It’s been 17, about to be 18, years since the one and only Kobe Bryant joined the NBA scene. Teammates have come and gone, championships have been won and lost, game-winning buzzer beaters, and fights over who the top dog is have happened. One thing has remained a constant: Kobe Bryant — his scoring to be specific. Now that Kobe is getting older and coming off of a brutal injury, he might have to make some changes to his game.
Last season, we started to see some changes when Steve Nash was out with a leg injury. Kobe decided it was on him to be the play-maker, and he definitely fulfilled that role. The Black Mamba turned into a nightly triple-double threat — he was grabbing boards, dishing out assists, and was still scoring the ball. Returning from his injury, Kobe may need to be a bit more passive due to the fact that he won’t be as explosive as he once was, so driving to basket will be harder. Last season, Kobe set a career high mark of 6.0 assists per game, and he also had a career high AST% of 29.7. Bryant has it in him, it’s just a matter of accepting the role, which he should accept any role if he wants to win.
Arguably the best part of Kobe Bryant’s game is his post game. According to Synergy, he was ranked fifth out of all players in the league in Points Per Possession (PPP) in post-up situations — he scored 1.05 PPP. Kobe only spent 13.1 percent of his time in post-up situations, but he shot 55.3 percent on 199 shots. The bad part is that he had his second highest turnover percentage from the post last season at 14.2 percent. It’s widely known that Kobe has some of, if not the best, footwork in the game today, so his injury really shouldn’t impact his post game all that much.
The last thing Kobe should improve on, and he really needs to, is his shooting and efficiency. This past season, Kobe shot 46.3 percent from the field, a lowly 32.4 percent from three, and 83.9 percent from the free throw line; all of that adds up to the highest TS% of his entire career. Although it was his highest career TS%, the numbers still weren’t that great — he should definitely be able to shoot better than 8.8-19.1. Another thing that stands out: Kobe ranked 195th in spot-up shooting — 195th!!! That has to be better, especially since he only shot 35.8 percent in those plays. Now, he only spotted-up 9.3 percent of the time, but he still shot 32.7 percent from three — just .3 percent higher than his normal three point percentage. If Kobe wants to keep shooting five threes a game, he needs to work on actually making more than 1.6. Simply put, Vino needs to work on his jump-shot, or shoot less threes.
Kobe Bryant has said he could see himself playing in the league for at least a few more years. I don’t doubt that he can play for a few more years, but I do question the level of play he will be at when he retires. Of course, I have also learned to never doubt the Black Mamba, so it will be fun to watch the last few years of his career play out.