Kobe Bryant is going to be a different player this upcoming season. We may not be watching the explosive reverse dunks of yesteryear. This time, Kobe is 36. He fought the good fight with father time and maintained a peak level of play that has lasted over fifteen years.
Something has to give.
Except, giving in isn’t what Kobe does. Instead, he adapts. He changes. He’ll do whatever it takes to reach the pinnacle of success, an NBA championship.
That adaptation comes from studying the game. He has studied players before. He has emulated Michael Jordan. He learned defense from Gary Payton. He learned advanced pivot work from Hakeem Olajuwon. All of that is in Kobe Bryant’s head.
Now, comes the next change in his career.
In preparing for this season, Bryant told friends that the player he is analyzing, as an example of adjusting your game as you get older, is fellow 36-year-old Paul Pierce. This is part of his goal to become “more efficient” on the court.
Link to the Kobe Bryant interview, by Chris Ballard of SI.com, is in the statement above.
Paul Pierce plays an efficient isolation game, despite his advanced age. He has never truly relied on athleticism. Instead, he has used pivot work and a purer jumpshot from the perimeter throughout his career.
Last March, Paul Pierce had a 29 point game against the Miami Heat. He scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter alone. He got hot behind the three-point line, but used very efficient moves to evade defenders and attack the basket.
Credit to GD’s Latest Highlights for the tremendous highlight reel.
Kobe Bryant has more advanced post moves. While the quickness and explosiveness may not be what it used to be, he already adapted a lot of his game to playing in the post.
Credit to Mixamaka for a great mix of pivot work and isolation moves.
There is more flair to Kobe Bryant’s game. He may not be the three-point shooting threat to the level of Paul Pierce, but he can still use his footwork and fadeaway to get good shots off against defenders.
We’re looking forward to a more efficient Kobe Bryant next season. How awesome would it be if he was able to adapt more of a pure facilitating role as well?
It would cap off a tremendous career, and could get him back into the playoffs.