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Winderman: Meet the new Kobe, same as the old Kobe

Jan 4, 2012, 10:37 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Courtney Lee, Kyle Lowry AP

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s play, only one NBA player was averaging more than 19 shots per game.

That player, in fact, was averaging 22.3, essentially putting him in a league of his own.

Which, of course, is where Kobe Bryant long has considered himself.

The question now is whether 22.3 is too many, whether it fractures the team concept, whether Mike Brown once again is handing over the keys to an offense, just as he did, without ultimate success, to LeBron James with the Cavaliers.

This, of course, is nothing new with Kobe, who finished second, barely, to Monta Ellis in shots per game last season, 20.1 to 20.0, as the only two players in the league to average more than 20 attempts. And two seasons ago, Kobe finished third in the NBA, behind Ellis and Carmelo Anthony.

The point being that triangle or no triangle, Kobe is going to get his shots and get a lot of them.

When Kobe went 6 of 28 in Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets, Brown said he did not have an issue with Bryant’s shot selection. There was no snarky Jackson-esque aide to indicate otherwise.

As the ultimate complementary player, Pau Gasol continues to be along for the ride.

But for Andrew Bynum, the question is whether so much offense going in one direction isn’t undermining his development as arguably the best center in the West.

The irony, of course, is had David Stern had not blocked Chris Paul-to-Lakers, Kobe would not have the ball in his hands as much, would not be able to decide on his own what is and is not a good shot.

But beyond that, the greater issue is when the Lakers are going to begin transition to something beyond all-Kobe all-the-time.

One would have thought that transition would have begun with the move from Jackson to Brown. But with the roster relatively stagnant, save for the loss of Lamar Odom, it appears it will be same as it ever was.
A lot of Kobe. Scraps for everyone else. With Brown’s endorsement.

To a degree, there simply might not be a need for the Lakers to evolve. After a rough start, after getting Bynum back from his season-opening suspension, after a new tape job on Kobe’s wrist, they seem fine.

Kobe certainly is fine. He’s getting his shots. More than he has in years.

But is that in the Lakers’ best interest? Bynum’s best interest? The best interest of a team caught in the middle of a grueling schedule with a lot of games and little time for rest?

At 33, Kobe is making himself more essential to the Lakers than at perhaps any other point in his career.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. klownboy - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Boo…

  2. grizz2202 - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    The best center in the West plays in Memphis.

    • Chris Carter - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      I’m a Lakers fan and I agree with this.

      • smoothaswilkes - Jan 4, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        You’re both wrong.

        You must be the only Lakers fan that is pissed about the Gasol trade.

        Way to show your colors Chris. I’m sure that you are happy Kobe is taking so many shots per game too.

  3. cjpunk15 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Get off Kobe and his shots already… Sick of reading the same regenerated garbage the guy obviously knows that he’s good enough to take whenever he feels like it. He’s the best closer in the game and has 5 reasons to shoot more than anybody on the floor. Stunting Bynum’s growth… Please. Bynum’s health is the only thing that can stunt his growth as a player not how many shots Kobe decides to take.

    • hoytdadd64 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      All this talk about Kobe and how many shots he takes, didn’t MJ average 22.9 shots per game for his career? Is Kobe not playing SHOOTING gaurd? Did Drew have a 20 – 20 game last night, and is he not averaging a double double so far this season? The Kobe hating is long beyond old now. No he is not MJ, but yes he is a great once in a lifetime player. Stop hating and just enjoy the poetry in motion while you still can!!

    • thatboi901 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      My question is where was the article dedicated for Kevin Durant going 8 for 26 last night. Yes Kobe shooting probably takes away from Bynum touches but Kobe frees up a lot of jump shots for his team with the ball in his hand. In the perfect world, Kobe takes less shots, Bynum takes more, Gasol plays tougher, and fisher gets younger but the world is far from perfect.

  4. keyshawn22 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    This is no shock. Kobe has long been the biggest ball hog and most selfish player ever to play in the NBA. The difference between him taking lots of shots and MJ taking lots of shots is that MJ wasn’t shooting 6-28. All Kobe cares about is getting his shots and to hell with the rest of the team. When are people going to stop making excuses for this clown recognize him for what he is: a ball hog, a bad teammate and selfish player. Oh yea and there was that thing in Colorado…. At his ex wife finally woke up!

    • cpaulii - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      I think your the same idiot that posted this Before:
      “Kobe won his last title when his teammates bailed him out bc he went 6-24 in game 7 against a celtics team that just lost Perkins and KG playing on 1 leg while still recovering from surgery.
      Anyone think MJ would ever go 6-24 in an NBA finals game let alone a game 7?? No way in hell.”

      well for your information, it happened twice:
      MJ, 1996 finals vs Seatle did it twice:
      game 4 : 6 of 19 for 31% 0 of 2 from 3points.
      Game 6: 5 of 19 for 26% 1 of 3 from 3 points. (this was the last game, Chicago won the NBA finals)
      if you don’t know basketball, please do not comment…

      • iskuterista - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:40 AM

        6-19 is not 6-24. that’s a difference of 5 more attempts and it is over 20 attempts per game for Bryant like the article stated.

