Skip to content

Kobe Bryant is NBA’s leading scorer and D’Antoni could keep him there

Nov 17, 2012, 2:27 PM EST

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Kobe Bryant had a pretty standard night for himself Friday against the Suns compared to his past couple seasons — 31 points on a not terribly efficient 10-of-24 shooting but getting to the line a lot (10-of-11 from the stripe).

With that night, Kobe has averaged 26.9 points per game and moved past James Harden into the NBA’s per game scoring lead. The two big guns — LeBron James (24.8) and Kevin Durant (24.5) and hanging back there and could move up the list.

Before the season we all assumed Durant would win the scoring title again because… well, he is the best pure scorer walking the face of the earth right now and his team needs him to produce. LeBron would put up points but he’s as likely to kick it to Norris Cole with the game on the line as shoot. (As ESPN noted, did you see LeBron do exactly that against the Nuggets on national television and nobody even questioned his manhood? Rings change things.)

But Kobe wasn’t seen as a threat — he was too old plus he has Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard around him to soak up shot attempts and buckets. Plus you knew Metta World Peace needed his touches whether he should get them or not.

Mike D’Antoni may have changed that.

He said at his introductory press conference he expects the Lakers to score 110 to 115 points a night — a lofty goal that most don’t think the Lakers at their age can achieve. They are probably right. But they are going to score more per game.

If the Lakers are pushing the tempo, scoring more points and playing more just on basketball instincts not micromanaged plays, Kobe could be the guy to beat in the scoring race.

Especially if he continues to be efficient — he is shooting 53.1 percent on the season (up from 43 percent last season), and 41 percent from three (30 percent last season). He was getting his shots closer to the basket — 19.3 percent of his shots this season have come on post ups and he’s shooting 43.9 percent on those and getting the and-1 on 10 percent, according to Synergy Sports — taking fewer contested long twos or threes, and the result of the good looks was more efficient scoring.

While the numbers he put up against the Suns wouldn’t have had you blink last season, this season they stand out as different from the rest.

It should be noted Kobe is going to spend more time as the pick-and-roll ball handler and he has shot 46 percent doing that this season and 37 percent from three in that role. Watching him for a couple games, he is comfortable in that role.

If Kobe continues to be efficient, if the Lakers put up a lot of points, Kobe could well lead the league in scoring at the age of 35. With D’Antoni at the helm it is possible. Kobe will downplay it — he’ll say he doesn’t care, it’s only about the rings, and he’ll mean it — but this could happen.

Latest Posts
  1. Timberwolves short Kevin Love an All-Star appearance in tribute video

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Minnesota fans boo Love during pregame intros, cheer him during tribute video

  2. Enes Kanter talks trash before, gloats after Utah’s win over Warriors

    Jan 31, 2015, 6:30 PM EST

    Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Kanter was dismissive of both Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut before Friday night’s win.

  3. Kevin Love expecting boos when he returns to Minnesota with Cavaliers

    Jan 31, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Cleveland plays the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday.

  4. Report: Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio set to return Monday vs. Dallas

    Jan 31, 2015, 3:21 PM EST

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    With Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin back in the rotation the Timberwolves will not be such a pushover.

  5. Gerald Green receives first DNP in two seasons with Suns, team shoots down trade rumors

    Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Green being unexpectedly held out led some to speculate that he might be dealt.

  6. Derrick Rose half-court alley-oop to Jimmy Butler (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Jimmy Butler, Alex Len Jimmy Butler, Alex Len

    They’re not winning, but they still produce some highlight plays.

  7. Nike unveils latest signature shoe for Kobe Bryant, the Kobe X (PHOTOS)

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    150114_KOBE_X_0093_v5-xlr_37350

    The tenth in Bryant’s signature line returns to a low-top silhouette, and the first colorway is inspired by Kobe’s early morning high dive as he recovered from Achilles surgery.

  8. Report: Nuggets trying to trade for Brook Lopez

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Brooklyn Nets V Memphis Grizzlies Getty Images

    Denver’s offer of J.J. Hickson and JaVale McGee isn’t enough for Brooklyn to pull the trigger — especially with Lopez coming off of a 35-point, 12-rebound performance against the Raptors.

  9. Last summer Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant talked, decided it wouldn’t work together

    Jan 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Those two together at this stage of their careers are a poor fit together.

  10. DeMarcus Cousins says he ‘didn’t expect’ to make the All-Star team

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

    Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    It took Kobe Bryant being injured for Cousins to make the squad.

  11. Anthony Davis out Friday night vs. Clippers due to abdominal strain

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:56 PM EST

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    This is not a serious injury, but they will miss him defending Blake Griffin.

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (7922)
  2. L. James (6889)
  3. D. Howard (6843)
  4. M. Conley (6712)
  5. C. Anthony (6661)
  1. R. Rubio (6556)
  2. J. Butler (6308)
  3. K. Bryant (6234)
  4. N. Young (6006)
  5. K. Walker (5831)