Kobe Finally Claims The Low Post

1 of 2

Oct 16, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) is defended by Utah Jazz forward Jack Cooley (45) at the Honda Center. The Jazz defeated the Lakers 119-86. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sacrifice isn’t a word usually associated with Kobe Bryant, but it should be. The media narrative of Bryant’s career has been that of the selfish gunner, who played a me first brand of basketball. Never mind that Bryant’s entire career has been spent conceding the paint, to a series of talented big men teammates. Kobe had always been a dynamic low post scorer, but he had few opportunities to make use of his physical advantages there, for most of his career.

Kobe Bryant’s game and scoring zones varied year to year dependent upon his teammates. Early in his career, spent alongside Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones, he played off the brute power of Shaq and employed a slashing, more up tempo style – scoring in transition and off the dribble. With the arrival of Phil Jackson and the Triangle offense, Bryant held more ball handling responsibility. This lead to awkward possessions where Bryant would isolate defenders, often frustrating teammates  and a behemoth underneath the basket.

Of the 10 greatest scorers in NBA history, Kobe Bryant is the only one who spent the bulk of his career not having carte blanche where to operate his offense. Shaquille O’Neal  got the ball where he wanted it. Bryant played 8 seasons with him. During the Lakers repeat championship seasons of 2009-10, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for over 22 field goals attempts and 33 points a game. Gasol patrolled the paint along with Bynum for 5 seasons and then spent another with Dwight Howard.  For 14 of his seasons, Bryant was shoved to the perimeter and had to find ways to still be dominant from the least efficient areas of the court. He adopted the high post as his shop and became one of the deadliest mid range shooters of all time, but that is a difficult and increasingly unpopular place to shoot from in today’s NBA.

Michael Jordan never had to share the ball or the floor as Scottie Pippen wasn’t a dominant scorer and was more of an initiator. Karl Malone was mostly on the receiving end of John Stockton’s passes- getting layups, dunks and standstill jumpers.The Jazz lacked a offensive inside presence his entire career. Kareem Abdul Jabbar spent 20 seasons on the right block.

As he enters his 19th season, coming off two serious lower leg injuries, Bryant finally gets to set up where he is likely to be most efficient and effective. The low post.