Skip to content

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

Nov 17, 2012, 2:27 PM EDT

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. Pacers’ troubles continue as Hawks convincingly win Game 1

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT

    Pacers' Hibbert looks down court during Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series against the Heat in Indianapolis Reuters

    The eight-seed Hawks blowout the Pacers in Game 1.

  2. Warriors take Game 1 from Clippers

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Warriors steal Game 1 in Los Angeles.

  3. Nets defense smothers Raptors, gets Brooklyn Game 1 win on road

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) battles under the hoop with Brooklyn Nets centre Kevin Garnett (2) but they couldn't get it done as the Nets won 94-87 Getty Images

    Playoff games are played in the halfcourt and the Nets owned that in Game 1.

  4. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri screams ‘F— Brooklyn’ to crowd at rally before Game 1 vs. Nets (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    Masai Ujiri AP

    A rare and raw show of emotion from a team’s GM was caught on camera.

  5. Toronto Sun fires shot at aging Brooklyn Nets (PHOTO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

    “Garnett and Pierce are so old the Raptor had to ask his dad about them.”

  6. Adam Silver says after owners’ meeting raising age limit top priority

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    The owners are behind Silver’s effort to raise the age limit. Now there’s just the pesky matter of negotiating with the players’ union.

  7. PBT Extra: Are Pacers or Spurs in any trouble in first round?

    Apr 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Paul George, Pero Antic Paul George, Pero Antic

    You can construct a scenario where the Pacers are in trouble… except they play the Hawks.

  8. All PBT’s first round playoff previews in one place

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:15 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    Making your playoff preview reading convenient.

  9. Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes suspended 20 games for violating NBA’s anti-drug policy

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:54 AM EDT

    Nick Calathes, Damian Lillard AP

    Grizzlies’ guard will definitely be missed in the rotation.

  10. Craig Sager has acute leukemia

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:50 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

    We may not see him on the sidelines of TNT games these playoffs.

  11. NBA Playoff Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    This should be the East’s most competitive first round matchup.

  12. NBA Playoff Preview: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

    How quickly can Miami flip the switch?

  13. NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Can the Pacers regain their early-season swagger now that the playoffs are here?

  14. PBT Extra: Clippers/Warriors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Expect a fight by the end of Game 2.

  15. PBT Extra: Nets/Raptors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams

    People shouldn’t sleep on the Raptors, particularly the Nets.

  16. NBA Playoff Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert

    Dallas has lost nine straight to San Antonio. Don’t expect that streak to stop now.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (3680)
  2. D. Wade (3664)
  3. L. James (3654)
  4. S. Curry (3601)
  5. D. Williams (3592)
  1. K. Love (3494)
  2. R. Westbrook (3251)
  3. A. Bogut (3115)
  4. K. Durant (3113)
  5. R. Rondo (2867)