    • hoytdadd64 - Jan 4, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      Kobe is the biggest ball hog in the history of the NBA? Have you only been watching basketball post Iverson era? Ever hear of Wilt the Stilt who averaged 22.5 shots per game, or Dominique Wilkins who averaged 20.1 spg or the so called G.O.A.T Micheal Jordan who averaged 22.9 shots per game? #’s don’t lie!!!!

  5. zblott - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Sure MJ took more shots, but a simple analysis of what he did versus Kobe makes it clear who the bigger “black hole” was:

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2011/2/20/determining-which-guards-are-black-holes.html

  6. chitownmatt - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    1 player offenses often do okay in the NBA. And when I say “okay” I mean just exactly that.

    The Lakers will make the playoffs on Kobe’s shoulders, but they will not make it past the 2nd round and there is little to no chance of a title.

    What is really up with Pau?? is he injured or just getting old?
    If Pau can get his 2009-10 post game back, the Lakers will be back.

  7. daydreamer3075 - Jan 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I have to agree with this article (and I’m a HUGE Kobe fan); but facts are facts. He simply shoots the ball far too often and consistently ranks as among the top VOLUME shooters every season. The irony, of course, is that with Kobe ‘less is typically more,’ the more he shoots the worst his percentage gets and the less games his team wins.

    As for those making the ridiculous comparison to the average shots per-game that MJ took (22.9); you should note that Jordan had a career 50% shooting average (compared to Kobe’s 45%). Again, this isn’t mean to “hate” or “bash” Kobe, but facts are facts. He is without a doubt one of the most selfish players in the history of the NBA. Moreover, he is at a point in his career where he can no longer simply rely on sheer athleticism and quickness to get to the rim for quality (high %) shots. For the Lakers to win–he simply needs to shoot less, assist more, and take a more active role in getting his teammates quality scoring opportunities (something incidentally Jordan excelled at).

    It’s easy to fixate on the beauty and majesty of Jordan’s last shot heroics (e.g., versus Russell and the Utah Jazz) but not so easy to remember the many, many assists he dished to teammates who rewarded his trust and made game-winning shots (e.g., John Paxson, Steve Kerr). Kobe should have learned this lesson at this point in his career.

    p.s., being in the same company as Monte Ellis (a pure chucker if ever there was one) is not a compliment–particularly considering the shooting %

  8. 00maltliquor - Jan 4, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I’m so sick of all the hating on Kobe. Save that lousy shooting game, Kobe’s been beasting and looking like a top three MVP canidate early on. 25.9 PPG, 6.3 REB, 6.0 AST, 1.14 STL through 7 games. Yeah, AND THIS IS THE SAME GUY THAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE ON HIS LAST LEGS!!!!????? This is the same guy that’s supposed to be falling off, on his way to retirement!?? Come the F on, man! Stop hating! Durant shoots 19 shots per game through 7 games, so what?

    People are just jealous and sick to their stomach that this man has been able to do this through one and a half decades and just want him to pass the torch. Look, the Lakers will be the 3rd seed. They will go deep in the playoffs. Kobe’s not falling off.

    And btw, that Odom trade is looking like a blessing in disguise. I love L.O., but if anyone is falling off it’s him, have you seen a Mavs game? Look, I know he will pick it up, but all this trade does is give Andrew Bynum real starters minutes and though it’s a small sample size, look what he’s producing! 22.7 PPG, 17.0 REB, 2.0 BLK, 62.2 FG% through 3 games!!!

    If he was to keep up 2/3rds of this production then screw Dwight Howard, keep AB. He is looking like the best center in the league and a top 10 player, for real! He is unstoppable down low. Best post player in the game.

  9. crillbill - Jan 4, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    You want Fisher to shoot more?

    yikes

  10. therealhtj - Jan 4, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Did anyone expect anything less than Kobe taking MORE shots after being criticized for taking too many? The Lakers recipe for success is simple, Kobe’s hot, they win, he’s not, they lose. Same as it’s been since Snaq left.

    Kobe won’t defer. He doesn’t know how. Same as Pau doesn’t know how to be that #1 guy. For better or worse, these are your Los Angeles Lakers.

    Bynum could average 25/15 and Kobe’ll still be jacking em up.

  11. lakerluver - Jan 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Huge LAKERS fan, huge Kobe fan. IMO, he’s the second best perimeter player ever. However, if he wants to win another title or two before he’s done he needs to realize that even if he does shoot 22 times, Bynum needs to shoot 21. If he’s option 1, Bynum’s option 1A. Let the young big man carry more of the load, Kobe!! As for an earlier comment that Bynum’s not the 2nd best center in the NBA, all I’ll say to that is, MAN, PLEASE!! Mark Gasol can’t carry Bynum’s jock!!!

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