Pau. Howard was his teams first option. Even rebounding, Howard only had a little more then one more board per 36 minutes. Again Andrew was playing with Pau another elite rebounder.

    What we got in the Howard trade was an the best defender in the game. A real game changer. That is what I am excited about. If you think Howard some how is going to give us more offense then Bynum, you will be disappointed.

  113. It’s not a bag on Bynum to say that Howard fits our team better than he does. No one, and I mean no one was saying that Howard is more polished on the block that Bynum. Why is there even an argument about that? What I will absolutely argue is that Howard runs the floor better, gets better early position, is a better PnR player on offense and defense, and is a better all around defender than Bynum.

    Bynum is going to be great, if he stays healthy, in Philly. He will probably average 25 ppg, 11 rebounds, and a couple of blocks. He may even have a better year scoring the ball than Howard, but he doesn’t fit our team better than Howard and he doesn’t defend better.

    If Howard/Bynum are both healthy, then we absolutely are better with DH12 than we were with Drew.

  114. The pissing matches over Bynum and Kobe are getting a little obsessive. No one’s getting anywhere, just repeating the same points over and over. If we’re looking for new topics, I’m interested in learning about the Princeton O if anyone has some specific x’s and o’s knowledge. Can it be tailored to a high usage PG?

  115. @#99 Joe ATL….

    You’re preaching to the choir. I agree with you. My point is that the team needs to pinpoint its focus on winning the C’ship and not deal with the peripheral issues that the media will seek to create. As you alluded to with the Horace Grant reference, players have to accept and play their roles. If the Lakers do that, there is absolutely no reason why they won’t have a very successful season.

  116. Like I said before, you either ‘hate’ Kobe or you ‘love’ Kobe, there is no in-between. Any slight criticism, even in a positive tone, and you’re labeled a ‘hater’.

    There must be a “focus” on Kobe, he’s one of our best players. He’s been our best player. I’m not going to throw anything under the rug when it comes to him. Fact is, Kobe isn’t the top dog in the league anymore. He isn’t even the best talent on our team anymore.

    Someone commenting that Kobe ‘running our offense’ is a good thing because MB is incompetent must be kidding themselves, because the very idea is unheard of and a complete joke. Ask Phil Jackson, and I’m sure he would agree.

  117. Michael H said it best. He took the time to write out everything I beleieve. Howard gives new consistent effort on the defensive end and is better defending the PnR. If you were expecting anything more you will be disappointed.

  118. @Michael H: in the modern era, Howard is second to only Dennis Rodman in terms of rebounding. So the difference between Bynum and Howard isn’t as minute as you’re making it seem. Howard has a non-stop motor and a knack for snatching rebounds from all over the place, whereas Bynum was to slow-footed and sometimes just downright lazy to be a consistently great rebounder.

    As for his supposed short-comings on offense, you can look at it from another point of view. He had better offensive numbers than Drew while playing as the 1st option, while Drew had a better team around him to alleviate the pressure. We all saw what happened when Kobe was out for 7 games, his FG% plummeted into the mid-40s. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  119. Bynum is not as good as Howard. its ubsurd that would even cross your mind. specially how he fits into the lakers team. They needed a top defender to contend and they got it. Bynum doesnt even compare the Dwight on D. Then your offensive point on Dwight saying bynums better is also false. Dwight was the primary guy on the magic and the only legitimate scorer so he would be getting double teamed or tripled teamed every night. Now with Dwight getting alot of the scoring pressure taken away from him he’ll be able to live more freely down in the post. with this Lakers team right here it is almost impossible for any player to get doubled because it will leave a star open and that will be to easy. whoevers guarding metta can come help out but even metta can hit an open shot. Dwight is going to do what hes always wanted to do so everyone sit down and take notes because this NBA season is going to be unreal…

  120. I don’t understand all the confusion here. D12 was pretty close offensively to Bynum. However, the defensive impact ( if defense indeed wins rings) is not even close…..not only that, if you don’t want to participate in team huddles and practice, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, it won’t work. If D12 is healthy, it’s an upgrade. How many of us swallowed our beer every time drew grabbed a knee or came up gimpy? Besides they are only a few years apart 24/26

  121. So drew wants to be da man? I live near Philly and if they get pissed at him he’ll be sorry he ever left. There’s no way he gets a pass for all the crap he pulled in la. La carried him thru all the injuries and handed him 2 rings. He didn’t play a major role in either campaign and the team was able to get by all of his injuries, and supported him. I see a train wreck unless he shows a more professional attitude.

  122. ^^ Truth

  123. Dwight mops the floor with everyone when it comes to the rebounding department, yes many mistake him for being a one-dimensional low-IQ post player, but I guess more frightening is that he has room to improve, and what he does he does GREAT.

    He has highly especialized pick and roll moves, has a fairly decent mid-range shot, and by all means an astounding rim-running game. None of the things I mentioned, Bynum was ever considered very good at, at least not by those who actually watch the games of both players, enough to compare them.

    With Andrew Bynum, we got 2 rings. No, with Gasol and Kobe and the tremendous work of countless others AND Bynum, we got 2 rings. It goes without saying that Bynum as a center, has done wonderful things, but they are far from GREAT – DURING those 2 championship runs. He was a necessity because of his big-man skills as a rebounder and asset in the paint, but Dwight as an offensively skilled and adept well-formed athlete, the Lakers have an intimidating presence in the picture that the team can rely on when “things are tough” everywhere else.

    You substitute Bynum for Dwight to go along with our clutch-man Fisher as a role model for “putting it in” while being a defensive liability, and the Lakers are arguably a 3-peat histrionic in the rearview mirror and in the cusp of rivaling those 3-peat Lakers and Twice-Thrice Bulls teams and Bill Russell, Magic-Showtime, Lakers, looking to reload for the next few championships.